In the 1968 film Ankhein, Dharmendra’s brooding, disgruntled portrayal of a man with a mission to save his country won every Indian’s heart. Coincidentally, it was also the same year India’s spy agency RAW was farmed, giving India’s most lavish spy thriller a subtle push towards fame.
The release of Ankhen started a chain of dominoes, all falling in the direction of the “thriller” genre. While some movies like Jeetendra’s ‘Farz’ played it close to the homeland, others took inspiration from Hollywood’s dominating James Bond template.
But no matter which way they decided to turn, the momentum that the Spy-Thrillergenre gained back in the 60s has only grown in the last few decades, giving us some of the best movies our patriotic, thriller-crazed heart could ever want.
Here, I’ve collated a (furiously) short list of my favorite spy films from the last decade, to celebrate my love for the years gone by and to give you something to reminisce about. So getcho Torrent on, guys, because you’re gonna wanna watch these!
1. Agent Vinod (2012)
Let’s start with the only movie that got me to look up from my FB chats back in 2012. Yeah, Honey Singh’s songs and Agent Vinod’s dashing looks were the only thing I jammed to as a teenager the whole time that year.
Most of you might only remember him for Andhadhun now but Sriram Raghavan had already given us a masterpiece years before that, in the form of Agent Vinod.
It’s fast-paced, extremely stylish, a little inconsistent at times, but a hell lot of fun! Everything from the ill-placed songs (cue ‘Pungi’) to amazing fight-sequences, Agent Vinod delighted my heart to no end.
It still boggles me why so many of the major publications gave it such a low rating back at the time. Hindustan Times called it “exhausted” and decided to grace it with a mere 1 star rating.
Well, boohoo. You CLEARLY don’t know what you are talking about, HT!
The movie is an absolute hoot. Despite some people disregarding it as a James Bond knock-off (which it SO wasn’t, btw) Agent Vinod is more than just about a spy in a suit with the “license to kill.”
No, it actually has a plot that made want to give a damn about the characters. The tone of the movie as the movie begins, with the club scene where Vinod plays cards and incapacitates the thugs one by one is very neatly done.
And while there is certainly the lack of the similar winning tone in the later parts of the movie, it still worked. One point where it goes wrong, in my honest opinion, is where the director kind of forced the whole Saif-Kareena “power couple.” It was clearly not happening and it stepped on the toes of something that could have been ever greater without that complication.
Even so, Agent Vinod was and still remains one of the best Indian Spy-Thrillers I ever watched. And if you haven’t already, you must give it a go at least once.
Baby is atmospheric, urgent, and very sophisticated when it comes to the plot. It’s big on the heart and low on the extra-fluff, which earns it some extra brownie points from my side.
The movie takes you on an insane, adrenaline-fueled ride with enough mellow scenes to allow you to catch your breath. Done? Aaaand we’re off again!!
It will have you teetering between laughter, discomfort, and exhilaration in equal parts. It will pull you in, throw you out, and leave you wondering about it long after the screen goes black, mark my words. This one is not something you want to miss out on.
The music in the background is another cherry on top of an already overcrowded cake! It’s mysterious and matches to the beat of your heart as you inch closer to the last 30 minutes of the movie.
When I first watched it, I had zero idea where the movie was headed, and the characters skulking around a dark house looking to uncover the truth very effectively pulled me into the moment. Babyis worth all the re-watches and then some.
3. Phantom (2015)
Another underrated gem from 2015 that did not receive the attention and praise it so obviously deserved.
People went ahead to call it a “James Bond Knock-Off” Well, not that I’m saying it was so. But, even if that was true, so WHAT? Because copied or not, it created an individuality for itself, which is more than I can say for movies that are being churned out today.
I’ll go as far as to say that Saif Ali Khan is a talent that not many appreciate. People disregarded Agent Vinod‘s arrival faster than they skip ads on a Youtube video. And Phantom, though an extremely well-made Indian Spy Thriller, received similar treatment yet again.
Such a shame too because it’s an our and out Saif Ali Khan movie who impressed big time throughout the 180-something minutes of it. Not to mention it gave us the absolutely rocking ”Afghan Jalebi”
Phantom is brave and energetic in its presentation of an issue that every Indian viewer feels strongly about at some level or another. It focuses on the continuous sacrifice of our brave Indian soldiers, and does so in a well-scripted, non-flashy manner.
And for that it deserves all the attention and praise it can get.
A writer by day and reader by night, I am someone who - as soon as she graduated from high school - knew she wanted to write. How? When? where? It did not matter as long as I got to write! And every second of it has been full of learning, adventure, and excitement. I love reading, especially high fantasy, fiction, and thrillers! And when I am not reading or reviewing books on my blog, I try my hand at graphic designing for blog posts, headers, logos. Add a little bit of video editing into the mix and I'm peachy!