Cast: Rani, Nasrullah Butt, Tarana, Rangeela, Adeeb and Sultan Rahi
Director: Aslam Dar
Nutshell: Trippy, Loopy local Bond clone has got it all; cars, guns, girls, chases, action, chills, spills and thrills!!!
As the James Bond phenomena grew in worldwide popularity it was a matter of time before Lollywood started producing its own clones. The first of many was probably CID in 1969 followed by Dr. Shaitaan the same year, Mr. 420 in 1970 and Jane Bond 008 and Mr. 303 early in 1971 along with Night Club. Mera Naam Raja and Black Cat (AKA Lady Boss) were two of the more memorable ones to follow in the mid to late 70’s before the genre started flagging ever so slightly as the stylish 70’s gave way to the Jat dominated 80’s.
What does a desi Bond clone contain? Much the same ingredients as the normal Bond film; girls, guns, chases, spills, thrills, swank outfits, trendy locations, nifty gadgets and megalomaniacal villains to name just a few of the essential ingredients. In this respect Mr. 303 doesn’t fail, but as a coherent film with a discernible plot, a beginning a middle and an end – this is where this particular Bond clone is a shambolic disaster – it makes little sense at all and the plot is threadbare at very best. Basically, this film is an exercise in presenting a chain of set pieces designed to appear immensely stylish – there are tens of chase scenes, each more laborious than the previous one, numerous idiotic fight cum stunt scenes but overwhelmingly the stage is taken over by pathetic attempts at “stylish comedy” a la Pink Panther!
This comedy involves, for example, our intensely geekish and irritating Mr. 303 being followed by a bunch of shady henchmen. During the chase Mr. 303 takes them in circles around a large circular tomb and then in typical cartoon style, 303 steps nonchalantly aside while the henchmen continue to go round and round in circles. This kind of painfully retarded scene is what takes precedent in this infantile crime caper.
The film begins promisingly enough with Sultan Rahi being framed by the bad guys and forced to join Adeeb’s group of king pin smugglers. Amidst a flurry of chase scenes and stunts there is much treachery and skulduggery and soon the brilliant if monstrously dull Agent 303 is hot on pursuit of the bad guys aided and abetted by comedian sidekick in the form of a hugely irritating Rangeela who is given huge license to bore and even granted a tediously unfunny song and dance along the way. Much needed respite does finally arrive in the form of the delectably shapely Tarana who plays a mysterious beauty queen residing in the plush suite of the Capri Hotel where Mr. 303 also has a room. They meet quite by accident, or so it seems, and though 303 is drawn to her bursting beauty, he manages to keep himself in control like all good secret agents ought to. However, the voluptuous Ms. Tarana is more than just a shapely bimbo who can shake a leg as it turns out in a more than shocking twist laden finale.
The film is nonsensical and atrocious in equally delightful proportions – delightfully awful with a Bond who surely must rank as the least un-charismatic ever (come back George Lazenby, all is forgiven!) The direction is infantile and aimed at a similarly mentally challenged audience. Rani has hardly anything to do but flutter her eyebrows and look doll-like. Nasrullah Butt oozes slime and geekishness as the suave Mr. 303 but it is Tarana who steals the show not only with her bodacious figure but also that frisky gap-toothed smile and the twinkle in her eye. Her dance too is easily among the few highlights of an otherwise pretty dire affair. The background music lifted from some obscure western elevator rubbish is woefully inappropriate for some of the action scenes where it is used – rendering the scenes quite farcical. In fact, the whole movie is not up to scratch despite its early promise. There is far too much emphasis on infantile “Pink Panther-like” cartoon situations and the attempts at this slapstick-style comedy are nothing short of torture.
The songs by Mala are catchy, dumb and suitably frivolous yet they aren’t enough to save the day. Not the best Bond clone to have come out of these parts by a long way, the movie is essential viewing for fans of the genre and its worldwide spin-off clones. Perhaps the best moment of the entire movie is when Agent 303 is asked how he likes his tea to which he responds with typical Bondesque arrogance (and style) that he prefers his tea “stirred but not shaken” to which his lady friend Tarana coos in delight! For all its dreadfulness, a desi Bond film simply cannot fail to entertain and this film certainly will manage to tickle the fancy of those viewers looking for something a little more exotic than big budget Hollywood mainstream. Mr.303 is a delightfully dreadful mess of a film – cheap and charming, dumb and delectable all at the same time. 303 is one that falls into the category of “so bad it’s worth watching” – truly awful but certainly good for a giggle or two.