The Hero: Love Story of a Spy
|The Hero: Love Story of a Spy|
|Directed by||Anil Sharma|
|Narrated by||Sunny Deol|
|Music by||Uttam Singh|
|Edited by||Suresh Urs|
|Distributed by||Time Magnetics (India) Pvt. Ltd.|
|Box office||₹451 million|
The Hero: Love Story of a Spy is a 2003 Indian spy thriller film that was directed by Anil Sharma and produced by Time Magnetics. It stars Sunny Deol, Preity Zinta, Miss World 2000 Priyanka Chopra, Kabir Bedi and Amrish Puri. The film marked the Bollywood film debut of Chopra. Written by Shaktimaan, the film tells the story of an undercover Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent who must gather intelligence about cross-border terrorism and stop the terrorist responsible for it, and his separation from his fiance.
Sharma had long contemplated making an espionage film but felt it was not economically viable for the Indian market because Indian films did not have sufficient budget. He first planned a film about India's spy network that was set in the early 2000s but then made the 2001 film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, which became the highest-grossing Indian film of all time after its release. Following the record-breaking success of that film, Sharma decided to make The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. The Shah Brothers were engaged to produce the film, which was touted to have a huge budget and scale, unlike previous Bollywood films. Aiming for high production values, huge amount of money was spent on the film. Several large sets were created to give the film a feeling of grandeur and international stunt experts were hired to coordinate the action sequences that were new in Bollywood. Principal photography was done in Indian locations including Kullu and Manali, and in locations in Canada and Switzerland. The soundtrack was composed by Uttam Singh, and lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi and Javed Akhtar.
The film's production cost was very high, with trades suggesting that it was the most expensive Indian film ever made at that point of time, which was also the most talked-about aspect of the film. The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was released on 11 April 2003 to mixed reviews from critics, and grossed over ₹451 million at the box office against a production and marketing budget of ₹350 million, becoming the third-highest grossing film of the year. Due to its high production costs, the film's box office gross was considered to be below expectations. Chopra won the Stardust Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.
Arun Sharma (Sunny Deol) is a spy working for India's spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He sets up a spy network under the identity of Major Batra to get information about Pakistani terrorist activities across the India-Pakistan border. Reshma (Preity Zinta), who is from the same village, joins this network; Arun trains Reshma to spy and they fall in love. Reluctantly, he sends her across the border to work undercover as a maidservant in Colonel Hidayatulla's (Deep Dhillon) house. Hidayatulla is associated with terrorists Isaq Khan and Maulana Azhar.
Reshma's identity as a spy is identified in front of Isaq Khan, Maulana Azhar and Colonel Hidayatulla. She escapes and returns to India with important information. Arun expresses his love for Reshma and proposes marriage to her. The ceremony is cut short when terrorists attack the venue. Reshma goes missing and Arun is presumed dead.
Arun realizes Isaq Khan and Maulana Azhar are responsible for the attack. He fakes his own death and plans to infiltrate their terrorist network. Arun follows them to Canada and discovers they are planning to create a nuclear bomb. Reshma is found to be alive in Pakistan and in the care of Dr. Salman; she is taken to Canada and has surgery on her legs. Her doctor is Shaheen (Priyanka Chopra), who is the daughter of Mr. Zakaria (Kabir Bedi), an associate of Isaq Khan. Reshma learns Arun is alive and is in Canada.
Arun changes his identity to that of nuclear scientist called Wahid, who is working at a Canadian nuclear research organization. Wahid pretends to be in love with Shaheen because he wants to become a part of Zakaria's group, and marries Shaheen to win their trust. Reshma meets Wahid at the time of his marriage to Shaheen. Arun is very happy to see Reshma alive but knows they cannot be together so she leaves. Reshma is heartbroken at the wedding.
Arun exposes Maulna Azhar, Zakaria and Isaq Khan's plan to obtain a nuclear bomb. The Canadian and Indian governments find out the terrorists' plan has been destroyed by Arun. The terrorists hijack a train to escape. Arun comes to the rescue. Shaheen dies while helping Arun, who kills Isaq Khan and the other terrorists. Arun returns to Kashmir and tells the story to his colleague, and meets Reshma in Kashmir. Arun and Reshma are finally married.
- Sunny Deol as Arun Sharma/Major Batra/Wahid
- Preity Zinta as Reshma
- Priyanka Chopra as Shaheen Zakaria
- Kabir Bedi as Mr. Zakaria
- Amrish Puri as Ishaq Khan
- Rajpal Yadav as Lt. Dorjee
- Shahbaz Khan as Idris Malik
- Parvin Dabas as Salman
- Deep Dhillon as Colonel Hidayatullah
- Pradeep Rawat as the head of RAW
- Shri Vallabh Vyas as Reshma's Guardian
- Rajat Bedi as Wasim
- Arif Zakaria as Karimuddin
- Gene Snitsky as Russian terrorist
- Big Guido as Lab's security guard
Director Anil Sharma had planned to make The Hero: Love Story of a Spy before the release of his record-breaking film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001). Sharma said he wanted to make an espionage film and contemplated making something like James Bond for a long time but realised Indian films did not have the budget that is needed to make a film on such a scale. Sharma then thought of making a film based on India's spy network and, unlike his last historical film, set it in the early 2000s. His idea was to make a family film with no sex and violence. After the success of Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Sharma decided to make The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, which was written by Shaktimaan. As a part of his research for the film, Sharma interacted with Army personnel to understand the working methods of its intelligence section.
The Shah brothers of Time Magnetics—Dhirajlal Shah, Hasmukh Shah and Pravin Shah—were engaged to produce the film. Aiming for high production values, Sharma mounted the film on a huge budget and scale he said was needed for a story of this proportion. He also said the film was a risk, especially when the Indian film industry was going through a slump. Sharma defended the huge budget, saying "But everything is risky; even walking on the street is risky. I knew before I started how much it would cost. I think the two years I gave to the film are more important than the budget. The money may come back, the time won't. Films these days don't work because filmmakers don't give enough time to them."
Sharma had cast Sunny Deol, who starred in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, in the role of an Indian spy. The director felt that the film was very different from their previous collaboration because Deol played a "subtle spy" who did not "scream and shout" (Deol's trademark in his films). Deol streaked his hair blond and wore several disguises in the film, which made him uncomfortable. Preity Zinta was cast in the female lead as a naive Kashmiri village girl while Priyanka Chopra was cast in the supporting role of a Pakistani-born Canadian doctor. Kabir Bedi and Amrish Puri completed the cast. The costumes for the cast was designed by Simple Kapadia, Abu Jani, Sandeep Khosla, Neeta Lulla and Sheetal India. Sanjay Dhabade was the production designer for the film. Several huge sets were constructed, including a massive glass house on water. The cinematography was handled by Kabir Lal.
Principal photography took place in Kullu and Manali in India, and at locations in Canada and Switzerland. Some of the filming was done in Lonavala and Film City. Half of the film was shot in India while the other half was filmed in Canada and Switzerland. Filming in freezing weather conditions in Canada and Switzerland proved to be difficult for the cast, who had to be transported to rooms with heaters every five minutes. Sometimes the temperatures fell to −20 °C (−4 °F). The action set pieces were designed by Allan Amin and international action experts were hired to coordinate the stunts. In one of the "heavy duty" action scenes, eight helicopters were used in the filming. The producers of the film engaged the professional wrestler Big Guido as Bedi's bodyguard for an action sequence. For one scene, Deol had to jump off an 11,000-foot (3,400 m) tall peak, which he felt was difficult. The climax of the film was shot at Jungfrau in temperatures of −16 °C (3 °F). To shoot the scene, Lal propped himself on top of an open helicopter to capture the Jaungfrau Heights from 15,000-foot (4,600 m) in −30 °C (−22 °F). The shot took two hours to film. After landing, he collapsed and was immediately rushed to the hospital. The songs were choreographed by Ganesh Acharya. The film was edited by Suresh Urs.
|The Hero: Love Story of a Spy|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||20 February 2003|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
The soundtrack of The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was composed by Uttam Singh, and the lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi and Javed Akhtar. Initially Bakshi was the sole lyricist on the soundtrack but during production he fell ill. Bakshi wrote the lyrics for a few songs after his recovery but after his death, Akhtar was brought in to write the lyrics for the rest of the songs. The film contains six original tracks with vocals provided by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Jaspinder Narula, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sardool Sikander and Hariharan. The soundtrack was released on 20 February 2003 by Times Music.
Bollywood Hungama said the soundtrack does not have "anything great or extraordinary to offer" and that the music is below expectations considering the budget and scale of the film. Planet Bollywood rated the album 6 out of 10, calling it "simply passable, nothing spectacular" and saying the music is not what was expected from such a big film. The reviewer said "Dil Main Hai Pyar" is the best song on the album, noting "its enjoyable characteristics" and saying it had "the potential to become very popular".
|1.||"Dil Main Hai Pyar"||Anand Bakshi||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Jaspinder Narula||04:37|
|2.||"Tere Shehar Ka Kya Hai Naam"||Anand Bakshi||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||04:25|
|3.||"In Mast Nigahon Se"||Javed Akhtar||Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan||05:02|
|4.||"Mari Koyal Ne Aisi Cook"||Anand Bakshi||Sardool Sikander, Jaspinder Narula||06:35|
|5.||"Tum Bhi Na Mano"||Javed Akhtar||Alka Yagnik, Hariharan||06:11|
|6.||"Dil Main Hai Pyar 2"||Anand Bakshi||Alka Yagnik||06:57|
Budget and trade analysis
After the record-breaking success of Deol's and Sharma's previous collaboration Gadar: Ek Prem Katha which became the highest-grossing Indian film of all time at that point of time, their next collaboration was highly anticipated and a lot was expected from it. According to Taran Adarsh, there were "gargantuan" expectations from the new film. The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was much talked about for its budget and scale. Adarsh said the producers had spared no expenses in making it a film of "epic proportions" and "grand production values", writing, "The money spent is visible in every frame, the grand look of the film just cannot be overlooked". The film was also talked about for including stunts that were new to Bollywood cinema.
Industry experts and trade analysts declared The Hero: Love Story of a Spy the most expensive Indian film ever made at that point, with some estimating its budget between ₹50 to ₹55 million. According to Box Office India, the film had a budget of ₹35 million, including the production and marketing cost. Sharma refused to confirm the exact budget but agreed it was an expensive film, telling Subhash K. Jha; "The producers have gone on record about the budget. I cannot tell you the exact cost. But yes, it is an expensive film". The director, however, was extremely unhappy with the hype around the film's budget because he did not want to raise audience expectations. Rajesh Thadani said the film should have been made on a lower budget because the economics of film-making had changed and that restraining a film's budget was "the need of the hour". A distributor told Rediff.com making such a costly film in the 2000s was not a viable proposition and that audiences had become extremely unpredictable. He added; "Devdas, with all its hype, barely managed to recover its cost. For The Hero to succeed, it will have to do better than Devdas."
When The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was in production, revenues of the Bollywood film Industry were declining and many were hopeful the film would help revive the industry. The film's trailers and promos created "enormous" to "positive" buzz in the public and media, but some trade analysts were sceptical about its high budget and its potential box-office earnings. An editor of Box Office said the recovery of the cost of a film like this, which had been filmed on "an extra-large canvas", was impossible from the Indian market alone. He said big-budget films like this mostly rely on overseas markets, which was uncertain for this film because it offered nothing new to overseas audiences as a "James Bond type of movie" that had been done several times before. Trade analyst Amod Mehra was more hopeful about the film, saying he hoped it would help revive the Bollywood film industry, which had "virtually gone dead", and that "the public is anticipating something as thrilling and fast-paced as Gadar. If he has kept the pulse of the public in mind, I see no reason why [the film] won't run well."
As The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was nearing its release, the 2003 Bollywood Producers' strike prevented the release of new Hindi films in theaters after 1 April 2003. Deol was displeased about the strike because he felt postponing a big film like this was not an affordable option, saying; "When a producer has spent so much money promoting and publicising a film like The Hero, how is he expected to scrap his campaign, postpone his film and start from scratch?". The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was released on 11 April 2003 on 500 screens despite the ongoing ban on the release of Hindi films. The film had a good opening at the box office, collecting ₹22.2 million on its opening day and ₹63.1 million in its opening weekend in India, and had the worldwide opening-weekend revenue of over ₹111.5 million. In its first week, the film collected over ₹107 million at the domestic box office and over ₹188.2 worldwide. In a report published in Rediff.com, Jha said the strike proved to be beneficial for The Hero: Love Story of a Spy because it had sustained a steady second-week run. During its box office run, the film grossed ₹414.5 million in India and over ₹36.8 million in the overseas market, making a worldwide gross of over ₹451.3 million. It was the third-highest-grossing Indian film of the year but the film's box-office gross was considered to be below expectations due to the high cost of production.
The Hero: Love Story of a Spy was released by Time as a single-disc, NTSC-format DVD on 8 July 2003 across all regions. A DVD version released by Venus Records contains some bonus features, including a "making-of" documentary and a collection of Deol's songs. A Video CD version was released at the same time. Tip Top Video released the film internationally on an an-regions, PAL-Widescreen format DVD. A VHS version was released on 1 September 2003. Another version of the DVD was later released by Moser Baer across all regions on an NTSC-format single disc.
The Hero: Love Story of a Spy garnered mixed reviews from critics. Deepa Gumaste of Rediff.com praised the film, calling it a "comicbook spy movie", comparing it to Die Another Day and Mission: Impossible, and writing; "At last an original desi spy who combines the guile and charm of James Bond and the raw appeal of Rambo!" She said the cinematography is a "treat for the eyes with exquisite footage of the picturesque landscapes" and wrote; "For once in a Hindi film, foreign locations have actually been put to good use". Lawrence Van Gelder of New York Times was appreciative of the film, noting its "multiple pleasures" and writing; "Stretching from the snow-capped peaks of Kashmir to the ski slopes of Canada, mingling gunplay, spectacular explosions and chases with songs, dances and romance, this colorful Indian spy adventure constitutes the cinematic equivalent of the delightful and inconsequential escapism of a 700-page summer beach novel".
Sify gave The Hero: Love Story of a Spy film three out of five, writing; "The central theme gets more spice with a love story giving much role to play for Preity and Priyanka. The action sequences are well shot and Sunny essays his role with skill as usual." Kevin Thomas of Los Angeles Times called the film "straightforward escapist fare" with the sensibility of an "old-fashioned comic-book", and said it "may be corny" and "unintentionally amusing at times" but it is also "a lot of fun" and has "all the classic elements of a Bollywood blockbuster taken to a spectacular level". The BBC's Manish Gajjar called the film "great escapist" cinema and praised the performances, writing; "the role of Ravi Khanna was tailor- made for Sunny Deol. He got a chance to exhibit the various looks of a secret agent ... Preity Zinta is radiantly refreshing throughout the film whilst ex-Miss World, Priyanka Chopra appears natural considering that this is her debut film".
Derek Elley of Variety said The Hero: Love Story of a Spy is "wildly over-the-top" but "undeniably entertaining". Praising the performances, Elley wrote; "Deol makes a solid, rather than exciting hero, better in military duds than his increasingly outre disguises, and Puri overacts wildly as the villain. Femme leads are much more engaging, with Zinta typically sparky and likable, and mega-looker Chopra making a solid screen debut as a modern urban miss." Anupama Chopra of India Today said the narrative has flair, noting the love story, including the courtship and consequent separation that has "emotional vigour" works to some extent but the spying part is a problem. She wrote; "The leads try hard—Deol appears suavely sincere and Zinta vulnerable—but Shaktiman's script doesn't hold. The incendiary dialogue got whistles but the comic-book discussions on nuclear bombs were a sleeping pill." Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama criticised the "superficial" writing but praised the technical aspects of the film, such as the "terrific" visuals and "awe-inspiring" action sequences, and said it "lacks the soul to make you cry and make your heart go out for the on-screen characters ... [the film] has gloss and hype as its trumpcards, but ... lacks in emotions, music and a taut screenplay".
|Award||Date[a]||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|IIFA Awards||22 May 2004||Best Performance in a Negative Role||Amrish Puri||Nominated|||
|Screen Awards||16 January 2004||Best Action||Allan Amin||Nominated|||
|Stardust Awards||2004||Best Supporting Actress||Priyanka Chopra||Won|||
|Zee Cine Awards||26 February 2004||Best Performance in a Negative Role||Amrish Puri||Nominated|||
|Best Female Debut||Priyanka Chopra[b]||Nominated|
|Best Action||Allan Amin||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||The Hero: Love Story of a Spy||Nominated|
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