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What’s in a name? Well, a lot if the name’s Bond, James Bond

What’s in a name? Well, a lot if the name’s Bond, James Bond

There is something about James Bond, the fictional British gentleman spy, that draws every man to him. Vikas Kardam got so obsessed with 007 that he changed his name to James Bond, much to the dismay of his wife.

Kardam, 33, who lives in a two-room rented apartment in west Delhi’s Nawada Housing Complex with his wife and daughter, has grabbed the attention of people after he changed his name to James Bond. “The word has spread like wildfire. People think it is some kind of a joke, but it’s true,” Kardam told <strong><a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/this-007-shoots-from-the-lip-the-name-is-bond-he-has-a-delhi-address/articleshow/76929809.cms">The Times Of India</a></strong>.

Men like James Bond because he is the ultimate male fantasy: he drives the swankiest of cars, goes around with the finest of women, and gets out of the stickiest of situations. And women love him because… well, which women won’t like the company of such a suave gent, unless of course if she is a feminist?

Few, however, notice that he is also a patriot—as one of his adversaries said in a movie, “Her Majesty’s loyal terrier.” His patriotism, however, is not akin to that of Manoj Kumar’s and Sunny Deol’s. Bond doesn’t scream about his love for his country. In fact, he doesn’t express extreme emotions—no loud protestations, no big speeches extolling the virtues of his own country, <em>no kutte kamine main tera khoon pi jaaunga</em>, no crying, no smearing of face with <em>desh ki mitti</em>.

Bond’s equanimity and composure, however, don’t make him a lesser patriot or less tough. He doesn’t break during his 14-month stay in a North Korean prison (<em>Die Another Day</em>); he doesn’t yield in the face of dreadful torture, imminent castration, and certain death (<em>Casino Royale</em>); in fact, he sniggers with his tormentor, cracking dirty jokes and even teasing him.

Despite such unflinching patriotism, Bond not only does not wear it on his sleeve but also considers his existence as an agent of the British government as a job, not some holy duty. He says so to an adversary, an assassin (<em>Tomorrow Never Dies</em>).

Evidently, he also enjoys his job. And he doesn’t find any incongruity in simultaneously working for his country and making love to women. As he once said sardonically while disrobing a lady, “The things I do for England!” (<em>You Only Live Twice</em>)

Now compare him with Bharat aka Manoj Kumar. I read somewhere that in a movie with a patriotic theme, he did not touch his heroine in any of the scenes. Perhaps it is one of those apocryphal stories but it sums up not only Kumar’s but the entire country’s attitude towards patriotism. And the attitude is problematic.

For it is premised on the belief that the country or the nation is something other than and above the people of the country, some metaphysical, divine entity that has to be worshipped. It is certainly, according to this viewpoint, not a lived reality. A wrong belief.

James Bond epitomizes <em>joie de vivre</em>, the lust for life. And it’s life in fullness—enjoying its bounties as also being committed to it, and the duties it entails. This is beautifully described in the patriotic song from the film <em>Haqeeqat</em> (1964), the best song of the genre, ‘<em>Kar chale ham fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiyon/ab tumhaare havaale vatan saathiyon</em>.’

The first two stanzas should be quoted in full: ‘<em>Saans thamatii gaii/nabz jamatii gaii/phir bhii badhate kadam ko na rukane diyaa/kat gaye sar hamaare to kuchh gam nahiin/sar himaalay kaa hamane na jhukane diyaa/marte marte rahaa baankpan saathiyon, ab tumhaare</em>…

‘<em>Zindaa rahane ke mausam bahut hain magar/jaan dene kii rut roz aatii nahiin/husn aur ishq donon ko rusavaa kare/vo javaanii jo khuun mein nahaatii nahiin/baandh lo apane sar par kafan saathiyon, ab tumhaare</em>…’ So well encapsulated by none other than Kaifi Azmi.

This is the James Bond spirit: <em>marte marte rahaa baankpan saathiyon</em>… swagger remains till death. There are love, beauty, joy—but not without commitment to sustain them. <em>Vo javaanii jo khuun mein nahaatii nahiin</em>… Joys and pleasures of life are for us, but they should not became an escape from the reality.

Kardam, who is now James Bond, told TOI that he aware his new name would become fodder for jokes but he’s happy that he’ll give everyone a reason to smile. He will be happier if he imbibes some of James Bond’s values as well..