When Rajkumar went by the name ‘Agent 999’

Rajkumar could traverse the genre of the spy thriller with as much aplomb as the mythological or the social melodrama. We present memorable songs & scenes from his James Bond-inspired spy franchise

Starting from 1968, Rajkumar starred in four spy films that brought the spirit of the James Bond film to Kannada audiences. The films were directed by the well-known film director duo, Durairaj and SK Bhagavan and became successful enough to labelled Rajkumar’s ‘Bond’ movies. In all of them – Jedara Bale (1968), Goa Dalli CID 999 (1968), Operation Jackpot Nalli CID 999 (1969) and Operation Diamond Racket (1978) –Rajkumar played the memorable CID agent ‘999’.

We present some well-known songs and scenes picturised on Rajkumar from this series, starting with Jedara Bale.

SK Bhagavan, in an interview to SouthWord about his five-decade association with Rajkumar, explained how the idea for the Bond films was born after Rajkumar, director Durairaj, him and few others went to a show of Dr No (1962), the first James Bond movie starring Sean Connery, in Madras. “(He) saw the picture Dr No four to five times to copy his (Sean Connery’s) style of walking, his style of delivering the dialogue, his style of fighting,” Bhagavan said.

The next song is from Goa Dalli CID 999, starring Rajkumar and the actress, Lakshmi. Rajkumar modelled himself on the influences coming from the West, but we see a distinctive character to these films that would inspire a desi Bond genre in its wake. Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi film industries would attempt to replicate the Kannada spy movie pioneered by Rajkumar, Bhagavan said.

Next is a scene from the third film in the series, Operation Jackpot Nalli CID 999 which shows how the Kannada Bond series was no laggard when it came to the latest gadgetry or a stylized presentation of the lead. The signature thriller background score is not to be missed!

Finally we come to Rajkumar’s most famous song from the Bond series. Sung by Rajkumar himself – an accomplished singer – this song with English lyrics from start to end has ensured that the Kannada Bond movie continues to appeal to younger, kitch-loving generations.

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