James Bond: The New Face of Indian Railways?

If you thought flying cars, a submarine hybrid and a fleet of Aston Martins were James Bond’s only vehicles of choice, you may be in for a surprise.

Daniel Craig, who will star in “Bond 23,” the next James Bond sequel, is likely to be signed as the official ambassador of Indian Railways, Dinesh Trivedi, India’s railways minister, said in an interview. He hopes that having Mr. Craig as brand ambassador will revamp the reputation of India’s rail network, which he says is in urgent need of an “image makeover.”

Indian Railways, a state-run mammoth organization, is better known for running behind schedule than for its cutting-edge technology. Its trains are generally packed, old and slow. This is in sharp contrast with the suave image cultivated by James Bond, who typically cruises in sleek, high-speed M16 vehicles fully kitted with gizmos and gadgets.

It is unclear how sluggish Indian trains fit with the James Bond persona. So what’s in it for Mr. Craig? The new Bond movie’s production company – the London-based EON Productions – is keen to shoot part of the film in India and this would include a train-based action sequence, Mr. Trivedi said. Last week, members of the film’s production team met ministry officials to get permission to film on India’s trains and tracks. Among the conditions set by the ministry to allow them to film: that Mr. Craig lend himself to an Indian Railways television ad.

Since the partnership is at a nascent stage, the ministry is yet to contact an advertising agency. Nevertheless, they are already brainstorming possible taglines for the ads. Mr. Trivedi mentioned one of them: “The name’s Bond, James Bond. But Indian Railways is stronger than James Bond!” While this hits all the key words, it may need a little fine tuning.

Safety concerns were another issue. Though the original screenplay required Mr. Craig to fight on the roof of a moving train, the railway ministry said he persuaded the producers to modify the scene. “The ministry raised concerns because travelling on train rooftops is illegal. We didn’t want the global community to have an unrealistic picture of the Indian Railways” said Mr. Trivedi.

No final agreement has yet been signed between the railway ministry and the production house, though Mr. Trivedi expects it to be reached soon.

EON Productions and their Indian partners, India Take One Productions, declined to comment on whether Mr. Craig will participate in an Indian Railways commercial nor on whether they agreed to tweak the screenplay as per Mr. Trivedi’s suggestion.

The train sequence is likely to be filmed near Ahmedabad, in India’s state of Gujarat, in January. According to local media reports, other Indian locations the movie may be shot in include Goa and Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar, a market known for its knock-off high street clothing. The production company confirmed that they are planning to shoot parts of the movie in India but did not elaborate further.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Bond 23 is slated for worldwide release in 2012. Source

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