JAMES BOND author and aficionado Ajay Chowdhury remembers meeting Sean Connery, dancing with his wife – and feels that many male Bollywood action heroes took an inspirational cue from the legendary Scotsman.
Sir Sean Connery’s death was announced earlier today. It was reported that he died in his sleep at the age of 90 in his home in the Bahamas. An announcement was made by his family. He had been suffering with a long illness.
Connery was the first Bond, appearing in ‘Dr No’ and starred in seven Bond films between 1962-1983 and was knighted by The Queen in 2000.
He has more than 90 credits to his name as an actor and won an Oscar in 1988 for his role as an Irish American cop in ‘The Untouchables’ (Brian Da Palma) and found favour with a new generation of cinemagoers in films such as ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989) and ‘Highlander II’ (1991).
Chowdhury met Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2011. Connery was a patron of the festival, having grown up in the city and started out as a milkman there, before becoming one of its most famous exports.
That year the festival screened ‘The Man who would be king’ (1975) – it was Connery’s own personal favourite and the festival invited co-star Saeed Jaffrey (1929-2015) and Chowdhury accompanied the Punjab born actor and his wife, Jennifer to the screening.
“Sir Sean and his wife were very accommodating,” reaveled Chowdhury, co-author of ‘Some Kind of Hero – The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films’, to www.asianculturevulture.com. “It was a wonderful experience. The film was classic Sean Connery and he was brilliant.”
The film directed by John Huston is based on a novella by Rudyard Kipling and starts in India – though the film was shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and on location in France and Morocco. The latter doubling up as the fictional country of ‘Kafiristan’, in which two adventurer soldiers (played by Connery and Sir Michael Caine) desert their British Indian regiment and head to a mystical land over the Khyber Pass to seek dreams of fame and fortune – but not all turns out that way – despite an auspicious start, when Connery’s character Daniel Dravot is mistakenly hailed as a god.
Chowdhury said Connery’s appeal was rooted around the idea of Britishness and what it meant to many who live beyond these isles.
“There was an international appeal to what people thought was ‘Britishness’. He had that masculine quality. He wasn’t some Rada-trained thespian, he was a male action hero, both sensually and physically and he brought that physicality to his roles.
“A lot of Bollywood action heroes owe a debt to the essence of James Bond and Connery himself. I think the level of action and thrills and sophistication Bond represents is much more black-tie than blue collar and has an aspirational quality for young males all over the world,” reflected Chowdhury, who is also editor & spokesman of The James Bond International Fan Club and an arts and entertainment lawyer by profession.
He said many international spy thriller franchises owe their success to the way Connery embodied a “cool but cruel” character.
“In his first Bond film, Connery shoots someone, who runs out of bullets, in the back. There was an urbane ruthlessness about him.”
He said Connery’s star quality stayed with him throughout his long career and translated across the world.
“It’s rare that characters like James Bond pass through generations and globally.”
Chowdhury thinks Connery may have visited India privately, but did not believe he ever shot a film there, to the best of his knowledge.
“He had Asian friends and he lived internationally, but I don’t think he went there for a film,” he told acv.
He quipped that his ultimate claim to fame in connection with Connery is dancing with the legend’s wife.
As a group in Edinburgh for the festival screening, Connery invited them to a private Kaylee (a traditional Scottish social and dance) later.
Chowdhury noticed that Sir Sean’s wife, French-Moroccan painter wife Micheline Roqueburne was looking a little bored.
“I know a bit of French. We were invited to take to the dance floor, there was a live band and I dragged her away and did a cross of a dance between bhangra and Kayleigh, which Sir Sean absolutely loved.”
Connery leaves a wife and son, Jason Connery.
Sir Sean Connery, actor 1930-2020
The Remarkable Story Of The James Bond Films by Matthew Field & Ajay Chowdhury