In the Dasht-E-Margoh desert in remote Afghanistan, inside a Taliban camp, ISI official Col. Huzefa (Shahbaz Khan) is interrogating a captured man (Saif Ali Khan) presumed to be a R.A.W. agent. The man gives details of RAW's operations in Afghanistan in exchange for money and safe passage across the border. He betrays his colleague, Major Rajan (Ravi Kissen), who has also infiltrated the camp. This is only a ruse, as both overpower their captors and fight their way out of the camp. Along the way, they rescue a girl called Farah (Maryam Zakaria).
In New Delhi, Agent Vinod enters RAW headquarters to meet his boss Hassan Nawaz (B. P. Singh). Nawaz shows him Major Rajan's final message from Russia. Just as he completes his message, Rajan is killed by a man. Nawaz asks Vinod to find out what '242' is. Vinod travels to St. Petersburg, and enters a nightclub owned by Abu Nazer (Ram Kapoor). He manages to capture and interrogate Nazer, who tells him a man called Freddie Khambatta is to smuggle the million to Morocco. Vinod is almost captured by Nazer's men, but manages to escape, killing Nazer in the process.
Vinod boards a flight to Tangiers, Morocco. Freddie Khambatta turns out to be the flight steward. Vinod picks him up from the airport, only to assume his place. As Freddie, Vinod meets local mafia boss David Kazan (Prem Chopra), who is accompanied by his personal (Pakistani) doctor, Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor). Kazan suspects Vinod, and gets Ruby to administer him a truth serum. Vinod blurts out that he is a RAW agent and killed Abu Nazer. Kazan confronts Vinod when he regains consciousness, but Vinod manages to convince him he is Freddie Khambatta, and explains he had to kill Abu Nazer to protect the mission. He manages to hack Kazan's phone and find out that an MI6 agent is reaching Morocco the following day.
In the meantime, Vinod gets closer to Ruby, and tries to find out what '242' is. Ruby is actually Iram Parveen Bilil, a British-Pakistani who is working undercover for the ISI. Vinod goes to meet the MI6 agent and finds him murdered in his room with strong pointers that the murder was committed by Ruby. He gets an invitation card from the murdered agent's room for a private auction. He learns that many international terrorist groups are converging at an antiques auction in Marakkesh to purchase '242'. Vinod brings Ruby to the auction, where Kazan is also present along with Jagadishwar Metla (Dhritiman Chatterjee). Vinod spots an LTTE agent he had encountered previously, and from him, learns that '242' is actually the detonator for the nuclear device, disguised as an antique volume of Omar Khayyam's 'Rubaiyyat'. A bidding war ensues, and Kazan manages to secure the detonator.
In Chaman, Baluchistan, the Chief of the ISI (Rajat Kapoor) is murdered by Col. Huzefa, who is actually part of a group of rogue ISI colonels planning an attack on India. In Morocco, Kazan locks the detonator with a password, and hands it over to Colonel (Adil Hussain), who has arrived in Morocco. Iram runs into the real Freddie Khambatta, and finds out Vinod is a RAW agent. Managing to escape from men trying to kill them, both agree to work together to prevent the nuclear device from falling into the wrong hands. Ruby returns to Kazan's estate only to find it ransacked and Kazan shot dead by 'Colonel'. 'Colonel' captures Ruby and asks her to reveal the whereabouts of Agent Vinod. He plants a sniper next to the hotel where Agent Vinod is to rendezvous with Ruby. The sniper takes a shot at him but Vinod manages to escape and is admitted to a hospital. The assassin reaches the hospital in the guise of a doctor and tries to administer a venom injection to Vinod. Vinod spots the scorpion tattoo on the doctor's forearm and overpowers him, killing him. He then clears his way out of the hospital to find Iram.
'Colonel', who is now in possession of the detonator, has reached Riga, Latvia to acquire the bomb. He enlists Iram to seduce an airport security employee to get his ID card. Iram succeeds in doing so, and 'Colonel' provides the ID card to his man, who is to transport the bomb out of Latvia. Colonel also sets up a rigged bomb so that both the airport employee and Iram die in the blast. Vinod arrives and as he interrogates Iram, the blast occurs, giving Iram the realisation that she was being set up by the Colonel.
Vinod and Iram join hands and try to capture the Colonel and the bomb. Iram tells Vinod that the Colonel has called for a meeting in Karachi with fugitive mafiosa Taimur Pasha (Gulshan Grover) who may also be in on the plot. The Colonel gets the Rubaiyyat and tells his men to kill Vinod and Iram. However, Vinod manages to kill them all. Iram and Vinod reach Karachi, where they meet Farah, who is a dancer. With her help, they enter the wedding being attended by Pasha. There, they learn that Col. Huzefa and the don have agreed to smuggle the nuclear device from Karachi into India via the sea route. However, they are captured by Col. Huzefa, from whom they learn the target of the bomb is New Delhi. They manage to escape, and make it to New Delhi, where they try to find the location of the bomb. They find that the Colonel is staying with an ISI/Lashkar agent, who is an old professor (Lalit Parimoo). Iram finds the professor's map, which is of the bus route that Jimmy is taking with the armed bomb.
Iram hurries to the exhibition where Colonel is hiding as a pilot. Iram runs into 'Colonel', and is shot, but points him out to Indian security forces, who kill him. Eventually, Vinod tracks down the bomb and takes the bomb up in a helicopter to detonate it as far away from the city as possible. Iram realises that David Kazan had set the password to the detonator and asks Vinod to try the name of Kazan's camel-"Zilleh". The bomb is defused but Iram dies of gunshot wounds. Later Vinod sees a recording, showing Metla planning the attack. Vinod accuses Metla and the Zeus group for murdering millions for making money at the global stock exchanges and starting a nuclear war in the sub-continent for geo-political reasons. Metla mocks Vinod, telling him world affairs are too complex for 'lowly police officers' to understand. However, Vinod is wearing a wire, and London cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba are listening in. Realizing that they have been manipulated by Metla into almost starting a war with India, with the Pakistan government violently cracking down on them, the Lashkar sends a suicide bomber (Arif Zakaria) to assassinate Metla at a function in his honour. Metla is killed, but posthumously feted as a great philanthropist.
On a beach in Cape Town, the beautiful Russian girl who first acquired the nuclear device is seen sunbathing. She looks up to find Agent Vinod smiling at her. It is apparent Vinod has moved on to his next mission.Saif Ali Khan as Agent Vinod
Kareena Kapoor as Iram Parveen Bilal/Ruby Mendes
Adil Hussain as Colonel
Ravi Kishan as Major Rajan
Prem Chopra as David Kazaan
Ram Kapoor as Abu Sayed Nazer
B. P. Singh as RAW Chief Hasan Nawaz
Shahbaz Khan as Colonel Huzefa Lokha
Gulshan Grover as Tehmur Pasha
Maryam Zakaria as Farah Faqesh special appearance in song "Dil Mera Muft Ka"
Malika Haydon as a special appearance in song "Steal The Night (I'll Do the Talking Tonight)" and "Pungi"
Dhritiman Chaterji as Sir Jagadishwar Metla
Rajat Kapoor as ISI Chief Iftekhar Ahmed
Anshuman Ajai Singh as Jimmy
Arif Zakaria as the suicide bomber
Vasilisa Petina as the Mysterious Girl
Mohommed Ali Shah as Police Inspector
Lalit Parimoo as professor
K. C. Shankar
According to Raghavan, Agent Vinod is not a remake of the 1977 action film of the same name. In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, he described it as "a realistic film [...with] full of action pieces, thrills and characters." On 30 May 2010, the director reported that the film's shoot had officially begun in Mumbai. Filming later continued in Morocco and Latvia.
A Pakistani film maker Iram Parveen Bilal, whom director Sriram Raghavan met at Indian Film Festival Los Angeles, in 2008 was the inspiration behind Kareena’s character name.
The film's soundtrack has been composed by Pritam. The track "Steal the Night (I'll Do the Talking Tonight)" is a partial interpolation of the 1978 song "Rasputin", composed by German disco group Boney M. According to IBN live, Raabta is the "most beautiful song" of the film. The version of Raabta used in the film is the Night in a Motel version and is incorrectly listed as being sung by Hamsika Iyer when in fact it was Aditi Singh Sharma who sung this song. Moreover, the song Habibi Ya Nour El Ain performed by Alabina, Ishtar was used in a scene background when Agent Vinod and Freddie Khambatta are seen walking out of Morocco Airport. However the song and artist are not credited. The version of Dil Mera Muft Ka used in the film is not available on the soundtrack. Also not available on the soundtrack is the title song seen in the film Govind Bolo Gopal Bolo. Due to popular demand it was uploaded on YouTube by T-Series on 29 March 2012.
The film released on 23 March 2012. A few days before release, the film was banned by the Central Board of Film Censors of Pakistan for containing various controversial references to the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence.
Kaveree Bamzai of India Today gave the film a mixed review, saying, "If only Sriram Raghavan had not gone weak on his knees at the thought of love, Agent Vinod would have been a smarter, sharper, cooler film." Gaurav Malani of The Times of India called the film "above average" and said "The film is entertaining but not in entirety. Agent Vinod gets the nod though not whole-heartedly!" Blassey Chettiar of Daily News and Analysis rated the film 3 out of 5 stars, saying, "Director Sriram Raghavan (Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddar) delivers a neat package, a suave lead hero slogging it out in picture-perfect locations, packing punches here and there, zooming off on sexy bikes, sexier cars and finally a copter, all in a day’s work." Kunal Guha of Yahoo! rated the film 1 out of 5 stars, saying, "Let’s just say foreign locales, weapons to annihilate the world, designer suits and not-so-excruciating interrogations don’t cumulatively justify Agent Vinod as a thrilling movie-watching experience." Raja Sen of Rediff gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars and said, "As a film, Agent Vinod must be termed a disappointment, a slick and well-produced throwback to the spy thriller that feels both overlong and under-conceived.".
Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times gave 2.5 out of 5 noted "The result is that Agent Vinod never becomes more than the sum of its parts and even though it picks up speed in the second half, it leaves you both exhausted and unsatisfied". Mrigank Dhaniwala of Koimoi gave the film 2 out of 5 stars as well, commenting, "Agent Vinod is a bold experiment gone wrong; certainly not something that entertains in its entirety ... (and) comes nowhere closer to the Bond or the Bourne series of Hollywood films." Zee News commented that, "Agent Vinod is a genuine attempt at entertaining in a sensible manner. But it somehow falls short of being declared as a brilliant piece of work. Watch it for its stylish presentation, it hasn’t got anything else to offer." Khalid Mohammed of Deccan Chronicle rated the film 2 out of 5 stars, commenting, "Suggestion: if you do venture into this at best, average Agent Vinod, carry a huge thermos of coffee to stay awake." Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN rating the film 2/5 feels "Agent Vinod with so many varied influences that it never finds its own distinct identity".
Richard Kuipers of Variety commented that "this big-budget exercise bears all the hallmarks of a franchise-in-waiting; with an injection of the elan the real Maibaum brought to the Bond series, such an enterprise could prove successful". Independent Online from South Africa gives 3.5 out of 5 and says "the film is undeniably a cool and entertaining spy thriller"
On its opening day, the movie collected ₹94.1 million (US$1.5 million) at the box office. The movie showed less growth during the next two days ultimately grossing around ₹180 million (US$2.8 million) in its first weekend. Agent Vinod went on to earn a total of ₹367.5 million (US$5.7 million) during its first week and ₹546 million (equivalent to ₹720 million or US$11 million in 2016) throughout its run. The movie was declared As Average Grosser in Indian Box Office.
Before release, Agent Vinod ran into trouble when Saif Ali Khan's brawl with businessman Iqbal Meer Sharma was touted as a publicity stunt for the film. However, Khan has strongly denied the brawl to be such, and said, "I don’t believe in garnering publicity in such a negative manner. Rather our posters and promos should create the right kind of buzz".
Khan was shown black flags while promoting the film in Bhopal, which was triggered due to changes brought into administration of the Pataudi family properties in Middle-East.
Iranian band Barobax later sued the film's music director Pritam one week before the release, claiming that he lifted the song, Pyaar Ki Pungi from the former’s song, Soosan Khanoom. However, two weeks after the film's release, the band publicly apologised to Pritam and stating both the songs were different, withdrew its court-case.
The film was banned in Pakistan as it made references to a section of ISI's involvement in Jihadi groups and terror activities. To this, Khan responded, "This is a realistic kind of a thriller. We have shown that there are some negative elements in Pakistan towards India and their Censor have a problem showing that. We have shown a few most-wanted criminals, those that are harboured in Pakistan, which is a known fact. May be they have taken offence to that. But ultimately we want a RAW agent to win and baddies to lose. If they are uncomfortable with that then they should publicise the fact that they are banning Agent Vinod in Pakistan".
A week after its theatrical release, Agent Vinod again ran into trouble for plagiarism . Reports said that the film featured songs from older films, without acquiring prior permission from the producers. The songs involved were Aasmaan Pe Hai Khuda from Ramesh Saigal’s Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Meri Jaan Maine Kaha from Ramesh Behl’s The Train (1970) and Rakamma from Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi (1991). The owners of these songs were not credited in the film. Saif Ali Khan however paid for the rights later, and explained this to be a last-minute co-ordination problem.