CURRYBOND #6 Apollo Banana Leaf + On Her Majesty's Secret Service
It had been going so smoothly. Curry after curry, bond after bond. The bump in the road was, I suppose, inevitable. It started slowly, a creeping malevolence driving a wedge through the heart of the CURRYBOND ground rules. The first compromise, a weekend CURRYBOND. Good in principal, no rush after work, available for otherwise unattainable participants, why not? The second compromise, on a non-CURRYBOND night out the requests begin. Why don't we move the timings around? Why don't we start with the film? What difference does it make? After a number of unofficial beers at a trendy city eatery, my soft heart gave in. It was done. For the first, but possibly not the last CURRYBOND #6 became BONDCURRY. (You can see why I dismissed this poor excuse for a name).
The CURRYBOND gods of Tikka and Masala, possibly even the almighty Broccoli were angered...I called the next venue, Onam. A Keralan themed curry house in South Tooting. No answer. I pass the restaurant out and about in Toots. The shutters are down. I ring the next day. No answer. The gods had sent their message... They had struck down Onam with the fury of 10,000 phaals and with the vitriol of all the vindaloos in SW17! CURRYBOND had been punished.
So I rang somewhere else and we went there instead...thanks Apollo Banana Leaf!
So in this CURRYBOND now recalled at 38,000 feet half way between Iceland and the Big Apple up is down and therefore we begin with...
The Bond Leg
We continue our theme of the bizarre on this CURRYBOND when without warning (if you know nothing about Bond) the hunky Scottish girl-slapping stalwart Sir Sean of Connery has gone! To be replaced by an, in my opinion, equally hunky, love mole aside, Aussie Bond, George Lazenby. Here to press his one and only stamp on the Bond franchise in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
George kicks things off with a pretty incoherent fight scene on a beach. Determined to save Diana Rigg from her early evening swim. It seems the action direction has decided to ignore the flaws of previous bonds by tripling the number of cuts to create some of the most confusing fight scenes to grace the punchy, throwy, choppy oeuvre of the bond fight scene. To top this all off, George Bond turns to the camera and quips "this wouldn't have happened to the other guy!" Fourth walls smashed all over your face! That's right! We've got a new Bond and we don't care about continuity, pacing, or coherent cinematography! Stick that in your Goldfinger and smoke it!
On to the next overarching theme of this Bond film, and for this we need some context. It's been a couple of years since our space volcano fun of You Only Live Twice, it's 1969 and in the wider world we've had Sgt Pepper, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and generally a lot of creative people really happy to have discovered some new creative "tools", really HAPPY! It seems like the film makers for OHMSS are no different. So our new direction for Bond seems to include tripping our heads off and accepting that an evil lair on the top of a mountain masquerading as a allergy treatment research lab for playboy bunnies is acceptable...
I skip straight to such location because the first 45 minutes nothing happens. Apart from Bond picking up a new Mrs from a mob boss in exchange for 20 grand. That's not Bond paying for the girl she comes free and he gets paid 20 grand! This guy is good.
Bond's in the lair, and who should greet him? His old mate Blofeld. Remember him? Bond's been dancing around with the super villain for a few films now, time for catch up chat with old Blooey. Bond sits down for a drink, but he's undercover, Blofeld doesn't have a clue who he is. In disguise you ask? Nah, just dressed up like Sherlock Holmes and put on a whiney posh English accent...super villain fooled. Who now looks suspiciously like Telly Savalas...
But back to Bonding. George Bond is surrounded by a veritable smorgasbord of girls hanging on his every one word with anecdotes about British heraldry who could blame them for getting misty down below...Sure enough the first to buckle is a curly haired beauty (not Joanna Lumley who's lounging in the corner presumably dreaming about the Northern Lights...) but a lass from Morecombe Bay with a pesky chicken allergy which she's come to get cured at an isolated, alpine, rotating research lab surrounded by armed guards...see previous remarks on LSD.
Obviously Bond bags this beauty amongst a selection of the rest of the harem. Didn't he just marry Diana Rigg...? I guess some things never change. He's treated to some trippy light shows and the dastardly plot is revealed to be making all the worlds flora and fauna infertile by infecting them with a virus distributed by his hypnotised playboy bunnies...probably some magic mushrooms in there as well...
But to some action, at last! We're treated to a rather nice ski chase of which the highlight must surely be the poor henchman who clearly never made it past his third ski school lesson, dives head first into a snow machine where henchman really aren't supposed to go. The result surely inspired a certain scene from Fargo, snow has never been more crimson.
After a few more action set pieces after the Mrs turns up involving stock car racing and a final confrontation with Blooey on a bobsled (feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's...a much better film). As is his want, Bond leaves BloBlo hanging on a tree branch, won't bother killing him then...hang on what was the whole purpose of this mission to begin with? That probably won't come back to bite him...
World saved and surely Bond has radioed MI6 to air drop his sex raft. No, a new Bond, let's try something different. Remember that wife he just found, BAM! Karma Police drive-by that's what you get when you leave your arch nemesis to wander back to the ski lodge, have a goulash and plot his immediate revenge. Your wife just got shot in the head! On the plus side this does give us 2 minutes of genuinely poignant acting from George Bond with some tear jerking dialogue...clearly the writers just made it through rehab.
The karma laced sad ending aside, the general feeling is a pretty weird Bond, good girls, zero gadgets, limited confusing action but plenty of cheese littered throughout. The CURRYBONDers score On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Girls n Gadgets - 5.1/10
Cheese - 7.1/10
Action - 3.4/10
Overall - 5.0/10
The Curry Leg
After our early Sunday afternoon Bond we've got some time to kill, so with eight CURRYBONDers in tow we dip into a nearby recently refurbished drinking hole, The Trafalgar Arms. After a few un-official but rather tasty local beers we pick up an extra couple of rather reluctant CURRYBONDers. Unwilling to experience the wonders of George Bond we welcome them into the fold for the curry leg, as CURRYBOND is a liberal church they are more than welcome for just half a CURRYBOND.
Fortunately the official CURRYBOND start time remains and as we pass the accursed Onam we arrive at our premature visit to Apollo Banana Leaf, a Sri Lankan restaurant in the lower reaches of Tooting, a few minutes south of Tooting Broadway. It's a double fronted wonder but for some reason the owners have adopted the one side open one side shuttered look.
With our biggest ever curry leg we take our seats, unfortunately on the shuttered side. The decor is bright and colourful, with a number of landscapes possibly Sri Lankan but the provenance of the mirrors is obvious, IKEA, that's right those thin wobbly ones. The overall ambience is good, not fancy restaurant good, but good for CURRYBOND. Apollo Banana Leaf gets a
Venue score of 5.6/10
The menu looks good, a nice mix of interesting looking Sri Lankan dishes and the more conventional curry house fare. We dive into the starters and with ten CURRYBONDers we get a good look at this variety with dosas, puris, and of course our sixth entry to the Bhaji Bible. This particular bhaji is another onion behemoth. A Frankenstein of both the ball and crustacean style culminating into a giant spikey onion ball. The result is good, tasty bhaji with a nice crunch. They get a bhaji score of 7/10.
Next stage, bring on the curry. No surprise, there's a lot. On the menu for CURRYBOND six, Chicken Biryani, Saag Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken 65, Chicken Jalfrezi, Chicken Tikka Masala plus a whole load of other things I can no longer remember or read from the somewhat scribbly receipt. The reference CTM is nice, thick, creamy with good hunks of deep red chicken tikka. First impressions were good. I look at my Chicken 65, also large chunks of deep read chicken, this time rather dry but nicely spiced. I ask around my fellow CURRYBONDers. The Banker, who may have ordered a Jalfrezi in every curry establishment so far looks a bit concerned at his rather milky dish with red clumps sticking out. This one is not so good...
To sum up the currys on offer, mixed. It seems some of the more conventional curry dishes aren't really the forte of this establishment and perhaps the CURRYBONDers should have been more adventurous and branched out into the interesting looking Sri Lankan attractions on offer. Not a total disappointment but not a contender in the food stakes unfortunately. The CURRYBONDers award Apollo Banana Leaf with a
Food score of 6.5/10.
With fat bellies and one too many empty Cobra bottles left on the table we call for the bill. Benefitting from the another BYOB policy the total comes to £131.15 that's a solid £13.15/CURRYBONDer. A solid effort in the value stakes to bring the scores around achieving a
Value score of - 7.3/10.
We end CURRYBOND #6 with the official photo and tot up the overall scores. The CURRYBONDers give Apollo Banana Leaf an
Overall score of 6.5/10.
So after a shaky start, an acid laden Bond debut, and upside down running order, CURRYBOND #6 gets an overall score of 5.7/10.
The lowest score so far...the CURRYBOND gods have spoken.
CURRYBOND will return in Lahore Karahi + Diamonds are Forever