Bell Bottom is a 2021 Bollywood thriller film starring Akshay Kumar as an undercover agent who foils a series of plane hijackings in the 1980s. The film, directed by Ranjit Tewari, is inspired by true events during the reign of Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India. But is the film also based on a real-life person? Many fans have speculated that Akshay Kumar’s character is modeled after Ajit Doval, the current National Security Advisor and a former intelligence officer. Here is what we know about the possible connection between Bell Bottom and Ajit Doval.
Who is Ajit Doval?
Ajit Doval, born in 1945, is one of India’s most decorated and respected spymasters. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1968 and was later deputed to the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency. He served as the head of its operations wing for a decade and was involved in several covert missions in Pakistan, Kashmir, Punjab, Northeast and Sri Lanka. He was awarded the Kirti Chakra, India’s second-highest peacetime gallantry award, for his role in Operation Black Thunder, a counter-terrorism operation in the Golden Temple in 1988. He also negotiated the release of passengers from the hijacked IC-814 flight in Kandahar in 1999. He retired as the Director of R&AW in 2005 and later founded the Vivekananda International Foundation, a think tank. He was appointed as the National Security Advisor by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 and has been instrumental in shaping India’s foreign and security policies.
Is Bell Bottom based on Ajit Doval?
The makers of Bell Bottom have not officially confirmed or denied that the film is based on Ajit Doval or any other real-life person. However, there are some similarities and hints that suggest that Akshay Kumar’s character may be inspired by Doval or other R&AW agents of that era. For instance,
- The film’s title, Bell Bottom, is said to be the code name given to Akshay Kumar’s character by his seniors. This is similar to how Doval was given the code name Black Tiger by his colleagues.
- The film shows Akshay Kumar as an undercover agent who infiltrates a terrorist group and prevents a hijacking plot. This is reminiscent of how Doval spent seven years in Pakistan as an undercover agent and gathered vital intelligence on terrorist organizations.
- The film depicts the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight in 1984 by Khalistani separatists who demand the release of their leader. This is based on the real-life hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 423, which was diverted to Lahore and then to Dubai by Sikh militants who wanted the release of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other prisoners.
- The film features Lara Dutta as Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister of India at that time and who played a crucial role in resolving the national crisis. Doval had a close working relationship with Indira Gandhi and was her personal security officer during her visit to Srinagar in 1983.
- The film also shows Akshay Kumar interacting with other R&AW officials and politicians who resemble some of the real-life figures of that period, such as R.N. Kao, G.C. Saxena, Rameshwar Nath Kao and P.V. Narasimha Rao.
Bell Bottom is not a biopic or a documentary on Ajit Doval or any other R&AW agent. It is a fictionalized account of a real-life incident that showcases the bravery and patriotism of India’s intelligence community. However, it is possible that the film has taken some creative liberties and drawn some inspiration from the lives and exploits of Doval and his contemporaries. Whether or not Bell Bottom is based on Ajit Doval, it is undoubtedly a tribute to his legacy and service to the nation.