Verdict – Taapsee Pannu makes this baby work.
Neeraj Pandey’s Baby received critical praise when it hit the theatres back in 2015. The film focused on a secret elite Indian intelligence task force with, Akshay Kumar playing the lead. In Baby, we also saw glimpses of Shabana, an intelligence officer played by Taapsee Pannu. Naam Shabana, written and produced by Pandey, is a spin-off from Baby that focuses on Shabana’s character and her journey of becoming an Indian intelligence officer.
While Akshay Kumar and Neeraj Pandey is an actor-director combination that can work wonders, in Naam Shabana, we have Shivam Nair in the director’s chair. Shabana Khan is a middle-class college girl who pretty much keeps to herself. A judo champion, she prefers using her fists than words when messed with. However, her life takes a drastic turn when one night, she and her lover face a group of eve-teasers. Her fateful past and her unique skill set make her a perfect candidate and Shabana is contacted by Rajveer (Manoj Bajpai). Therein begins her quest for revenge and her tryst with the Indian intelligence agency.
As far as spin-offs and prequels go, Naam Shabana ticks all the boxes. The story of Shabana, how she came to be and how she fits in the larger storyline is explained in much detail. With an extended cameo by Akshay Kumar, who seems to appear every time Shabana needs a helping hand, and Anupam Kher reprising his role, the characters and events perfectly link back to the Baby franchise. However, it is when we look at Naam Shabana as an independent film that the flaws become more evident.
Taapsee Pannu manages to get under the skin of the rather stoic character and bring it to life. Akshay Kumar kicking down glass doors and throwing around experienced punches is something we will never get bored of. The film drags in the first half but picks up pace post-intermission as Shabana is sent on her first mission. As much as we hate saying this, Akshay Kumar's presence plays a huge role in making an otherwise dull film more interesting.
As far as spy thrillers go, Naam Shabana is not the best we’ve seen and may leave the viewers longing for more. The songs and their placements seem forced and an ardent lover of thrillers may find the story line to be riddled with loopholes and too predictable. However, the finesse with which Pannu manages to portray her role, especially her whistle-worthy action sequences, make the film worth a watch.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you loved Neeraj Pandey’s Baby, Naam Shabana will definitely interest you. Moreover, Taapsee Pannu delivers a truly kickass performance and her story will keep you engaged. Combine these two factors and Naam Shabana makes for a perfect weekend watch.