By Meetali Kutty
Title: Naam Shabana
Director: Shivam Nair
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Tapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee
Genre: Thriller, Action
This film aims to be a spin-off of the popular film Baby, but fails to match up to the expectations of the audience. While Baby was a taut film with a gripping narrative and well paced scenes, Naam Shabana lags in parts, with a slow first half and a rushed ending that feels unsatisfying.
This film is centred around Shabana, played by the wonderful Tapsee Pannu, and the tragedy that shaped her life and made her join the espionage service in search for retribution. Tapsee plays her character with zeal, and is equally stunning during her action scenes or when showcasing raw emotion. The interesting part of the film is it is helmed by a strong woman lead (although overshadowed in the credits by Akshay Kumar in a guest role!)
Shabana is a girl who enjoys martial arts and being with her family. She is pursued by a young man who she inevitably falls for but who she loses under tragic circumstances. This tragedy allows Manoj Bajpayee, the leader of a shadowy organization, to recruit her and help her get revenge on those who wronged her.
Akshay Kumar’s cameo role seems tacked on, but is sure to be a crowd pleaser as the theatre erupted into applause when he arrived. There are plenty of plotholes in the film such as why they would choose a rank newcomer to the system to chase one of their most sought after criminal masterminds, or how a complex medical procedure seems as simplistic as a dental visit. There are lighter moments in the film that serve well to break up the tension, but overall the plot lacks the intricacies of the far superior Baby.
Tapsee Pannu is the shining star of this venture, and manages to breathe life into the material. The item numbers seem forced, and are surely placed there for some appeal to the masses, which in my mind seems to be a wrong step. The directing is up to par, but the movie is let down by the script, which could have used more fine tuning, and lacks tension. Manoj Bajpayee is also good in his role, and fits into the universe of the film smoothly, while Akshay Kumar’s performance feels a little flat. The cinematography of the film is also vibrant and adds some depth to this lackluster fare.
This film could certainly have taken a few tips from Baby!