Taapsee Pannu, Akshay Kumar, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa
Neeraj Pandey, Shital Bhatia
‘Naam Shabana’ - this small dialogue, an unforgettable cameo and some kickass action in BABY had everyone sit up and notice Taapsee Pannu. With her social drama film PINK, she totally rocked the industry so much so that, we just wanted to know when the prequel for BABY will release! It has, but has it been worth the wait and the hype?
NAAM SHABANA takes you through the journey of Shabana Khan before and through her training as a government secret agent. Her troubled childhood, her fear of intimacy, her complex life has been carefully woven into the script, giving us the whys and the hows. But of course, the major chunk is dedicated to showing how well this seemingly ordinary girl made a space for herself in the secret services.
I would go to the extent of saying, that Shabana symbolizes the Indian woman, whose anger and angst can change fates and move mountains. Like Akshay Kumar says, ‘Issi ladki ka gussa bada kharab hai!’ Unfortunately, while he acknowledges her spirit, we see a lot of him through the film (albeit his is an elaborate cameo), managing and even helping Shabana, making audiences confused. Most of the audience members went into the theatres thinking they will see a woman kicking some serious butt and single-handedly taking down the baddies, and yet for some of the key sequences, we have had Kumar be the erstwhile hero that he is.
It does seem like somewhere down the line the filmmakers reinstated their loyalties towards Kumar. Agreed, he is her superior in the film so he does have a say but then don’t peg the film as a woman power project and then ask the super woman you have signed up to take a backseat – even for those one or two moments.
Talking about the super woman – TAAPSEE, this girl is certainly delivering everything she has promised. Taapsee as Shabana is powerful and yet vulnerable, making her very unpredictable and lethal. She is everything you thought she would be in the film and more. The beauty of her interpretation of Shabana is that she has insisted on treating her emotions as real with her confusions and her angst. It is startling to see emotions flash across her face -- even as she is delivering some really mean punches, she is does it with accuracy and grace.
Being a prequel of a film which was an unexpected hit, puts NAAM SHABANA on a backfoot because forget being unexpected, it has a huge amount of expectations to meet. Of course, with actors like Manoj Bajpai, Anupam Kher, Prithviraj...you cannot go wrong. And director Shivam Nair really hits the ball on the nail every time, when it comes to action. The choreography of the fight sequences are real though the screenplay is a wee-bit too predictable. Why is it that a strong woman has to have a broken heart to make her strong? Why can she turn tables when attacked by multiple thugs and yet run to her hunky senior for help? Why is that Prithiviraj who has been so secretive about all that he has done, suddenly change the game? Why is it that Akshay Kumar, who plays an elaborate cameo in film, is given credits before Taapsee? Why couldn’t the filmmakers decide what they wanted to make when they have such a fantastic team together?
It would be wrong to say that the film disappointed me, No! It is just that Taapsee deserves more!
For that matter, so does Prithviraj!