Naam Shabana

Vampire Owl: I know this person from Baby.

Vampire Bat: This is a spin-off prequel to that movie, and so it is no surprise that you know her.

Vampire Owl: So, this is both a spin-off and a prequel? That should mean two levels.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one also has Ajay Singh Rajput played by Akshay Kumar, Anjali Singh Rajput played by Madhurima Tuli and Om Prakash Shukla played by Anupam Kher.

Vampire Owl: And joins Shabana Khan played by Taapsee Pannu, I see.

Vampire Bat: There is also our own Prithviraj with an evil side.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see what can be better than that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ivide had shown his negative shades better than any other.

Vampire Owl: And we remember that older movie with him playing the bad cop getting reformed – Vargam, I guess. I also liked him in his other Bollywood movie, Aurangzeb.

Vampire Bat: Bollywood needs a few more in their movies, just like him. I still have Memories in my head.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) is a college student who is also practicing Judo to take part in a number of competitions. Her mother, Farida Begum Khan (Natasha Rastogi) is in full support of her, whatever she plans to do. She doesn’t hesitate in beating up people who cause any kind of nuisance, no matter how small it is, or how meaningless the fight is. She has made herself tougher, as she had grown up watching her father beat up her mother mercilessly all the time after coming home drunk and out of his senses. On one of those days when he was attacking her mother, she had hit her father so hard on the back of his head, that he ended up dead – it had left her in the juvenile home, until coming back stronger to help her mother move forward with her life. This flashback about her is rather unknown to her new friends.

So, what happens next? :: Shabana is quite a popular girl in the college, and one of her friends, Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala) has fallen in love with her. He asks her to accompany him for dinner, and they seem to have fallen in love, but on that night, they come across some eve teasing, to which she decides to respond – the result is Jai getting killed and leaving her scarred for life. His parents blame her for the incident, and despite going to the police station almost every day, she finds no progress at all. Frustrated and without hope, one day while returning from the police station, she gets the calls of an unknown man (Manoj Bajpayee) who gives her an offer she can’t refuse. She will get her revenge against the four men, but he wants something from her in return. So, will she manage to live up to the promise on her end, and will he be able to do the same?

The defence of Naam Shabana :: A lot of reviewers who go around in Bollywood are sure to miss how good Prithviraj Sukumaran has been in this movie, and there is that tendency to figure out how much they can appreciate everyone else. The makers won’t give that much for someone of such calibre, and the reviewers will just focus more on the Bollywood stars – just like I had written earlier in the review of the short-film, Invisible Actor, that there are actors and superstars, and there are those who are good enough to become both and maintain the balance. Along with him and Taapsee, the movie has its thrilling side going. There are also some very nice action sequences, and nothing overdone in that department. There are also some nice dialogues to go with the same – some of them are actually funny, whether intentional or not. It also feels good to get an origin story, which provides more scope for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Some scenes in this movies are just strange – with people removing their shirts to fight, vengeance given so much importance by an intelligence wing, the villain willingly giving away his identity when there was other options considering how smart he is, choosing the rookie to do this dangerous mission when there are experienced people around, and so on. It is still good to see that such Bollywood tendencies get to be controlled up to an extent. Shabana also has rather less attention on her character than everything else about her. Some of the moments just get funny when they shouldn’t have been, and we also get so much less of the villain who should have been the highlight of this movie from the darker side. The first half of the movie, with its stretched romance, becomes the rather too long thing here too. They could have done without the songs too.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Taapsee Pannu does provide some knockout punches here, and she suits the character really well – even when the character is not flawless, she nullifies a few bad sides. It her work in the original movie which has inspired this one, and she gets to play the girl with fire more. Everyone loved her in Pink, and this one no longer has her as a damsel in distress – she gets to make sure that her agency remains a proud one. Still, as her work in Baby was so effective in such a short time, that would be remembered more. Prithviraj Sukumaran who was seen in Malayalam movies which were different kind of thrillers, Oozham, Ezra and Tiyaan, here we have him playing the villain, and I am sure that having more of him would have helped this movie better. Akshay Kumar’s role is small, but quick and effective, while Manoj Bajpayee only gets to talk, without getting any action. Madhurima Tuli and Anupam Kher also cross over here from Baby.

How it finishes :: Naam Shabana is a movie which could have done better with more focus on its antagonist, and a more consistent character development of our protagonist. If you don’t go for this one with the expectations high considering Baby, you are surely not going to be disappointed – it is that one which automatically let the expectations go high, and the makers seem to have thought that this would bring the money. They could have made more money with better focus on Prithviraj, but here, they have taken rather too much time for even Taapsee’s training to begin. Still, Naam Shabana is another thriller that works, and even without the name of Baby attached to it, there is more to the tale. Maybe the stand-alone feeling will give the flick even more strength. You can only watch this one and come up with your own opinion, and the need for another movie in the franchise.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Shivam Nair
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Murali Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala, Natasha Rastogi, Manav Vij, Mohan Kapoor, Elli Avram, Shibani Dandekar, Virendra Saxena, Aparna Upadhyay

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Baby

baby (1)

Vampire Owl :: I am so confused that I can’t make a decision which movie to watch this weekend.

Vampire Bat :: It is the calming time after the tsunami which was Vikram’s I. Every Malayalam movie was waiting to avoid a release competing with the big thing that was I, because they understood what the best possible result for their movies was.

Vampire Owl :: There are so many Malayalam movies and a Hindi movie in the local theatres – how can we choose this time?

Vampire Bat :: I say, we toss a coin.

Vampire Owl :: I say we look at the theatre list.

Vampire Bat :: The irony is that the best movie might not come to our nearby theatres. It is how things work.

Vampire Owl :: And these movies are going to be mutually destructive to each other, and it is a shame that they release together.

Vampire Bat :: I say, you drive the motor-bike straight; we will go through the path which has less traffic and reach any theatre and watch the movie there.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, let fate decide.

Vampire Bat :: Unless fate is like Uncle Dracula.

[Reaches a theatre].

What is it about? :: During a mission in Istambul, Indian special agent Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) manages to uncover details about a number of possible terrorist attacks against India from outside, which is from a few people who are part of a terrorist organization in the neighbouring country and also from the inside which includes a group of brainwashed people. As Maulana Mohammed Rahman (Rasheed Naz) plots about the same from outside the nation, Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) escapes from prison and plans from inside the country. To stop these attacks, the team of Ajay Singh Rajput and Priya Suryavanshi (Taapsee Pannu) have to first go to Nepal and find the first link, and then Ajay and another team will have to go to Saudi Arabia in a more dangerous mission. Can the team go past all their obstacles and come out victorious using all their skills?

The defence of Baby :: This movie gives you no nonsense, and it is all about action, that too in a rather believable collection of events. There are no flying bodies here, and fighting and getting beaten up actually means that. The best thing is that this doesn’t go in the path of Holiday which was always trying to take itself down; here we don’t say our hero making fake speech about patriotism, because we get it from the way in which the movie progresses. There are some nice dialogues about being secular and being Indian, but patriotism is something that runs through this movie and preaching about it is never needed. There is no dumb romance as in the movie or any full song, and this one is bloody serious about how it goes. The only comparison that can be made is with Madras Cafe, but that one was more realistic and cent percent serious; striving towards perfection – this one has its own serious comedy here and there which works. The visuals of three abroad locations are nice too. The background music also works. The thrills are plenty.

The Claws of Flaw :: Our hero is still beyond mistakes except for a few, and his family life was something of not much need here, plus no other family is shown in the whole movie. This reminds us of Mission Impossible franchise too, especially with the first scene involving Tom Cruise’ Ethan Hunt saving Keri Russell’s character – Akshay Kumar does something similar here. There is also a certain amount of drag associated with this, but that is very rare and happening more due to the length of the movie and the effort to stretch the thrilling moments further more. There is also the lesser use of the female cast when they were actually doing good. There might be some loopholes here and there in the movie too, and considering the build-up, a bigger climax and ending would have been expected. Everything comes together too easily by the end and it is a “terrorist hunting happily ever after” finish.

Performers of the soul :: Akshay Kumar goes in and comes out strong in this movie, as he works his way to perfection with his character. I would believe that this is exactly how the character was supposed to be; mostly emotion-free, sharp and improvising. This is the type of Akshay Kumar who is awesome. After all, he is the khiladi as we know him, and this is one role in which he can play his best. Madhurima Tuli is one of the prettiest faces on the screen indeed, but she is restricted to a small role here which she manages with ease and lights up those moments. Taapsee Pannu, the other female lead gets more to do on the screen, but her role is also limited to one mission; still she manages to do some stunts and make an impact. Anupam Kher is very good there too, and he along with Rana Daggubati and our protagonist makes a nice, interesting, lethal and funny combination which makes the need for a sequel right there. All the villains are effective, but it is not against personalities or communities that the team goes – it is against evil.

Soul exploration :: Baby surely has a strong heart. There is also the application of the much needed intelligence which has been lacking in Bollywood. It is yet another symbol Bollywood growing up, away from the childishness of flicks like Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3. This is also what Holiday should have been instead of being a masala action thriller, but that was just a remake and stuck to the plans. The movie salutes those who tries and work hard to keep the nation as well as its citizens safe, and this is the one nice tribute to them, and the only one movie which I can consider as a better tribute was Tango Charlie. The movie also works to build on that “Indian” identity which beyond religion, caste, creed, language and colour. Lets give this movie the salute that it deserves, as it doesn’t degrade itself to a commercial flick and try something from the Ek Tha Tiger model either.

How it finishes :: Baby surely needs support, not just because it seems to be the best of the weekend from what I have heard so far, but also because only with such movies succeeding, can we keep the terrible mindless movies away from the big screen. There is an unbelievable amount of toughness in this movie, and this Mission Impossible of India actually settles for five percent of success with their “impossible” as our protagonists say in this movie. Lets make one thing clear; Baby is not Holiday, and it means that you have to take this one seriously. Romance is not mandatory; songs are not needed; villains flying on hero’s contact is a waste – this is Baby, and the movie means something beyond mindless action and thrills; it is above them both intellectually and straight from the heart. Thank you Neeraj Pandey for beginning the Bollywood side so well for me; the first Hindi movie of the year that I watch in the theatre raises my hopes high for the rest of the year.

Release date: 23rd January 2015
Running time: 159 minutes
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Madhurima Tuli, Taapsee Pannu, Rana Daggubati, Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa, Kay Kay Menon, Sushant Singh, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Rasheed Naz, Rasheed Naz, Karan Wahi

baby

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.