Naam Shabana – A Story Of Gritty, Sometimes Witty Shabana

If you have watched Neeraj Pandey’s 2015 action thriller, Baby, you’ll know Shabana. Played by Taapsee Pannu, Shabana is a character who oozes grit and determination. Patriotic to the hilt and righteous in the most positive sense of the word, Shabana knows no limit when it comes to serving her country.

Obviously, Naam Shabana follows Shabana’s story from before her secret agent days. After her boyfriend is killed by some entitled sons of politicians, Shabana seeks revenge. And this is when the Indian Intelligence Agencies come in, revealing that she has been on their radar for a long time now. Taking this as a perfect opportunity, they pull her in after offering her a chance to get her revenge. She is then given the task of assassinating arms dealer, Mikhail (Prithviraj Sukumaran). Guided by her superiors at the Agency, Ranvir Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) and Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar), Shabana sets out to complete the task.

The reason why Naam Shabana came into existence was the immense applause that Shabana’s fight sequence in Baby garnered. Her fighting Wasim Khan (Sushant Singh) in a Kathmandu hotel gave the film an adrenalin rush that had people praising her performance to the stars. Baby seemed like a simple operation that seemed too easy, though it was uplifting to say the least. In contrast, Naam Shabana has its moments of conflict, though the film is a little slow in places.

Naam Shabana is a movie that embodies women empowerment, with Taapsee kicking ass in many parts of the film. It shows that women are no longer the submissive humans that the world has seen to date and that we are now ready to stand up against wrongs done to us. It is impressive, the way Neeraj Pandey has taken a cameo appearance and turned it into a full-fledged back story, this time to be directed by Shivam Nair.

I loved a lot of things about the movie: women empowerment, victory of good over bad, revenge for a lost beloved, and the list goes on. In combination with her quest for revenge and her becoming a spy, Naam Shabana teeters on the brink of being dubbed as a film with two exciting genres. One, a revenge thriller, and the other, a spy thriller. The movie shows both the smaller picture – Shabana’s personal goal – and the larger picture – the one where she has to battle evil against the country along with her team.

What I hated about the movie, though, was the fact that in a woman-centric film, Akshay Kumar was still made to be the hero. His name comes first in the credits despite Taapsee being the central character. How fair is that to a woman who has a movie of her own? I know Akshay is a huge star in his own right and most probably would not have asked for it, but the makers should have had better sense than to put Akshay Kumar’s name on top of Taapsee’s. The film is called Naam Shabana for God’s sake. Not ‘Naam Ajay’.

All in all, Taapsee does a good job in convincing us as Shabana. She kicks ass, has dry humor in places, and achieves what she sets out to do, albeit with a little help from her team!

Rating: 3/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: bollywoodbubble.com!

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