Director: Shivam Nair
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Anupam Kher
Naam Shabana could have been a better film with a spontaneous direction and more thrilling negative character. Apart from Taapsee Pannu aka Shabana’s background story, rest of the movie feels just generic.
So, we saw fierce Shabana in Akshay Kumar’s 2015 film ‘Baby’ for a small role and now we witness her journey of becoming a spy for the agency in ‘Naam Shabana’. Written by Neeraj Pandey, the film displays how Shabana grabbed the attention of the secret agency of India and her bravery made her highly qualified to be a spy. The film further dives into her dangerous assignments to hunt down and kill the enemies who are threat to our nation and the world.
Firstly, I loved the overall approach of Neeraj Pandey’s script. He actually has written an elaborate and comprehensive story for Shabana’s early life. How she was always the brave one, aggressive and ready to fight the bad guys head on. Even director Shivam Nair develops Shabana’s character very well to make us connect with her. That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the first half. Not many movies take effort to show such deep history of the spy. We have seen so many Hollywood and Bollywood action films but they don’t cover the complete past of the agent.
Shabana’s introduction to the agency, the ghostly existence of the spies and the hardcore training is nicely written and directed. But I felt the direction was weak for the first 20 minutes of the film when Jay and Shabana’s love interest is blossoming. The screenplay too, was very stretched during that time.
The first half is thrilling with Shabana on her way to become a spy. Once that happens, the film is just average in all sorts. The assignment she gets and her approach and the villain, all these aspects don’t stick strongly to the narrative. Tony (Prithviraj Sukumaran) outsmarting three agents in a room even at gunpoint was not convincing and the whole scenario of run and chase between him and Shabana-Ajay-Shuklaji was too dull. The amazement that was built during Shabana’s spy becoming in the initial stages is lost in the latter phases.
Image Source: Reliance Entertainment
Shivam Nair needed to short down the songs which eat a lot of time in the film. He did a great job as far as the first half is concerned when Taapsee suffers, fights and joins the agency. But, he failed to keep the momentum afterwards. The spy story is only as interesting as the mission and the negative character and that was lacking in Naam Shabana.
The actions are good. Taapsee’s fight tournaments, training and actual face-off with the bad guys is appreciable. What’s more disheartening is that Taapsee Pannu has delivered a commendable role but the story and direction couldn’t make the film as powerful as her efforts.
Coming to the performances, ‘Pink‘ actress Taapsee Pannu is raising the bar of her acting higher with each movie. The most important thing for her to do was to look dead serious, without any feelings or emotions and she did it marvelously. Even when Jay opens up to her about his love towards her, Taapsee’s unaffected reaction was spot on. The determination for revenge, intensity in fights, never giving up attitude during training and a presence of mind while carrying out the dangerous mission, all these context were handled and enacted brilliantly by her. Even when the story is not looking much interesting, she at least manages to grab the attention. It’s always wonderful to see actors giving their 100% to the role.
Manoj Bajpayee is always a delight to watch. Tracking Shabana, helping her out and guiding her to the mission, he gives a good performance as the Head of the mission. I do feel he could have avoided this role as there is nothing special in it which can unleash his huge acting potential.
Akshay Kumar had a small role in the film and he doesn’t disappoint. Always right on to business, he comes when Shabana is in trouble and helps her out. His presence gives the film a strong support. Prithviraj Sukumaran as Tony is a great cast for the role. His eyes are intense and makes him perfect for such characters.
Naam Shabana couldn’t thrill completely due to the multiple inadequacies in its script and Shivam Nair’s direction. Taapsee Pannu has given a memorable performance as a spy Shabana. The film fails to make the story thrilling and ends up being an average attempt.