Naam Shabana movie review: Taapsee Pannu kicks some serious butt, Akshay Kumar comes in for a praiseworthy cameo to show how the big boys do it. But the film falls flat as a credible storyline goes missing.
Naam Shabana movie cast: Taapsee Pannu, Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Danny Denzongpa
Naam Shabana movie director: Shivam Nair
Naam Shabana movie rating: 1.5 stars
What’s not to like about a film which toplines a girl who kicks serious butt? Given producer and writer Neeraj Pandey’s record of ratcheting up the patriotic quotient, it comes as no surprise that Naam Shabana’s leading lady does it for her country.
What does come as a surprise, however, is just how much of a drag the film is. Except for a few stray sequences in which the limber Taapsee Pannu goes after the bad guys, and the ones in which co-star Akshay Kumar moves in to demonstrate how the big boys do it, there is nothing either novel or interesting about the film.
Taapsee Pannu plays Shabana, a girl with a dark past, who lives with her mother, and who is hand-picked to join an intelligence group that appears to have sweeping powers when they target enemies of the state.
Many of the characters show up from Pandey’s Baby (2015) including Pannu’s Shabana who had bit part; Naam Shabana tells us just how she came to be a special agent skilled with her hands. Pannu left an impression in that brief role. Here, she gets a role many leading ladies would kill for, and she makes us believe it is her doing the action, not
a body double, but she is strangely held in, and strictly one-note. Did she get stymied by the demands of her part, or was she instructed to keep her aspect closed, leaving her much too stiff?
The other problem is the plot. Or, more precisely, the lack of it. There’s a great deal of toing and froing, from cool European cities to tropical desi locations, as the gang of spies, headed by Manoj Bajpayee’s chief, goes after a global arms kingpin, also involved in trafficking and drugs. But you are left looking for a credible storyline in a film which is meant to focus upon the smarts of its leading lady, which, instead, gives us such unintentionally hilarious lines as: ‘women are born spies’. Or words to that effect.
You would think that the dishy Prithviraj Sukumaran’s appearance as the chief villain, all sharp suits, studded ear, surrounded by black-suited henchmen with bristling guns, would rev up things. But even that reliably excellent actor gets lost in this all-over-the-place flick. And the final nail is the incessantly annoying background music. It goes on and on. So does the film.