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Naam Shabana  : Aggro Without Aim
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Friday, March 31, 2017
Action
Shivam Nair
Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar

Writer Neeraj Pandey has two incompatible objectives: one, to build up a kickass female spy and two, to make use of Akshay Kumar, the action star.

 

Sure enough, he slips between them and comes up with a badass screenplay full of chinks. 

 

Shabana Khan roughs up guys who inadvertently brush against her and apologise. People tailing her are impressed. She wins martial arts tournaments: they’re impressed again.  She avenges the loss of her boyfriend: they’re so impressed, they offer to recruit her and train her. They are the men who run a nameless government agency that works in the shadows for the security of the country.

 

And then the writer’s second objective of wanting to milk Akshay Kumar’s stardom kicks in. Literally, as Ajay, the best the agency has, breaks a glass window to make his entry and rescue Shabana from a sticky situation. He proceeds tosimply escort her out of a connecting door and you wonder, maybe he could’ve come in the same way too instead of crashing through glass.

 

Making overlong films is a standard Neeraj Pandey weakness. But when it combines with huge transgressions in logic you mourn the disappearance of the maker who caught your attention with a crisp film called A Wednesday.

 

Mikhail, an international arms dealer who is wanted by every agency in the world, is introduced in Vienna where he fells two Indian agents and texts their handler that this was too simple, send me your best.

 

A feeble attempt at a twist is made when the action shifts to Malaysia. A revelation that’s obvious from the word go, makes you wonder why a super smart villain would give Indian agents an important lead that blows his identity.

 

There are many more question marks in store, the biggest being, why would the agency send Shabana to catch the most wanted man on the planet if their best is Ajay and he’s twiddling his thumbs in the next room?

 

Director Shivam Nair brings in all the staple Neeraj Pandey faces like Anupam Kher and Danny Denzongpa for effete roles not worth their time. The dialogues are packed with lines in English and Manoj Bajpayee playing Shabana’s main handler spouts strange lines like, “Women are born spies”.Neeraj Pandey’s weak humour is manifest in inane scenes of an agent with a weak kidney.          

 

Malayalam cinema’s super star Prithvidoesn’t quite pack a wallop.Taapsee Pannu as Shabana is extremely earnest but this female spy needed a kickass script.

 

For a promising premise that soon loses credibility, Naam Shabana gets a 2.5* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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