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