A covert intelligence gathering unit, designed to operate only for a 5 year period was instituted by the Indian government. Since its tenure was only 5 years, they called themselves BABY.
To cut to the chase, this will be Neeraj Pandey’s least appealing film. He has developed a name for himself due to high standards set by him in A Wednesday & Special 26. Somehow, that realistic thriller genre, which he has made for himself, doesn’t gel this time.
The film is episodic in nature, hence it moves form a mission in Istanbul to Mumbai interval. Then it moves to Kathmandu and then Saudi Arabia (actually Abu Dhabi). So like a Hollywood film, supporting characters come and go in the live of superagent, supercop, superman Akshay Kumar, who is always in a ‘conference’ for his family, sacrificing them over nation.
The list of bad guys, Taufeeq, Bilal, Wasim, Jaleel & Mullah seem to be more charged up about their cause than the good guys at times. So with a cast of Mujeeb Khan, Kay Kay Menon, Sushaant Singh & Pakistani actor Rasheed Naaz as Mullah, they have their hands full. Unfortunately, poor Kay Kay doesn’t have much to do. So he is used for his star power as the dreaded agent Bilal who has the plans to blow up major Indian cities.
The team of BABY, headed by bureaucrat Feroze Ali (Danny) on the other hand seems very disjointed. Akshay gives one of his best performances ever as the dead pan, single minded spy. It is his reactions to Taufeeq, to the minister’s PA Murli Sharma which are the best scenes in the film. Sure to get a rousing applause from the audience.
Tapsee Punnu gets her moment in the sun during the Kathmandu mission, where she single handedly beats an agent to pulp. Sushant Singh shines in his interrogation scene.
Rana D has nothing much to do other than flex his muscles. Literally. Poor Madhurima Tulli (the wife / boss in the mobile network ad) has also barely anything to do, then just look hapless.
Anupam Kher, who has been the star of Neeraj’s previous films, enters only after 2 hours for the last mission, which is enough for him to leave his mark on the film, only wish there were more of him.
Danny’s character seems to have the only job of handling the minister and mobilizing resources, whilst walking in huge corridor offices overlooking the India Gate. He never has a plan or solution to any situation, rather he looks to Ajay for everything. Wonder why.
The movie has its heart in the right place, therefore after a very slow first hour, this 160 minute film, picks up pace in the second half and does give you its edge of the seat moments. Yes, the similarity to Argo will hit you in your face, but that’s the escapist route Pandey has taken this time. Quite a few things will make you question, for example, when Akshay gets stabbed and gets a doctor to bandage him, why couldn’t he get stitches at the same time, why does he leave the wound open, they were in a hospital after all; Kay Kay’s mega meetings, has drawings of pistols?; how and why does Bilal manage to escape on Marine Drive in broad daylight? What were the mega plans which seemed so urgent in context but you cant relate to as a viewer?
Mind you, it is not a bad film, on the contrary. It is a very intelligent thriller which will appeal to the public. It was never a 100 crore flick. What one feels let down by is Pandey’s handling of the matter, which at times is too filmy, something which he is not known for. What he lacks in this is the humane aspect of its protagonists, who seem to lack it at times.
Rating : 3/5