Naam Shabana - Review

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for DVD (?)
quick review:

Good news: There is a woman beating up bad man after bad man to save the world. Bad news: That is not qualification enough to make a film good.

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Wogma Review

The first fear of many non-Askhay Kumar fans, especially after watching the trailer was that Naam Shabana will become more about him than the protagonist, Shabana (Tapsee Pannu). To Akshay Kumar fans' dismay that is thankfully not true. Unfortunately though, just having a female protagonist who swiftly beats men up doesn't make for a good thriller. You know what that means right? Neither of the two sections of the audience mentioned above are likely to be satisfied.

Whenever a film has two distinct sections it raises a flag in my head. Does each one hold interest as a stand-alone story? Usually neither is. Such films have to work more than double of working on a single story because the connection is all important and shouldn't feel contrived. Is the connect between the two stories strong and interesting? Most likely that isn't there either. Unfortunately, that's true of Naam Shabana too.

The episodic aspects of the story have question marks written all over them too. For instance, Shabana's plan before interval is rather tactless or for a very smart and dreaded villain it is strange that he doesn't know he is being followed. To top it all off, the screenplay is ridden with an unnecessary mysterious ambiance.

All this slows down an already slo-mo-aided film. Sure, some directorial decisions are subtle and nicely done such as the aerial views of cities – from Mumbai to Vienna to Kuala Lampur; choosing not to add a couple-bonding-while-falling-in-love montage; choosing not to explain rules of the sport Shabana is playing; picking a rather mundane location as a meeting spot for characters which sticks in audience's memory to be retrieved later in the film.

In one swift interaction between characters the writers address religion, call sport a waste of time, comments on soldiers and even slides in a sexist remark. Later in the film, there is even a dig at corporates taking advantage of “free” mentality (Jio?). You could debate the point of view, but the writing brought a smile. You also smile as you wonder why only Shabana needed all this training while the male field agents got by with paunches.

Despite some parts of the film seeming over-directed through camera angles, background music, awfully edited action sequences and slow-motion, the subtlety mentioned above and some of the character nuances work. Shabana is introduced as a woman who will not be wronged even if she is not entirely right through a sequence rather than a voiceover. That in itself is fresh. Tapsee Pannu adds to the character by the slightest shift in expression. You discover that Shabana likes being wooed by this one guy but she corrects her emotions within a few seconds – and you can see this transition through Tapsee Pannu. On the other hand Manoj Bajpai seems uni-dimensional and Akshay Kumar comes across as comic relief.

While I will let you wonder if Shabana has to play the “woman” card, what I really admired that the makers mostly resisted giving her anything glamorous. The only thing that could be remotely called glamorous is that this seemingly middle class girl almost never wore the same set of clothes twice.

Given these things that were done well, the pace of the film could have been forgiven. But, it is difficult to forgive no pounding hearts in a thriller. When the protagonist feels too safe, nothing can make you worry about her, can it?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots of fist fights
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: An attempt at making-out scenes
  • Concept: A woman is chosen to be a field agent in a covert operation.
  • General Look and Feel: The regular action texture.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 1.5
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 2.5
  • Screenplay: 1.5
  • Music Director: 2
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Naam Shabana - Movie Details

Naam Shabana - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Sonia:

A must watch movie! Should be watched up in theatre.

Fan:

I am not sure where the makers of the film floundered. Did they spend way too much footage on showing how a rookie is identified, evangelized, trained and prepared to be a field agent? Or was it that the journey is depicted in a less engaging manner than one would have expected it? Either way, the film seems a drag - a story that is taking a long time to come to the main thriller part. I am of course assuming that the thriller part was the main point. If the journey from rookie to expert was supposed to the main part, then it was wasted thoroughly.

As for the thriller part, it was too simple, short, and you-wish kind of an affair. That the best of the best field agents are overweight and of the shapes of your typical hawaldar did not help give much credibility to the already simple plot. That the most dreaded criminal being searched by several countries worldwide is roaming without any security could happen, but in a fictional film it seems very strange.

Like in the "sequel" Baby, this film too is split in two distinct halves, each half having more or less its own independent story. No concerns with that as an approach. But whilst watching the pre-interval parts I am persuaded that the audience (who have watched the trailers/promos) knows very well that all this is a prelude to the real story that will follow. And as such it does not become interesting to watch as one is impatient to get to the real stuff. The assignments given before recruiting the rookie are also extreme, in my opinion. You can't expect a novice to perform such acts.

The performances are strictly alright. Akshay Kumar's brief presence adds star power on the screen, but does not have any sensible purpose. Even Shabana questions his presence/purpose at a certain point in time. And in another sequence, repeated in the trailers, Akshay Kumar quips in that since I have been "invited" let me do something. Anupam Kher is wasted too. Prithvi also has no particular stuff to emote.

All in all the film will not remain in memories for a long time. No particular department that stands out.

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