Naam Shabana

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

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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Director: Shivam Nair
Running time: 150 minutes
Genres: Action, Thriller
More Movie Info

Naam Shabana - Preview

The story might wind a few ways, which even sound interesting, but it ultimately comes down to a covert operation aimed at saving the world by Akshay Kumar. Along the way you have a woman who has been crossed. And what to do they say about the wrath of scorned women?

It is just that you don't expect a frail Tapsee Pannu, especially after she has played rather timid roles in Pink and The Ghazi Attack. She holds one expression well, and it doesn't look like the film requires her to do more.

So, expectations then are as low as hoping that it won't bore us by being more of the same and provide the minimum thrills expected from this genre.

Music Reviews:
Bollywood Hungama - "2/5"
Deccan Chronicle - "screams avoidable to the listener"
Milliblog - "Rochak’s Rozana is Shabana’s highlight"

- meeta, a part of the audience

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.

I will let you wonder if Shabana has to play the “woman” card

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.

All this slows down an already slo-mo-aided film.

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

31 reviewers(?) - 8 yays 9 so-so 14 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Samedha Arora, Desi Martini : ...Shabhana is not a cute Baby, she's Badass ... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, : ...The first half is terrific and Akshay Kumar's entry is rightly planned.... full review

Thumbs up, by Manjusha 
Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ... some top-notch performances from some of the most talented actors in Hindi cinema.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Both Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher make the most of their limited screen time and even while their body language says 'I'm working on a holiday', they know this film barely demands any more. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaihayasi Pande Daniel, Rediff : ...Taapsee is super. But that's not to say that the rest of the cast isn't tremendous.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...the narrative gives the protagonist a chance to normalize the heroic tendency.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, Times of India : ...Straight away it reminds you how women are no longer helpless when teased by a bunch of drunken louts... full review

Thumbs up, by IANS, Zee News : ...It is a remarkable performance but then this is a remarkable film. The two halves of the narrative are almost like two different films, both equally irresistible. ... full review

So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...Shivam Nair surely does a decent job in directing the thriller film but it’s the weak and disjointed screenplay that acts as a spoilsport... full review

So-So, by Dev Raj Gulati, Desi Martini : ...Why do the under cover agents give breathing time to the suspects to escape and cause fatalities when a single immediate shot is enough?... full review

So-So, by Sarita A Tanwar, DNA : ...The film is not as gripping or fast-paced as you’d expect a thriller to be. ... full review

So-So, by Indranil Majumdar, : ...In Sukumaran's defense, he plays it really well, despite being mocked by some shallow writing and character development.... full review

So-So, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : is also a subtle dig at quintessential action sequences where the hero and the villain rip off their shirts and have a fist fight (think Dabangg), which elicits some chuckles.... full review

So-So, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...Oddly, in one of the scenes where Shabana finally steps into the agency headquarters, we don’t see a single lady, not even as a desk employee. ... full review

So-So, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...oes have its moments, though that doesn’t mean the numerous flaws in the film are to be ignored... full review

So-So, Now : ...Manisha LakheOf course you've seen it all before... full review

So-So, by Saumil Gandhi, Upper Stall : ...Through the film, Akshay Kumar is constantly seen holding her hand and walking her out of trouble.... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...I have never seen Manoj Bajpayee rendering such silly dialogues with a funny, supreme conviction ever before on the screen in his entire career.... full review

Thumbs down, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...Pannu acquits herself well, but why does she have a mono expression face running through the film’s 148 minutes, one would wonder? ... full review

Thumbs down, by Megna Santhosh , Desi Martini : ...Megna Santhosh Most of the scenes leave you strangled with an array of unanswered questions... full review

Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vetticad, FirstPost : ...Now if only they had devoted time to building up her character and developing a credible story around her.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...the ridiculous excuse that women have a sixth sense that makes them more lethal without gadgets is laughable really... full review

Thumbs down, by Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times : ...While the revenge part is meted out in typical Bollywood style, he resorts to his own style when handling the thriller.... full review

Thumbs down, by Vivek, India Entertainment : ...This is not to insinuate that the film (and the team) isn’t smart, both are, but a film meant to be centred around Shabana doesn’t remain so till the end and that disproves its smartness... full review

Thumbs down, Indicine : ...Neeraj Pandey, who directed Baby has written the screenplay of this spinoff but the mark is completely missed with this movie... full review

Thumbs down, by Udita Jhunjhunwala, Live Mint : ...Almost as baffling as the remixed number Zubi Zubi thrust in leading into Akshay Kumar being bathed by a lissome lass, allegedly a source of crucial information... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...She was born with one expression: pursed lips, with an occasional grin, and a permanently brooding face. She wears a standard uniform: salwar kameez, sneakers, haversack, and a thick black wrist watch.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Taapsee Pannu, in Shabana's guise, comes out swinging. But keeping the momentum going proves very difficult. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, : ...The film is on solid ground when she’s throwing punches, but little else is as compelling.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...But the movie is undermined by the slowburn narrative, deafening background score, bloated running time (148 minutes, including songs) and the belief-beggaring missions that mark Shabana’s evolution from a studious teenager into a killing machine.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The film feels like an infinitely long drawn and highly predictable affair in which Pannu does her routine mechanically—with a no make-up look, some brusque talk and several mixed martial arts moves.... full review

23 tweeters(?) - 13 yays 2 so-so 8 nays

yaminiram: Why action heroine Taapsee needs 'big bro' Akshay?is exactly my Q in otherwise a good movie

thebhokalibong: Thoroughly enjoyed Naam Shabana.

SmRushanRiaz: Watch "Naam Shabana"... very strong performance by @taapsee

RohatgiAayush: Hi friends Naam shabana movie is very good movie....akshah and baby girl role is good

rameshdaswani: #Naam Shabana - a movie with a class apart ! A must watch for some good action !

RajuJoker: Thank you and Congratulations...for giving superb movie...We love you and your Baby, Pink and Naam Shab…

rajeshkovil: Just watched "Naam Shabana", 1 of the best spy thriller made. @tapseepannu is amazing. This is her best performance 2 date..better thn Pink

ouchh_potato: Naam shabana is fabulous ! Came to watch it again ^_^

mano_soham: Congratulations @akshaykumar & @taapsee for the excellent power pack performance in Naam Shabana. Excellent movie, very well executed.


jayc_69: Just saw naam shabana , amazing movie but i cant get over @taapsee ki eyebrows

EppavumNaanRaja: Incredible cast, incredible story. Book #NaamShabana tickets now: taapsee BajpayeeManoj…

BOCIndia: Movie Review: #NaamShabana is a Conventional Thriller with Commendable Performances of all actors. [3/5 Stars]

pavanvoice: Naam shabana could have been better's off at times ..tapsee was good but the best is manoj b who steals the show ..overall it was ok

ChamathDanuja: Today I watched naam shabana..Can't say it's bad.. film is OK.. but not so good. @taapsee

Riskiest_Poison: "Naam shabana" is "Naam pakana" before interval.

newsbuckets: Naam Shabana……Halfhearted!

giveawaysprout: Naam Shabana had so much of forceful mood changing background score in the first half I think I died from choking on it

FShirin: "Naam Shabana' is a 'dabba',Total formula action-adventure! Waste of good talent like Manoj Bajpai & Anupam Kher who had no role to perform.

djakhiltalreja: Naam Shabana what an average movie! Same old style is getting monotonous! Lose

boogerworm: Have been dragged for Naam Shabana. Hating it.

BhopaliLad: Naam Shabana is atrocious. Completely needless 'spin-off'.. Stay away from it!

ashwinskumar: Naam Shabana: A little underwhelming, definitely not up to the #Baby standard. Taapsee was good, but Prithviraj was sadly disappointing :(

3 readers - 2 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by priya

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Sonia

So-So, by Fan

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

A woman is chosen to be a field agent in a covert operation.

What Worked

  • Some of the details – a cop placing money for a restaurant bill on the table before running after a villain; Shabana regularly tugging her backpack straps in a chase sequence.
  • I found it interesting that without any background, in the first scene itself the audience is subtly shown who the good guys are. This is by things like having them say “Jai Hind”. I realised there is no real reason for me to think of the chasers as the good guys and the one being chased as the villain and not the other way around.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • Product placement like Toyota and Pepsi.
  • A character is taken from an accident spot to an empty room in a hospital? Another example of over-direction.
  • Shabana doesn't even question what the purpose of her mission is? She blindly believes?
  • Nothing special about the training montage

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):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Naam Shabana - Cast, crew, links

Lead Cast:
Background Score:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
150 minutes

Comments (3)

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

The film’s direction is excellent and especially the place and activity aspect is remarkable. Dialogues are also excellent. The first half consumes the character and her really love, Jai is the main focus. It is only post-intermission, especially the last 35 minutes in which procedures pick up. The story looks quite foreseeable.


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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