wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)
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.Read more
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.
- 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
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 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, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : ...here 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
Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...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 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, 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 Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...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
thebhokalibong: Thoroughly enjoyed Naam Shabana.
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 !
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.
JayshreeLiao: WATCHED NAAM SHABANA....WOW....I GET IMPRESSED WHEN I SEE STRONG IMAGE OF WOMAN...GIRLS.....IN MOVIES.....STRONG MESSAGE
jayc_69: Just saw naam shabana , amazing movie but i cant get over @taapsee ki eyebrows
pavanvoice: Naam shabana could have been better ...it'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.
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 :(
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
A woman is chosen to be a field agent in a covert operation.