Naam Shabana

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Naam Shabana
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“NAAM SHABANA” is a bog-standard action flick!

An origin story of one of the characters of team BABY (the 2015 Akshay Kumar starrer) NAAM SHABANA is too long, predictable and not special in any way. Lacking intelligence and the element of surprise, this 150-minute long actioner merely qualifies as a decent pastime for your absolutely free time this weekend.

NAAM SHABANA traces the genesis of Shabana and the journey of how she became a part of team BABY. A simple girl, born and brought up in Mumbai, Shabana (Tapsee Pannu) has her focus set on doing well in college and being a Martial Arts champ. She's fierce and quiet which is the result of her disturbed past. However, her stable life gets a sudden jolt when she loses someone very close to her. Right then, the very purpose of her life changes and this incident somehow also connects her to the intelligence agency.

The main problems with NAAM SHABANA are its snail pace, tiring length and a stock script. Screenplay Writer Neeraj Pandey tries to package the film as an authentic looking prequel just like the origin stories we see in Hollywood. Sadly, his treatment of the subject is too B-grade to even qualify as a comparison to them. The characters are trite, the action is devoid of any excitement and the twists in the tale are evident much before they actually happen. Pseudo intelligent thrillers in Bollywood have been rampant, as time and again we’ve tried to copy the Bond/Bourne genre, albeit unsuccessfully. Director Shivam Nair has nothing new to offer. His depiction of the subject is reminiscent of the thrillers we’ve seen in the 90’s and even the action sequences are extremely banal.

The film’s pace is another deterrent. The first 80 minutes, till the intermission, are devoted purely to one personal incident in the life of Shabana. Her pain and revenge, which could’ve been a matter of a crisp 40-50 minutes in the story, is stretched way beyond the essential. It tests your patience right through. Even after the interval there is no relief. The intelligence agency steps in to train the bright novice, and within a few days sends her alone on supposedly the most important intelligence mission in the world. It’s plot holes like these that ruin the consistency of a very potent idea. An origin story of the girl who’s exciting cameo in BABY was the highlight of that film, could’ve been really special in more deft hands. It clearly is a case of an opportunity missed. The songs are terrible and they pop up when you least expect them.

Of the actors, it obviously is a Tapsee Pannu show all through. While never mind-blowing with her performance, she’s very convincing all through. Her fight sequences are impressive and her persona does full justice to the character. How I wish the character was written more proficiently. Akshay Kumar in a cameo just lights up the screen in the several small bouts that he appears in during the film. However, it makes little sense to send him as a support to the principal character of the film who’s been chosen for this very important mission. Prithviraj Sukumaran appears in a negative role and does well. All others are passable.

In all, NAAM SHABANA is watchable, but be prepared for a slow narration that runs for two and a half hours. It is passable entertainment that isn’t bad, but not great either. Watch it at your convenience, and not by sparing time specially for it.

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