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Naam Shabana Review: This Slow, No-Thrill Movie Falls Flat on Expectations

Naam Shabana is the story of a female agent Shabana and how she came to be one. When Shabana’s boyfriend, Jai is killed, she is contacted by an agency which helps her to track the man responsible and take her revenge. Later, she is offered to join the agency’s training program, where she is trained to become a spy. When one of the biggest arms dealers of the world, Tony, is spotted in Malaysia, the agency sends Shabana with a team to kill Tony. Will she be successful?


Naam Shabana is less of a prequel and more of a spin-off of the 2015 movie, Baby, where Taapsee Pannu played the role of an agent. Taapsee Pannu’s brief role in Baby as Agent Shabana landed her this movie. Taapsee trained in mixed martial arts, aikido and krav maga to prepare for the role. In Baby, Akshay Kumar played the lead while Taapsee Pannu had an extended cameo, whereas, in Naam Shabana, it is Taapsee who plays the lead and Akshay has an extended cameo.

Naam Shabana

What To Anticipate:

Naam Shabana rode high on expectations since it came as a prequel to Baby where it shows the backstory of one of its agents, Shabana. We expected a lot of spy stuff, some witty one-liners, crazy yet believable action sequences – all wrapped in a beautiful thrilling background music. But, Naam Shabana did nothing of all that.

That first half is so well dragged that one could almost miss it, something which could have been easily summed up in 20 minutes. Every spy movie relies on the adrenaline-high thrill of surprising the audience, but you won’t find any in Naam Shabana. The story, coming from the hands of Neeraj Pandey, responsible for Baby, is way too morose and slow. Naam Shabana lacks the thrill of the chase and the edge of the seat excitement. The movie does try to rise in moments where Taapsee gets to throw a punch, but it looks way too scripted, especially when towards the end of it all, we have Akshay as Ajay, tugging Shabana to safety. But seriously, what was with all that arm-tugging, even at places where it was absolutely not required?

What seems confusing is the motivation behind Shabana’s recruitment into the agency. I mean, maybe the idea of nationalism runs old, but it could never replace revenge, even though it does so in the movie. Baby was realistically appealing, but the ink of revenge runs dry soon and the whole backstory given to Shabana doesn’t carry even a spark of nationalism. It’s somehow the malleability in Shabana’s character-development that Akshay Kumar shows up like a big brother everywhere. Taapsee fails to hold your attention throughout the first half with her backstory. You only find her worthy where she gets to deliver a punch or so.

Naam Shabana

The reasons and arguments that the movie throws in your face like, “Females are born with an extra strain in their DNA. Mardon ko gadgets ki zaroorat padti hai, auratein pre-configured aati hai,” and “Aaj kal ke jo haalat hai, us mein tumhare religion ki vajah se humara access badhta hai aur raaste khulte hai” make little sense and don’t prove a point. While trying to make a women-centric movie, by trying to give a lot in to the hands of a female lead, the movie does nothing but stereotype things again.

Not to forget the really bad background music of the movie, it will kill whatever interest you could take. Also, it’s a wonder why they had to put songs in between like they couldn’t resist making a typical Bollywood masala. It’s the scenes where Akshay, Taapsee, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpayee come together, where you do some Paisa-Vasool. Naam Shabana tries to be another Baby, but comes nowhere close to it.


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