Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Taapsee Punnu, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Rana Daggubati, Kaykay Menon
Who in the right frame of mind would name a spy thriller- Baby? Well, Neeraj Pandey does that and since his past films are A Wednesday and Special 26, (Both extremely watchable intelligent flicks!), I decide to watch it. Some mainstream reviewers dampen my enthusiasm with their below passing average ratings. But still I go ahead. Recent films such as Ek Tha Tiger, Agent Vinod, D-Day, Madras Café, Holiday and Bang Bang have shown that Bollywood spy thrillers have come a long way from the 60s-70s fares like Aankhen, Farz and Yakeen; at least in terms of polished presentation if not content. So where does Baby rank amongst these?
What’s the plot?
A secret Indian spy unit, codenamed Baby, gets wind of an international terrorist plot targeting country’s major cities. A fanatic cleric operating from Pakistan, a dreaded terrorist, who has escaped from an Indian jail and a gangster operating in the garb of a social worker, are the main perpetrators. The special unit chief (Danny Denzongpa) assigns the case to his best man (Akshay Kumar), a cool daredevil patriot who will do anything in the line of duty. During the course of the investigation, the team finds that to foil the terror plot they may have to indulge in covert operations in foreign countries. How will they do it?
· Slick film with realistic racy plot, interesting situations, great action, hard-hitting sociopolitical commentary and top notch production values.
· Plenty of intrigue in climax.
· Subtle situational humour.
· Akshay Kumar is fantastic as a tough spy-cum-commando, who speaks less and smiles even lesser. It is one of his best portrayals.
· Supporting cast perfectly fits the bill. Rasheed Naz playing the cleric fanning terrorism ileaves his mark.
· Hero’s family and romantic angle sticks out like a sore thumb. Wife repeatedly calling her spy husband in the midst of his covert operations and telling him ‘Marna Nahi’…..now why did the director want such needless melodrama in such a taut no-non-sense thriller? Luckily these awkward moments are few and far between.
· Editing could have been tighter. The sole song could have easily been chopped and the second half proceedings could have been hastened a bit.
Forget those mainstream reviewers, who have been panning the film as ordinary and unintelligent. Baby is an absorbing film, which is unapologetic in its anti-terrorism narrative and keeps you on the edge of the seat throughout. If only the director had given a short shrift to the convention of showing the family and romance, it would have been almost perfect. But even with some minor blips along the way, for me, Neeraj Pandey’s Baby is fit to be called the best spy thriller in Hindi cinema till date. Go watch it!