Friday, 23 January 2015

BABY :: Movie Review

Baby is unarguably one of the finest, riveting, taut, espionage thrillers to have hit Indian screens which not only provides edge of the seat excitement but also maintains that feeling of adrenaline rush all through its run time which is the pre requisite of any good thriller. It's seldom that Bollywood has been able to hit the right chords with its espionage thrillers with most of them either being laden with over the top melodrama or too many jingoistic statements in a potboiler script. But, Kudos to Neeraj Pandey for making 'Baby' which is a fast paced, well written movie with earnest performances that never wavers from its subject. Even if it doesn't always keep you in suspense, it doesn't let you wander too far. Pandey seems to have to taken inspiration from Hollywood espionage flicks most notably Ben Affleck's 'Argo', but adapts the genre to the Indian context, adding the right touch of patriotism and secularism to make it palatable, but never cloying. The movie has been extensively shot across the locations of India, Nepal, Turkey & Middle East giving Pandey a lavish scale to film on and he has made full use of that. The movie takes several references to the recent incidents that have made news on International front like 26/11 and the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad giving it a realistic touch. This is the fimmaking style of Neeraj Pandey who mixes Bollywood formula with his slick execution and adds some social commentary unto it making it look realistic. His films don't have clueless characters just for the heck of it and so in 'Baby', you won't see commandos talking on walkie-talkies but realistic depiction of police work. Baby is another perfectly balanced action thriller - a seemingly intelligent movie that provides you with ample dosage of entertainment which is worth your ticket's money. Despite, it being a mainstream film he has kept the movie devoid of songs, item numbers and has just stuck to the basics by maintaining the momentum of the movie through its well etched characters. It's quite refreshing to see a film that tackles an extremely sensitive subject of terrorism filtering from Pakistan with absolutely no prejudgment and more importantly, without glossing over certain uncomfortable truths. If one wants to know the real meaning of selflessness, than one should meet someone who is serving in intelligence bureau or secret service agencies. When someone is ready to sacrifice his own life for the sake of millions of others, it is selflessness personified. Neeraj Pandey's 'Baby' is yet another attempt to show the people of our country, what these men do out there in severe conditions, forgetting their loved ones. It was nerve wrecking to know that these are operations that are held at anonymous levels, and in case the agents are caught, their country wouldn't take responsibility of them. In fact, they would deny knowing them too. Despite of knowing about these consequences, these brave citizens still join the forces only so that the rest of the country sleeps peacefully. These brave ones indulge in several covert operations and in case they are killed during these operations, they die as "Unsung Heroes". The movie has been released on 23 January which is 118th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who is known as " The Unsung Hero". 

STORY & SCREENPLAY                                                    ::                       The story as well as screenplay of Baby has been penned down by Neeraj Pandey. And, due credit must be given to him as the real hero of Baby apart from Akshhay Kumar is its exceptionally well written screenplay and proficiently etched out characters. The screenplay of the movie has several layers attached to it with lot of thriller elements and surprises thrown in at several junctures that work superbly in favor of this must watch flick. Undeniably, Baby reflects well researched writing giving it an authentic and realistic feel. As the story briskly moves through various locales from Mumbai to Nepal and Istanbul to Saudi Arabia, various characters are introduced. But the best part is that is that none of them hovers around for a long duration just because a star or recognizable face is playing that character. In short, characters play their part briefly and than they quietly skip away. Actors filter in only where required and they are not repeated just because it makes a commercial sense from a typical Bollywood perspective. Tapsee Pannu is part of one operation and Anupam Kher joins the team for the scorching climax shot in Abu Dhabi. Another highlight of the movie is its dialogues that are breezy, hard hitting and as believable as the characters who mouth them. Like Akshay's interrogation sequence with Jameel Khan where he clearly explains the difference between Religion and Nationality. Jameel says that he writes MUSLIM in all the government form columns and is proud of being a Muslim. Akshay tells him that when riots broke out in Gujarat, he was posted there itself and how he saved a Muslim family from the crutches of an enraged communal mob n he proudly writes INDIAN in all the columns. Kay Kay Menon says to his lawyer that he has heard that Kasab was provided with an AC room & he is even more dreadful, so he too deserves one.  The movie begins with grave and grim voice over by Danny Denzongpa who plays Feroz Ali Khan, the chief of a secret-undercover-counter-intelligence-anti-terrorist unit named Baby. Feroze tells us that Baby has been the most successful force against Pakistan based terrorism, and sine 2008, has dismantled several terrorist attacks in India. The film chronicles Baby's final mission, starring Akshay Kumar as Ajay who's hunting down Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon), an escaped terrorist. Ajay's hunt for Bilal takes him through seedy streets of Mumbai, the bylanes of Turkey, the mountains of Nepal and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia. Also in the mix is a nutty, India bashing, hate spewing Mullah Maulana Mohammad (Rasheed Naz). While Rasheed Naz appears to be a super powerful terrorist, Akshay Kumar along with his 'Baby' team comprising Jai Singh Rathore (Rana Daggubati), Priya Suryavanshi (Tapsee Pannu), Om Prakash Shukla (Anupam Kher) and others thrive to eradicate terrorism once and for all. Whether Akshay Kumar along with his 'Baby' team is able to stand strong against the mighty evils or terrorism wins is the plot of Baby.        

STARCAST                                                                   ::                I would like to applaud Vicky Sidana, casting director of this movie for choosing the appropriate actors as per their characterizations. Each and every actor, however small his part might have been, has been able to leave an impact while portraying the character on-screen. Although, it won't be wrong to say that Baby belongs to Akshay Kumar. As Ajay, Akshay Kumar has delivered the finest performance of his career till date. From his dialogue delivery to his body language, he is spot on. Even while handling the emotional sequences with his family, Akshay lives the character of Ajay. His performance is a tribute to many unsung heroes of the country who have sacrificed their lives while working on undercover operations. Khiladi Kumar is exceptionally well during action sequences too. Danny Denzongpa is cast to perfection and delivers a mature performance. Watch him in the scene where he tells the minister that we do not do enough for those who sacrifice their lives for the country. He is a picture of precision in giving the right expressions. Anupam Kher as ShuklaJi appears towards the last 40 minutes of the film and brings a smile to your face as soon as he appears on-screen. His bickering with Akshay are a treat to watch. Tapsee Pannu plays Priya Suryavanshi to pitch perfection and leaves a marking impression in her short cameo. Watch her fight sequence with Sushant Singh where she overpowers him. Not one frame in the entire fight looks exaggerated. Rasheed Naz as Maulana is the find of the film. His character, body language, dialect establishes the fact that there could have been no better villain for Baby, than him. Kay Kay Menon as Bilal Khan gets less screen time but his performance reinstates that great performances are all about quality rather than length of the role. He delivers more with his dead pan expressions and hazel eyes rather than words. Rana Daggubati has perfectly fitted the bill as the brawn man "Jai Singh Rathore" and delivered an apt performance. Sushant Singh has simply excelled in the character of Waseem Khan and brings humor in the least expected situation. Jameel Khan is truly impressive as Taufeeq and his interrogation scene with Akshay will draw many a claps from the audience. Madhurima Tuli as Akshay's wife and Mikaal Zulfikaar as Ashfaq have portrayed their respective characters effectively. Karan Gupta in his brief appearance as Jamal leaves a lasting impression.  

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                       ::                  The soundtrack of the movie has been composed by Meet Bros Anjjan which comprises of just two tracks. One short song comes during middle of the movie n the other is reserved for the end credits. The background music of the movie has been composed by Sanjoy Chowdhry who has done a good job out of it. The tempo of the music is high and goes in tandem with the on-screen proceedings. The cinematographer of the movie is Sudeep Chatterjee who has done a brilliant job as Baby is definitely one of the best shot and visually appealing films in recent times. The movie has been shot across Kathmandu, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, hence providing him a bigger canvas to showcase his skills. His lens has captured every location beautifully and every sequence is captured with such grandeur and scale that it enlightens the experience of watching a high adrenaline film. Some of the aerial shots that seem to have been taken via usage of drone camera are a treat to watch. Lot of scenes have been shot on live locations like busy streets to keep the authenticity of the script intact. I would also like to applaud the work of Cyril Raffaelli & Abbas Ali Moghul who are the action directors of this movie for they have orchestrated, not only the best of raw action but some death defying stunts too in Baby. Apart from Khiladi Kumar's stunts, one fight scene between Tapsee Pannu n Sushant Singh has been very well orchestrated. The editor of the movie is Shree Narayan Singh who has kept the run-time of the movie to 150 minutes. His editing is racy, taut and never provides for a dull moment throughout the movie. As a director, Neeraj Pandey has once again proved that he is master of his craft. The best part about his directorial skills is that he gets straight to the point right from the word go and manages to entertain the audience without adding any extra frivolous elements or so called Masala in his movies. Neeraj is able to extract the best from his cast n crew, hence making his movies a delightful cinematic experience in all contexts.

CONCLUSION                                                                            ::           Baby keeps you glued to your seats with its thriller quotient and is a must watch. Don't miss this one !! 

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