Stars – 4.5
Rarely you come across an Indian movie that doesn’t hit a single false note. BABY is one such film. Writer-Director Neeraj Pandey has made a brilliant film that is not only technically at par with the best in the world, but it’s also a dispassionate non-judgmental take on terrorism that’s completely devoid of jingoism and is extremely gripping. Full marks to Producer Bhushan Kumar for believing in such a landmark film, backed by exceptional marketing especially when it’s devoid of songs.
Firoze Ali Khan (Danny) heads a special operations wing of commandoes called Baby. In a conversation with a senior minister in the beginning of the film, he states that the Government ought to win the confidence of the Muslim community in India, for Pakistan is taking advantage of the community’s sense of alienation within India. In another scene Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) tells an ISI agent Taufeeq (Mujeeb Khan) how he defended a Muslim family during the Gujarat riots and why he puts ‘Indian’ in the Religion bracket in all forms that he fills. Somehow this sets the tone for the film that terrorists don’t have a religion and no particular community ought to be associated with terrorism.
The screenplay is the hero of BABY. It flows lucidly, taking you on an engrossing journey of thrills, intrigue and surprises. Dialogues are peppered with bullets of dry humor that keep you entertained throughout. The verbal-expletive-laden warfare between Shuklaji (Anupam Kher) and Ajay is a case in point in this regard. Or when Ajay matter-of-factly tells Priya (Taapsee) as they’re on the flight to Kathmandu to “stop being my wife” when she informs him about his snoring. The precarious uncertainty in the life of an Officer involved in covert operations has been portrayed in a subtle but telling manner. Ajay’s wife (MadhurimaTuli) isn’t aware of her husband’s job profile but does tell him now and then, “Bas marna mat.” The scene where Ajay slaps the personal assistant of a minister (on his frivolous remark on the death of his colleagues) will result in an applause from the audience in the theaters.
The narrative of BABY flows like a well-made Hollywood film. Actors filter in only where required and they’re not repeated just because it makes a commercial sense from a typical Bollywood perspective. Taapsee is part of one operation. Anupam Kher and Rana Dagubatti join the team in the scorching climax sequence shot in Abu Dhabi. Sudeep Chatterji’s cinematography deserves a special mention. He has done an exceptional job especially in the chase sequences in Istanbul and the desert escapades in Abu Dhabi.
Akshay Kumar has done an incredibly good job in BABY. He’s razor sharp and there’s never a dull moment whenever he’s on screen. In a scene in an Airport washroom when he bandages himself despite excruciating pain is superbly done. He’s exceptional during all his action scenes as well. The entire supporting cast is excellent. Danny is a picture of precision in giving the right expressions. He doesn’t bullshit nor lets anyone else do the same. Anupam Kher weaves in magic in a cameo. He’s entertaining and he gets the job done. Kay Kay as the dreaded terrorist Bilal makes his striking presence felt. Sushant Singh is effective in bringing in humour in a least expected situation. Rana Dagubatti as the tough officer Jai is competent. Taapsee is a sharp Commando. She shall be proud of this film. Rasheed Naaz as Maulana Mohammad Rahman has an interesting appearance and an even more interesting way of dialogue delivery. Mikal Zulfiqar, another Pakistani actor makes his presence felt in a cameo.
Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background score is the heartbeat of BABY as it instills the necessary emotions at opportune moments in the course of the narrative. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is exceptional. Even though the duration of the film is over two and a half hours, the taut pace keeps you hooked. The last 45 minutes of the film are simply extraordinary and fast paced.
On the whole, BABY is one of the finest films ever made in the history of Indian cinema. Not only because of its excellent cinematic credentials but also because of the balanced ‘Thought’ behind the film. Neeraj Pandey once again proves that he’s a genius. This time he proves, it’s possible to better Perfection. We say, hey baby, don’t think, just go for BABY. Cinema at its very best!
By Taran Adarsh