At the very outset, let’s acknowledge that ‘Naam Shabana’ is not what we expected. At all. It is a rather silly movie which falls short of expectations. Way short.
It is not the gripping saga of one woman’s fight against the world and its wrongs, or even her fight for her country. It is, in fact, a rather piss-ant tale of a woman who doesn’t know which battles to pick. And like any “out of control” woman she ends up being the reason why people around her keep dropping like flies. She’s like Jean Grey in her Phoenix avatar — powerful but a danger to herself and others simply because she’s a woman.
‘Naam Shabana’ is a huge letdown. Manoj Bajpayee is wasted in the film. Taapsee is forgettable at best, and downright infuriatingly stupid at worst.
What Shabana seems to need is a rather intensive course of anger management, not instant recruitment to the NSA!
‘Naam Shabana’ seems to glorify lawlessness. Shabana is noticed by the secret organization only after she smacks her abusive father to death and is remanded to juvie. This secret organization reaches out to her only after her almost-boyfriend gets his skull cracked open by a bunch of rich brats that she picks a fight with. The Bolly NSA then lets her exact revenge upon said brats, in an attempt to win her over to their side. Wah!
The movie also keeps reiterating the misguided Bollywood notion that a woman can do anything only if a man keeps crawling out of the shadows to help her. Enter Akshay Kumar — who is the agency’s best, but not good enough to take on the biggest baddie of all. For that they need the expendable, out-of-control, Shabana.
For some reason, the makers of this film also seem hell-bent on reminding you that Shabana is a Muslim. Hmm. Let’s see! Her name is Shabana, she walks around with burqa-clad women, and one can see the minarets of a very green mosque from her balcony. Still, not wanting to take any chances about her identity, they actually say, in so many words, that her religious background will be an asset to the agency. Okay! Message received!
But it’s a confusing message, really. Are they saying a non-Muslim agent wouldn’t be able to do the same job? Or is it some sort of sadistic enterprise which gets off on watching a Muslim woman beat the crap out of other, presumably Muslim, “terrorists”? What does her religion have to do with anything?!!
Moving on to the action sequences in the film. Any one of the following words can be used to describe them — Barf/Yuck/Eurgh. Take your pick! They are the worst, most ridiculously shot action scenes of all time. In fact, they’re so badly executed, it’s laughable.
One thing is clear, Taapsee Pannu is no Lara Croft. Hell, she ain’t even one of Charlie’s Angels from 40 years ago! All she is, more and more, is like a two dimensional paper cutout, instead of the courageous “heroine” who will herald a brave new world for Hindi cinema.
One is forced to admire the likes of Silk Smitha and Mandakini. At least they weren’t pretending to be something they weren’t. Which is more than can be said for Taapsee. She’s pretending to be something she so obviously isn’t — a different, more evolved kind of heroine, who is strong enough to fight her battles. She failed at said representation in ‘Pink’, and she fails again in ‘Naam Shabana’. What a pity!
All in all, ‘Naam Shabana’ is the kind of movie that reaffirms ones belief in the fact that Bollywood is still eons away from making good movies with a woman playing the lead. All it can do, for now, is churn out glitzy crap that reminds us, over and over, that every shiny thing isn’t gold, never mind how well it may be packaged!