Cast:Akshay Kumar, Rana Daggubati, Anupam Kher, Taapsee Pannu, Madhurima, Danny Denzongpa
Director: Neeraj Pandey
There were quite a few expectations from this film mainly because director Neeraj Pandey had already distinguished his creativity with ‘A Wednesday’ and ‘Special 26.’ His latest, and laziest, unfortunately, fails to live up to his earlier highs.
Written and Directed by Neeraj Pandey, ‘Baby’ is too much procedure, verbally explanatory plotting, with a hyper-ventilating background score but minus thrills or excitement. It deals with a similar kind of story as ‘D-Day’ and as expected turns-up the volume to install ‘fake’ patriotic fervour. The attempt to recreate Hollywoodian aplomb also fails to pass muster.
Firoze Ali Khan (Danny) heads a temporary special Ops wing codenamed ‘Baby. ’ Very much Hollywood, one would say. Yes, and why not? These special ops personnel have a task to perform for the government and country but they are never acknowledged publicly. They are supposedly anonymous, supremely fit, able bodied, specially trained youngsters who put their lives at risk for the country.
‘Baby’ starts off ambitious but eventually the many liberties taken, make the effort seem a trifle half-hearted. There’s a little too much appeasement and deliberate attempts to balance the sub-text in order that the involved communities do not feel slighted. Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) is the anointed leader of ‘Baby.’ He is ruthless when his country is at risk.
In one scene he is shown shooting one of his own team-mates who falls prey to enemy torture and in another he is shown putting the mission at possible risk by his on-job improvisations which one of his team members Shuklaji (Anupam Kher) finds untenable.
Ajay is obviously the quintessential hero who can do no wrong. So in that sense the film sticks to tried and tested tropes. Then there are those conspicuous attempts to make him seem impartial and overly patriotic – he tells ISI agent Taufeek (Mujeeb Khan) how he defended a Muslim family during the Gujarat riots and why his religion is ‘Indian.’ He is also shown fobbing off his wife’s constant queries as to his on-job risks. It’s all part of the pre-planned faceless-heroics routine that Pandey assembles together as a tribute to Indian heroes who can never be acknowledged, officially.
The first in a series of special ops’ engagements in Turkey leads Ajay and team mate Jai (Daggubati) to unravel further info regarding a plot to set up a series of blasts all across the nation , beginning with the one at a Delhi mall, which they foil just in the-nick-of-time. Then Ajay is shown to be going on another related mission with a set of different officers and loses them all in an impromptu blast.
Ajay then goes off to Nepal with Priya (Taapsee Pannu) to apprehend a terrorist logistics planner and thereafter to Al Dera, Saudi in hot pursuit of escapee Bilal (Kay Kay Menon). That’s when they get their prized catch, Maulana, whom they now have to secret out of Saudi (despite the eagle eyes of a hot-shot local detective), in order to stand him up for justice in India.
The narrative is a little too long in the tooth, much of it concerned with procedural detailing, patriotic asides and plenty of verbal grandstanding. The screenplay lacks cinematic vision with much of the drama being plotted with verbal exchanges, chases and a whole lot of travel shots without enough exciting or tangible action events to add thrills. The unnecessary stress on pithy verbal exchanges and juvenile comments also makes the narrative seem a little too casual and veers precariously towards the unexciting.
The narrative appears long-drawn and without much purchase. Performances are efficient enough but there’s no chill factor here. Sudip Chatterjee’s cinematography is competent. The music is also a little too overdone, trying too hard to over compensate for a severe lacunae in narration. With ‘Baby’ Neeraj Pandey has taken his ambition to a place where cinematic smarts and action excitement are shunted in favor of fan-boy mechanics. His attempt to create something equal to a hot-shot Hollywood espionage thriller, comes unstuck big-time mainly because there’s really not much thought going into this progeny!