?Baby? Review: Two-minute, instant nationalism!
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 23 January 2015
Akshay Kumar, Taapsee Pannu, Rana Daggubati, Anupam Kher, Kay Kay Menon, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tulli
There?s no easy way to write about this film, as it operates on two levels. On a superficial level, the film is a reasonably engaging thriller, but with its share of unintentionally comical moments and gaffes. On the other hand, its fundamentals and politics make you squirm.
We meet an elite crack team called Baby headed by Danny Denzongpa?s Firoze. His right-hand is Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) an officer described as someone whose mind is filled with ?desh and deshbhakti?. The film even glorifies the fact that he leaves his wife alone for the most part and is so busy saving India, he doesn?t even have time to attend his kid?s birthday party. Sigh.
Now who are the enemies this team is going to weed out? Why, it?s evil terrorists of course? the kind that blindly follow bearded clerics and say ?bismillah? when someone thinks up of a new way to blow-up a busy mall. Interestingly, in one scene they show the leader of the terrorist organization, a bearded cleric, giving anti-America and anti-India speeches with blazing fire reflected in his eyes (shown in close-up). Yup, subtlety is not the film?s strongest suit.
In one scene, a terrorist says something to this effect, ?When we fill out forms, we write our religion in capital letters?. To which our hero retorts, after trying to asphyxiate him, ?When we fill out forms, we write our religion as INDIAN.?
Oh dear?this fast-food version of nationalism is more harmful than healthy. And very convenient for filmmakers to play with for instant gratification!
Admittedly, the second half has you more involved. That?s when things really pick up. Finally, it?s down to a group of three to execute the final assignment. The three are shown to us in their respective hotel rooms: the thinker (Akshay Kumar, pensively staring out of the window), the bald, experienced guy (Anupam Kher, taking off his wig), and the four-hours-in-a-gym guy (Rana Daggubati doing pull-ups in the room).
For action, you have bloodied faces shown in close-ups, gratuitous violence with Ajay often being the perpetrator, and Bollywood-style chases down Turkey?s lovely roads leading to a filmi fight in full public view.
The film?s relentless background score (I kid you not, there is not a MOMENT of silence), is as unsubtle as the film.
By the way, this is one of the few films that completely divided the audience in the theatre. There was one section that completely bought into the film, and laughed where the director intended (a recurring gag with the Prime Minister?s secretary).
Another section appreciated the film?s gripping portions, but was appalled at the film?s excessive use of violence and ambiguous politics. For this section, it was the unintentional bits that were comical. Like the clueless prime minister who keeps saying, ?Plan kya hai?? and ?I can?t sanction this?.
And goofs like an effortless escape by a dreaded terrorist in the middle of Mumbai with (shockingly) zero traffic. Akshay Kumar trying to look ?discreet? wearing spiffy clothes, sunglasses and posing in the most conspicuous manner. And then you have a highly ?secretive? meeting with the terrorists and some Arabs, held openly inside a plush hotel, with glass windows, easily spied on by our sleuthing team.
Akshay Kumar is dependably sincere in the role, but brings nothing new to the performance. In any case, he has played roles like this too many times already. The peripheral supporting cast does well.
One enjoyed Neeraj Pandey?s last film (Special 26) a lot more, as it was free from the weight of insinuating politics and focused purely on the heist. Our country has enough of muddled, fear-based religious politics, and one wished films stopped using them to make ?action thrillers?.
The film is full of improbable developments, convenient cinematic license and absurd portions. The only redeeming features are the ensemble cast, a few engaging action portions and a fast-paced second half.
Rating: Two and a half stars