Cast: Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Rana Daggubati, Anupam Kher, Kay Kay Menon, Taapsee Pannu
Direction: Neeraj Pandey
This is how an espionage tale should be told.
While ‘Baby’ is a long film (2 hours 40 minutes), the director seems to wield his craft with admirable restraint. He has weaved an engaging tale that rarely loosens its grip on the viewer.
A taut script has always been Neeraj Pandey’s forte and ‘Baby’ doesn’t waste time sermonizing: neither trying to wage an all-encompassing debate on global terrorism, nor painting all Muslims with the same brush. The perpetrators of terror are the villains here and the community they belong to is just...coincidental.
After a perceived threat to national security, intelligence provides substantiated evidence to prove that Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) has been delegated the responsibility to execute acts of terror. Team ‘Baby’ (Akshay Kumar, Rana Daggubatti, Anupam Kher and Taapsee Pannu) has an operation and the plot unravels with a goal-oriented approach.
Mercifully, there are no narrative jolts to accommodate a romantic track, nor the mindless insertion of a raunchy, diversionary belly dance.
Neeraj Pandey does a commendable job with casting – each member of his ensemble fits into the plot like a cog in the wheel. The lengths of their onscreen presences are inconsequential, what counts is how much of an impact they make in their parts. Whether it is Anupam Kher, Taapsee Pannu or Sushant Singh, the appearances remain memorable.
It is heartening to see Khiladi Kumar deliver an ace in an author-backed role such as this one. For too long now, we have seen Akshay in one mindless comedy after another. Here, his dialoguebaazi is toned down and even the action sequences reflect the actor’s meticulous approach - the punches are measured and you can see him apply some genuine technique, instead of just engaging in Bollywood-style dhishum-dishum.
For once it seems that the actor has approached his role with all sincerity; he reminded me of the matter-of-fact Akshay we had seen in the psychological thriller ‘Sangharsh’ (1999), directed by Tanuja Chandra.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography deserves a special mention - the close-ups, the aerial shots all add up to keep the pace tense.
‘Baby’ makes for an engrossing watch because the filmmakers are not interested in making a social commentary. The film deals with a definite conflict, backs it up with a coherent plot trajectory and delivers a compelling resolution. Yes, there are some excesses and cinematic liberties taken, but considering that ‘Baby’ delivers on its promise of entertaining, I am not complaining.
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