Synopsis – The country is perpetually under threat from terrorist powers and the common man walks unaware of the threats and the attacks that our Government controls and prevents. While the common Indian fights for everyday issues, there are deeper and bigger threats to him and his family that he will never know exist because it is the men and women in uniform that safeguard them. The men and women who put country before self, the men and women who define our history because they give a damn! Ajay is one such officer who is part of an elite team chosen from amongst the best in the Forces to form a covert Counter Intelligence Unit. In the course of foiling one terrorist attack bid, Ajay discovers a major threat to our nation – a plan to cause damage and strike fear at the heart of our very existence. The plot is masterminded by a maniacal leader whose organization has its tentacles spread across the world. As days progress, the unit goes through escalating challenges with time ticking against them and risks escalating. At all points, the members of the unit give it all they’ve got and stand tall to guard us with all their strength so that we may sleep safe in our homes. Covert and courageous operations are performed across Kathmandu, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Delhi and Mumbai as our protectors will not rest till evil is debated. Will the maniacal Maulana Rehman and his band of evil succeed in striking terror in the heart of India? Will the Indian Government change gears from being reactive to proactive and strike? Will Ajay and his unit be able to prevent this terror tsunami?
My Take – Till date, Bollywood has not been much successful in the crime/espionage/action thrillers genre (Except for 2013’s Madras Cafe). It’s either too much emotion, too many jingoistic statements or too many holes in the script or out of no where the “so called” Agent bursts into a dance (Remember Ek Tha Tiger?). After brilliantly made films like A Wednesday (2008) & Special 26 (2013), director Neeraj Pandey provides us his raw & at times epic take on the genre, & guess what! He nails it! The story follows an Indian undercover unit formed to crush any acts of terrorism, headed by Feroze Ali Khan (Danny Denzongpa). Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) is Feroze’s most trusted counter intelligence agent and the unit is expected to thwart terrorism in five years. The team also includes Priya (Taapsee Pannu) & Jai (Rana Daggubati). The mastermind of a terrorist group, Maulana Mohammed Rahman (Pakistani actor Rasheed Naz), is sitting cozy in a border area and easily manages to brainwash the youth into spreading terror along with the help of IM head Bilal (Kay Kay Menon).
On receiving Intel about an upcoming terrorist attack, Ajay with his team begin their mission round the globe to hunt down all possible threats to the country. Director Neeraj Pandey references several real-life incidents, such as the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and adds enough touches to make much of the story seem realistic. Along the way, he clears stereotypes of some communities, but thankfully, chooses not to dwell on the politics of the region too much. This movie will lead you through what it takes an unclaimed secret agency to carry out an operation without any external or internal help. The film keeps you not only riveted but also with your heart permanently stuck in your mouth, through its duration of two and half plus hours. That’s one of director Neeraj Pandey’s biggest achievements. And the other is, tackling of an extremely sensitive subject of terrorism filtering from Pakistan with absolutely no prejudgement and more importantly, without glossing over certain uncomfortable truths. The film subtly drives home the fact that terrorism has no specific religion or region. Pandey also relies on smart repartee between the actors, and some good old action scenes, including a rare fight sequence between a woman and the bad guy, where she hits him with gusto, instead of cowering in a corner and waiting for the hero to come and rescue her, as heroines in most Bollywood films are wont to do.
Akshay Kumar needs to work with Neeraj Pandey once a year!! After a series of comedies & non cynical movies (Except Holiday), Akshay is tailor made for this role! He flushes out his acting chops & martial skills to his fullest! Anupam Kher has continued his series of grave acting from A Wednesday and Special 26. He is a complete show stealer!! With Danny Denzongpa, you cant ask more. His naturalism oozed here. Kay Kay Menon, one of the most underrated actors in Bollywood has once again done a commendable job in the movie. Taapsee Pannu & Madhurima Tuli have a small role, but excel in it! Rana Daggubati is wasted. Pakistani actor, Mikaal Zulfiqar is also pleasant & likeable. The film works on many levels – effective dialogues, some laced with dead-pan humor (written by Neeraj Pandey), the break-neck pace, near-perfect casting and minimal melodrama. Of course the film has some minor issues, especially towards the end, which stretches the climax more than is good for it. Thankfully, this movie doesn’t have any songs, except for one which plays during the end credits, and very few distractions from the main plot. On the whole “Baby” is a fast-paced, smartly written and well-acted film that never wavers from its subject. Even if it doesn’t always keep you in suspense, it doesn’t let you wander too far. Pandey takes inspiration from Hollywood espionage films, but adapts the genre to the Indian context, adding the right touch of patriotism, secularism and family values to make it believable, but never overdoes it. his is one of those rare Bollywood movies that skips the melodrama, and for that alone, “Baby” deserves your time.This movie is a must watch!
Director – Neeraj Pandey
Rated – NR
Run Time – 160 minutes