GIRL GI JOE WITH GOOD GUSTO
: Shabana Khan (Taapsee) is the special agent who is entrusted the task of assassinating a deadly arms dealer(Prithviraj) by the Indian Intelligence Agencies.
: Blame this prequel on the media. Most critics who saw Neeraj Pandey’s action-drama, Baby (2015) praised agent, Shabana’s cameo in it. Her brisk action-sequence in a Kathmandu hotel room, when accompanying Ajay Singh (Akshay Kumar) on a mission, provided the required adrenaline-rush. Taking the praise to their heart, this time around, the makers dedicated 148 mins, (really?) to the spunky agent. Sorry, but the running time is the film’s first inherent flaw. Frankly, Shabana shone in Baby because she was in a cameo. Someone missed the point, guys.
That be as it may, empowering women has merit. So we will go along with the maker’s thought process in giving us this offering. Only wish Pandey (credited with story-screenplay-dialogues) hadn’t over-simplified proceedings. Here, the men (Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay (cameo) and other characters from Baby) are almost spoon-feeding Shabana.
Such contrivances apart, when viewed as a stand-alone film, Shabana has some definite merit.
Straight away it reminds you how women are no longer helpless when teased by a bunch of drunken louts; or when brushed against accidentally in crowded spaces. They have enough and more in their DNA to give back as good as they get.
Also a quick look at Shabana’s back-story. Growing up she was scarred by an alcoholic father, who abused her mother. And she has spent time in a juvenile correction facility for accidentally killing her father. Instead of allowing this to mar her future, Shabana moulds herself differently from your average Seeta, Salma or Suzy.
The first half indulges the protagonist and her love interest, Jai too much. It is only post-intermission, especially the last 35 minutes in which proceedings pick up. Sticking to a typical-action drama narrative that jumps from Mumbai to Goa, Vienna to Kuala Lumpur, with the arms dealer and the ISI agents playing a cat-and-mouse game, the film, is more an escapist fare than a realistic one.
Taapsee delivers some knockout punches and is sincere enough. Manoj is brilliant, though he has just dialogue-baazi and no action to support him. As for Akshay, he is happy to lend his superstar-presence and bask in the girl power. So go ahead and salute his spirit.