Reviews

Baby review: Preventive measures

TALES OF TERROR A scene from “Baby”  

Like romantic flicks, tales of terror also need an update in the times of social media. Many summers back Neeraj Pandey gave us a common man’s rhetoric on terrorism in the garb of a taut thriller. This week the common man of A Wednesday gives way to a trained intelligence officer, Ajay Singh Rajput who leads a young counter-terrorism unit called Baby. Like the common man he also wants to clean the gutter before the germs infest his society. Like the common man he is also not expecting anything in return.

In the meantime Abbottabad raid happened, giving Neeraj the creative licence to envision a surgical strike. In D Day Nikhil Advani brought a Dawood Ibrahim like character home here Neeraj has a Fazlur Rehman-like figure in mind with an Argo-like climax in Saudi Arabia.

Set in post 26/11 India, the film accepts the presence of terror modules in the country where young educated Muslims are being recruited and gives a face to them. It presents a world where nations no longer support terrorists active in other countries. They are presented as non- state actors who are running the business of terror in the name of religion. It might be a convenient way to avoid controversy and a complex narrative but the way Neeraj has paced it, the missing links don’t cry for attention.

Subtle but effective, the film’s heart is on the right side. It supports the idea of Indian intelligence agencies going the Mossad way. However, it steers clear of the political motives behind such operations and shows the political boss as a non-interfering yes man. The fact that geopolitics is a complex game of self- interests, where patriotic officers are often compromised is not on Neeraj’s agenda. It makes Ajay’s task more physical than mental. With the whys of the problem neatly tucked into the patriotic cover, there are no moral dilemmas to grapple with. Just phone calls from a doting wife (Madhurima Tuli).

True to the tradition, Neeraj juxtaposes every bad Muslim character with a good one. So for every Maulana Rehman (Pakistani actor Rashid Naz looks the part) there is a Firoz Ahmed (Danny Denzongpa lends gravitas to the role of Intelligence chief), who tells the story of Baby.

The best part is the film doesn’t romanticise the job that these daredevils do nor does Neeraj turn it into a dry procedural. He does talk about the nameless nature of the job and the sacrifices these agents have to make but all of it is portrayed through the course of action with wry wit.

Akshay Kumar nails the part. Restrained without being monotonous, Akshay keeps the heart throbbing. Action choreographer Cyril Raffaelli keeps the stunts believable and the danger palpable in the lanes of Kathmandhu and Istanbul. The support actors don’t stay beyond their welcome. Taapsee impresses as the hard boiled agent in a demure salwar suit, Rana Dagubatti plays the hulk bit to the hilt. Not to forget Anupam Kher’s turn as a circumspect techie.



Baby

Genre: Action/ Thriller

Director: Neeraj Pandey

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Anupam Kher, Kay Kay Menon, Rashid Naz, Rana Daggubati, Sushant Singh, Taapsee Pannu, Madhurima Tuli



Bottomline: A gripping espionage thriller that eschews drama and jingoism.

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Printable version | May 4, 2021 4:41:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/baby-review-preventive-measures/article6815285.ece

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