Taapsee Pannu puts her heart and soul into her role as a killing machine trained by an organization called The Agency. The film is a spinoff from the movie Baby, where a team of ‘agents’ trained by The Agency, are brought together as a team to bring down an international gang of terrorists. This is the back-story of Shabana, and includes in cameo roles the same cast as you saw in Baby: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa, and even Murali Sharma.
Shabana and her mom live in a cliched Muslim neighborhood of the crowded Mumbai’s Crawford Market. She is being tracked by someone who knows her tragic past as well as her present: her relationship with her mother, her college friends, her loyal boyfriend, her competing at Japanese martial art Kudo. The Agency wants to recruit her as a field agent. They help her avenge a death, and she joins them.
The setting of the vengeance scene is rather cliched and unfolds tackily: skimpily dressed ‘Russian’ girls, drunk and drugged Delhi boys in a Goa hotel where they’re dancing under neon lighting. Before you groan, Shabana shows up, waits for the right time and makes her kill. As audience, that watching that kill is very satisfying. But Akshay Kumar shows up and leads her out of the room from another door when she is unable to leave the room. You begin to wonder, if The Agency is really helping her. They gave her all the information about the lads, but they forgot to tell her the hotel room has another door?
The reason why she has to avenge is also a cliche. But the training center and everything that happens there is such a gigantic cliche, you forget to laugh at her ‘handler’ (poor Manoj Bajpai standing in front of a wall projection of the BMC building, and screens that look like cctv cameras in the city (where the traffic seems to be moving in a loop!). Who has been given bizarre dialog like: ‘Women have an extra chromosome which makes them born spies’, ‘Do not waste time in sports but join us; we can teach you how to die’…
Of course you’ve seen it all before: the international arms dealer who escaped the clutches of The Agency (cliche!), the reveal of his current whereabouts (cliche!), the character Tony(Prithviraj) who is the world’s most wanted (cliche!), how the baddies remove their jackets, shirts, and get into fistfight with the hero (Akshay Kumar) who gets to also get into a tub and have a beautiful girl massage his head and back (cliches all!). But the events go on and on, as if they were discovering the country cousin version of James Bond.
The Agency, for all its fancy surveillance equipment and hush-hush operations base, seems to have really out of shape, incompetent field agents (they die at the hands of the accomplished baddie who at first has no bodyguards, then many foolish machine gun toting ones- such a cliche). And if the baddie has challenged the Agency to send him the ‘best’ if they want to catch him, why do they choose the rookie agent Shabana and use their ‘best’ (Akshay Kumar) mostly as an escort for Shabana?
The scenes get so predictable, you can step out for a coffee and you wouldn’t have missed anything. The action sequences are good, but the accompanying sound effects are so loud you step out of the theatre and punch your friend playfully to check if that sound effect is replicated. It is not. Obviously. And that is how we wish the next spinoff to be: not so obvious.
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