Neeraj Pandey made a stunning debut with â€˜A Wednesdayâ€™, a thriller that addressed the issue of terrorism. He followed it up with â€˜Special 26â€™, which received widespread appreciation from audience and critics alike. While I loved â€˜A Wednesdayâ€™, I was a bit underwhelmed after watching â€˜Special 26.â€™ The film had some memorable performances and was a testimony to the fact that Neeraj has a keen eye for detail. The film opened with a bang, got me embroiled in the proceedings, only to fizzle out in the end. Neeraj Pandey is back with Baby, an espionage thriller that sees him teaming up with Akshay Kumar again after â€˜Special 26.â€™ The scale of the film is much larger than that of the duoâ€™s last film together. The promos have wedged one into expecting a nail-biting thriller that would, for a change, stand out for its realistic portrayal of the serious issue of that terrorism is.
A voice over by Danny Denzongpa, in the opening credits of the film, inform us that â€˜Babyâ€™ is the name of a special operation wing of commandoes and what we are going to witness is the last mission embarked upon by the team. Rakesh, an agent, has been betrayed by another of their agents and is captured by terrorists in Istanbul. Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) is sent to rescue him and capture the rogue agent. Akshay gets to know about a major terror attack being planned. Ajay moves around with his team on the domestic turf and unravels many important details about the attack. In the second half, the story moves between Nepal, Istanbul and the Gulf and we are introduced to some important characters. Ajay goes out on a mission to capture Maulana Mohammed Rahman (Rasheed Naz), the leader of the terrorist group. He plans to find Maulana by bringing down the members of the terrorist group. While Ajay is aided by Priya (Taapsee Pannu) in the first operation, Shukla (Anupam Kher) and Jai (Rana Dagubatti) join in the final stages of the mission.
â€˜Babyâ€™ is steeped in realism; the makers have done a lot of research on counter terrorist units, terrorist groups and all the material that has gone into writing this script. As the film unfolds, you realize the writers have taken a lot of pain to flesh out an authentic screenplay. Having said, there are a couple of places in the film where Neeraj (who is also the writer) has taken creative liberties. The way Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) escapes from the clutches of the police comes across as very convenient. There is no traffic on the road and no additional policemen arrive on the scene even as cross firings take place between the members of the terrorist group and the police. In the second half, the ease with which Priya wins Wasimâ€™s (Sushant Singh) confidence is not too convincing either.
Apart from a couple of such scenes, which reek of escapism, itâ€™s hard to find fault with this taut, engaging thriller. Baby holds your attention from the first frame and does not offer a dull moment throughout its 160 minutes duration. The screenplay, which is full of twists and surprises, keeps you guessing till the end. There is not a single scene which seems forcefully inserted. Even the scenes that feature Ajay and his wife (Madhurima Tuli) are poignant and contribute towards the emotional quotient of the film. The dry humour sprinkled in between the tense mood of the film acts as relief. What also works in the favour of the film is that the viewers are given detailed information about each and every step taken by Ajay and his team. There is no â€˜how did that happen?â€™ moment in store for the viewers.
Baby boasts of some commendable performances and each and every member of the cast delivers. Some may feel that certain actors have not ample screen time but one has to understand that they are brought in when the script needs them. Akshay Kumar delivers the best performance of his career as Ajay Singh Rajput. He is believable as a tough, no-nonsense commando and is equally effective in the scenes which require him to display his vulnerable side. Danny Denzongpa, as the head of the unit, exercises authority and at the same time, exhibits a certain restraint in his performance. Taapsee Pannu makes an entry in the second, appears for a while and then disappears. But, she makes a solid impact in those few minutes. Her action scene with Sushant Singh is brilliant. Anupam Kherâ€™s character reminds one of the character he played in â€˜Special 26.â€™ His character is very entertaining. Rasheed Naz is menacing as Maulana. His dialogue delivery is wonderful. Kay Kay Menon is very good but his part could have been written better. Sushant Singh does very well as a negative character. He also brings in some humour in the interrogation scene. Rana Daggubati, Jameel Khan, Madhurima Tuli and Mikaal Zulfiqar play their parts well.
Even though the film is engulfed in jingoism, it is far from being preachy. The action scenes, the chase sequences â€“ everything complements the screenplay of the film and are not added without a purpose. Baby is a supremely engaging thriller that has a lot of intellectual depth as well. It does not insult the insult the intelligence of the viewers; instead it asks them to submerge themselves in the plot.