Baby’s opening scene starts off with a spiraling shot of Istanbul, Turkey. We’re then presented a gory picture of a man tied to a chair, in what is presumed to be an abandoned building. He’s being beaten to a pulp by goons for reasons yet unknown to us. This gory scene sets the stage for testosterone-fueled patriotic action that’ll follow.
Baby is the name of a special black ops team formed by the Indian government right after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which is referred to as ‘26/11.’ Now, five years into the program, the team is a huge success, having nullified multiple terror threats. They operate secretly around the globe, and if caught, the Indian government disowns them, claiming complete deniability. Suffice to say, this elite team is Indian government’s best offence against international and national terrorism.
The team is headed by Feroze Ali Khan, played by Danny Denzongpa, who has already played a similar character in 16 December more than a decade ago. His job includes playing petty politics with the government, explaining plot points to the
audience external affairs minister, handling all the agents, coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, and being the face of a patriotic Indian Muslim.
Cut to the present. One of the secret agents has gone rogue and shook hands with the enemy, plotting a terrorist attack against his own nation. Ajay Singh Rathore (Akshay Kumar) is sent in to capture the rogue agent and make him
talk sing. And he does exactly that, after a chase through streets, buildings, tram cars, underground pubs and cafes. For a super secretive operation, these guys surely know how to create a ruckus in public. No wonder their team is aptly named Baby.
Ajay succeeds in fishing out information from the rogue agent Javed, who also happens to be his friend. Javed warns Ajay that even though they’ve stopped this one terror attack, there are many ‘Diwalis’ planned for India.
Over the course of 160 minutes, this same scene is repeated over and over, with just the settings changed. The plot is pretty straightforward, though with inconsistent logic.
Like with every Bollywood movie, there is also a bit of romance thrown in. Ajay’s beautiful wife, played by Madhurima Tuli, does a passable job. Her character’s sole purpose is to create a tense family atmosphere while the hero is out there saving the nation. Her favourite dialogue “Bas Marna Mat” (Just don’t die) is gut-wrenching at best.
Neeraj Pandey has made a name for himself after A Wednesday and Special 26. While his first film A Wednesday was a thrilling masterpiece, his next film Special 26, a heist caper, added unnecessary romance to an otherwise amazing plot. The same could be said about Baby.
The main villain is Maulana Mohammad (Rasheed Naz), a mullah who lives near the ‘Border Areas.’ His anti-India sentiments are made clear from the start. His melodramatic speech to hundreds of Islamic extremists is sure to set the stage for some adrenaline patriotic action later on.
What’s surprising is that Mohammad has his operatives spread throughout India, and they are ready to do anything for him. It’s a different matter altogether that all the terrorists in this movie are idiots, except when the plot doesn’t require them to. They don’t know how to avoid CCTV cameras, being followed, use secure channels for communication, recruit other operatives carefully, or any other intelligent behaviour you’d expect from international terrorists.
Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) is a terrorist rotting in the jails of Mumbai. He is disappointed that Kasab gets better treatment than him, though he has committed far worse terrorist attacks. Maulana Mohammad plans to rescue and unleash him on India. The action that follows is filled with clichés, but it’s quite enjoyable.
After tracking down another terrorist to Kathmandu, who was presumed to be dead so far, Ajay and his team learn that Bilal has escaped to Saudi and is in the process of gathering funds for the ‘Diwalis’ he’s planning to organize in India.
We get to watch a kickass man-vs-woman action scene in Kathmandu though. Priya Suryavanshi performs the action scenes sexily. Bollywood, more of that please!
The action in this moving is its only saving grace. It’s comparable to low budget Hollywood standards. Neeraj Pandey has come a long way since his first movie; I hope he pushes the envelope even further in the coming years.
The ‘Deep Asset’ Ashfaq in Saudi played by Pakistani actor Mikaal Zulfikar is a convenient plot device. He is the answer to everything the black ops team needs in a foreign country. Whether you need a new identity, money, car, hotel room, passport, tactical gear, medical equipment or visa, he can get it done for you. If you ask me, I’d say he’s the real star of this movie.
The final showdown takes place in Saudi. Though it is a predictable mess, it will keep you glued to your seats until the credit starts rolling. Akshay Kumar has delivered yet another good performance in this film. He’s portrayed his character’s funny, calm and brutal nature perfectly. The final act also brings in Neeraj Pandey’s staple actor Anupam Kher in the form of Shuklaji, a funny technician who doesn’t hesitate from showing how scared he is.
One thing I like about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t hesitate from naming the terrorists. No wonder Pakistan government has banned this film in their country. The terrorists in this movie are all Muslims, just like most of them are in real life. However, there are morally good Muslims portrayed in the movie too, to balance things out. I appreciate this bold move by the Indian filmmakers.
Baby is not a bad film by Bollywood standards. It’s entertaining, sophisticated, well-shot and an overall decent thriller. The story and dialogues are passable, but that shouldn’t deter you from watching it.