Every director, in Indian cinema, has to grapple with the devil called ‘believability’. In such cases, he can do three things – choose an apt actor for the script in his mind, choose an actor who believes in the script as much as he does and is willing to go the distance to justify it or care two hoots for the audience and make the film.
Director Neeraj Pandey, has done the first two things for Baby. He chose Akshay Kumar as protagonist for the movie and Akshay went the length to justify the role. The biggest achievement for an actor, with/without an image, is the moment when audience fails to separate the reel from real. Perhaps that’s the reason why they are so happy when they are called by their reel names.
Neeraj Pandey, sets the premise early in the movie and doesn’t beat around the bush. He seems mighty sure of the story at hand. It has been his hallmark in both his previous movies- A Wednesday and Special 26. He has the knack of drawing good performances from every actor. Anupam Kher, these days, seems to reserve his best for Neeraj’s movies. And so does Akshay Kumar. Akshay has given two of his best performances in the recent memory in Neeraj’s movies.
Neeraj’s movies, in movie industry parlance, are ‘somewhere in between’. Not art house films and not your typical masala fare. It would be a fallacy to say that he combines the best of both the forms. The presence of a star gives him the chance to explore the script on a much bigger canvas. That said, not everything is perfect with his movies. If you saw Special 26, you would be as bemused with the graphics work done for the scenes in Kolkata because they seemed to nail the Delhi part well. In Baby too there are some irregularities, but they are few and far in between.
In this movie too, he inserts a few scenes that could’ve led to addition of few more scenes. In fact, you are expecting it. The decision taken against having those scenes is good as we know the reactions to those situations. The fact that he doesn’t have them makes the screenplay tight.
The biggest achievement of the director was to take three ‘wooden faces’ in Akshay Kumar, Rana Dagubbati and Tapsee Pannu and make each of them have a defining scene in the movie. OK, Rana, not quite so. The scene of Tapsee Pannu in Katmandu was probably the best scene of the movie. Everything in that scene sort of surprises you and, yeah, for fair measure, Akshay Kumar too.
Anupam Kher as the foul mouthed technical person seems to be in grip of the proceedings and doesn’t bumble around. He is a dependable artiste in Neeraj’s movies.
Danny as the head of the team performs well
Akshay Kumar, after the character was zeroed in on, had to be just himself and he does a good of handling the proceedings. He lends naturalilty to a lot of scenes that would’ve seemed scarcely believable with other actors. After Sangharsh he has been a changed actor and this movie would surely be remembered fondly by him
Verdict: A Good movie. Enjoyable fare without getting emotionally or jingoistically sucked into the proceedings