Neeraj Pandey is quite adept at a certain kind of taut narrative that usually focusses on razor-sharp national security operatives trying to thwart threats, snatched directly from current headlines.
Although his latest production Naam Shabana is directed by Shivam Nair, this first look has a heavy Pandey influence. The film outlines the backstory of Shabana, the tough-as-nails female associate of special agent Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) from Pandey’s 2015 film Baby.
A few of the old cast are back: Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa and of course, Taapsee Pannu as the leading lady. Early in the trailer, Manoj Bajpayee (putting on his sternest face) is revealed as the officer who recruits and trains Shabana.
The young entrant is put through the paces (cue, a montage of Taapsee kickboxing/punching/shooting her way through a training regimen) and handed her big assignment. In this case, she has been pitted against an unimaginatively-named baddie Tony (Malayalam actor Prithviraj). Pandey’s regular collaborator Akshay features in a cameo, which no doubt will be pivotal in pinning the enemy down.
The state of the spy thriller in Hindi movies hasn’t been particularly heartening lately. Naam Shabana has the novelty of a female protagonist. But the symbolic shift won’t amount to much if the final product doesn’t measure up.
Watch the trailer here: