Naam Shabana: Highway Reel Film Review

Naam Shabana is an opportunity wasted!

Cast – Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Bajpayee, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Akshay Kumar in a cameo

Director – Shivam Nair

Rating- ** / 5

Naam Shabana is sort of a prequel to Neeraj Pandey’s much appreciated film Baby, but it sadly doesn’t live up to the expectations.

The film dives straight into action from the very first scene – with some spies trying to take down a notorious mobster. Their failed attempt is staged to establish that this job will be eventually accomplished by the lead character, Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu).

Considering that she’s got an “action role” in the film, Shabana is a college going, kick-boxing champ, with a dark past and a short temper. Her life goes for a toss when she loses a close one in an accident, involving a bunch of eve-teasing hooligans. In the meantime, she receives help from an undercover agency to plot her revenge and in return goes on to work for them.

As interesting as the plot sounds, Naam Shabana fails on multiple levels. For a film in the spy-thriller genre, the makers need to Google the words “spy” and “thriller”. The first half falls flat on its face with a forced love story that becomes a little too predictable – just like the rest of the film.

It’s interesting when English dialogues are used in a mainstream Hindi film; only if the actors could deliver them fluently!

Over the years, we’ve had several movies trying to deal with the issue of sexual harassment. So giving the audience the same-old clichéd scenes will obviously make them cringe. I actually made a checklist of all the done-and-dusted stuff I’ve seen before:

  • A girl and a guy roaming around late at night – Check
  • A group of drunken guys in an open jeep – Check
  • The guys from “The Delhi” misbehave with the girl – Check
  • Not a single person in sight to help – Check

This list could go on, but I don’t want to give away any more spoilers because the director has already done that himself.

The second half is slightly more bearable, but when you finally find a suspense element that you think might lead somewhere, it disappoints again. Moreover, the numerous loopholes just don’t help the cause.

Forget convenient liberties, the story even defies logic on several occasions. For this kind of film, song-and-dance numbers seem absolutely unnecessary and all of them do nothing to take the half-baked narrative forward.

Taapsee Pannu has proved her mettle with Pink and Baby in the past and is laudable in this film too. She can definitely kick some butt! I still feel that a little more of her personality could have been explored instead of keeping her poker faced throughout the film.

Sadly, an actor of Manoj Bajpayee’s calibre was rather wasted. Although he was good, it seemed like all he did was talk on the phone throughout the film since he played a spy recruit.

In the little time that he had, Prithviraj manages to impress in his negative role. His Mallu accent does crop up from time to time but that can be ignored, thanks to his striking persona.

Akshay Kumar steals all the limelight with his cameo. His is the only role that intentionally makes you laugh.

Director Shivam Nair could have taken the Baby legacy to another level, but with a weak script and poorly executed story Naam Shabana is an opportunity wasted.

Supriya Says: If time, money and logic are precious to you, don’t waste this weekend on Naam Shabana.


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