Super Cassettes Industries Ltd., Friday Filmworks, Cape Of Good Films and Crouching Tiger Productions’ Baby (UA) is a thriller. A special undercover team is formed by the government under the leadership of Feroze Ali Khan (Danny Denzongpa) to wipe out Pakistani terrorists spreading terror in India. In the team are sincere and dedicated members, the best among them being Ajay (Akshay Kumar). Ajay puts duty before self and his family comprising wife (Madhurima Tuli) and two little children, Arjun (master Khushmeet) and Ananya (baby Dishita).
One Pakistani terrorist, Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) is already in an Indian jail. The mastermind, Maulana Mohammed Rehman (Rashid Naz), is in Pakistan and has evil designs to strike in India. Jamal (Karan Gupta), working for the undercover Indian team, betrays the team and leaks information to the terrorists because of which one honest team member, Rakesh (Taskin), is captured by them. Both, Rakesh and Jamal, have to ultimately pay with their lives.
Bilal Khan escapes from captivity and flees the country. The undercover team gets lucky when Ajay reaches Taufeeq (Jameel Khan) and gets vital information about a terrorist, Javed (Vatsal Rajan). However, when his team goes to arrest Javed, all the team members except Ajay, and the terrorist himself are killed. Taufeeq also commits suicide.
Soon, Ajay gets a lead about terrorist Waseem Khan (Sushant Singh) being in Nepal. He goes to Nepal alongwith Priya (Tapsee Pannu) and the two succeed in bringing Waseem to India. They torture Waseem till he reveals that Bilal Khan is in Al-dera in Saudi Arabia and is planning many terrorist attacks in India.
Ajay, accompanied by Jai (Rana Daggubati) and Shukla (Anupam Kher), goes to Al-dera to stop Bilal Khan from spreading terror in India. The trio manages to reach Bilal who is lodged in a hotel. But the three aren’t prepared for another terrorist who is with Bilal Khan.
Who is the other terrorist? Do Ajay, Jai and Shukla capture or kill both the terrorists? If so, how? If not, what happens to the two terrorists and the planned terror attacks in India? Who is Ashfaq, the local in Al-dera, whom Ajay and group rely on while they are there? Does Ashfaq help them?
Neeraj Pandey’s story is simple and connects easily with the audience because terrorism is a subject easily understood by everybody. In that sense, there is not much novelty in the plot. In fact, at the story level, it looks like an oft-repeated subject. It also reminds of Akshay Kumar’s recent film, Holiday. However, the screenplay concentrates on the entire process of the working of the undercover team and that is interesting as well as quite novel. Although the film has plenty of action, drama, tension and thrills, the other ingredients of a commercial entertainer – romance, songs, comedy and emotions – are almost completely absent. Therefore, there will be one section of the audience which will not approve of the film completely, as it will find the drama too tension-ridden and not wholesome. However, there will be another section of the audience which will appreciate the fact that the film has not unnecessarily been burdened with the usual diversions and has been kept on the singular track of terrorism. In other words, the drama does not have universal appeal.
The film picks up phenomenally once Ajay and Priya go to Nepal (in the second half). The entire Nepal episode is very entertaining. Once again, the drama in Al-dera is superb and has nail-biting excitement and breathtaking moments. But, in spite of this, the audience does not experience a rush of patriotic emotions, and that is because the terrorists are not shown carrying out a single activity successfully in India, because of which there aren’t any victims of their terrorism to tug at the audience’s heart-strings and also because the drama concentrates more on the modus operandi of the undercover team. This is a major minus point of the screenplay. Nevertheless, the tension and the excitement keep the audience interest alive right from the start till the end. Neeraj Pandey’s dialogues are very good but they often lack the punch, because of which there aren’t many clap-worthy moments.
Akshay Kumar does a splendid job and puts his all into the character of Ajay. He performs so brilliantly that he looks every inch like an undercover agent. If his acting is excellent, his action scenes are marvellous. Danny Denzongpa’s persona and performance befit the character of Feroze Ali Khan. He lends the character a lot of dignity with his able acting. Rana Daggubati looks the character he plays and is good in a brief role. Anupam Kher shines as Shukla and provides the much-needed relief in the otherwise tension-ridden drama. Rashid Naz looks terrifying as Maulana Mohammed Rehman. He acts beautifully and his dialogue delivery is superb. Kay Kay Menon is restrained as Bilal Khan and he leaves a lasting impression. Mikaal Zulfikaar is lovely as Ashfaq. Sushant Singh is very efficient in a brief role. Jameel Khan (as Taufeeq) and Karan Gupta (as Jamal) lend very good support. Tapsee Pannu makes her presence felt in a tiny role. Madhurima Tuli doesn’t get much scope but is good in whatever she is asked to do. Murali Sharma is entertaining as Gupta, secretary to the minister. Amar Talwar is natural as the minister. Vijay Tilani leaves a mark as Sameer. Hasan Noman makes his presence felt as Hani in Al-dera. Vatsal Rajan (as Javed), Mukesh Bhatt (as Bilal Khan’s lawyer), Jaywant Wadkar (as Gawde), Sanjeev Tyagi and Rajeev (both as accomplices of Gawde), Akash (as Aftab), Alok and Jaiveer (as the two friends of Aftab), Sajjad (as the doctor in Al-dera), Ahmed (as the health inspector in Al-dera), Taskin (as Rakesh), master Khushmeet (as Arjun), baby Dishita (as Ananya) and the other actors lend the required support. Esha Gupta adds glamour and oomph in an item song.
Neeraj Pandey’s direction is very good. In spite of absence of romance, music, emotions and comedy, he has made a film which keeps the audience engrossed and entertained. Music (M.M. Kreem and Meet Bros. Anjjan) is functional. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) are okay. Vishnu Deva’s choreography is alright. Sanjay Chowdhury’s background music is of a very good standard. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography (with additional cinematography by Sudheer Palsane) deserves distinction marks. Cyril Raffaelli and Abbas Ali Moghul’s action and stunts are enjoyable. Sandeep Sharad Ravade’s production designing is appropriate. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is crisp.
On the whole, Baby is an entertaining fare but it does not have some important ingredients of an entertainer, which the audiences are used to getting in films. Business could’ve been far better had the film taken a flying start but its ordinary initial on the one hand and absence of ingredients like romance, music, emotions and comedy on the other will ultimately restrict its business. Even though collections are bound to pick up due to positive word of mouth and in spite of the benefit of the Republic Day national holiday, it would not prove to be an earning proposition in the final tally as the price is high.