Article Hindi

5 years of Baby: 5 reasons why the Akshay Kumar-starrer worked

As the Neeraj Pandey film completes five years, we revisit some of its best moments. 

Keyur Seta

Action is one genre that mainstream Hindi cinema loves. Yet, what we mostly get in the name of action films is a ‘hero’ battling an army of baddies before killing the main villain in the end. Now, to add to that, over the past decade or so, we have seen a number of films that follow the pattern of the Southern masala action films; some are even simply remakes of those films.

In other words, there has been a dearth of sensible and serious action films which also tackle an issue. Neeraj Pandey’s Baby (2015) was one action film that ticked all these boxes though this was new territory for the filmmaker who had earlier made dramas like A Wednesday (2008) and Special 26 (2013).

Baby had an action specialist star, Akshay Kumar, in the lead, but it certainly wasn’t a tried-and-tested action saga by any means. It dealt with the issue of Indian and global terrorism in a serious way. The story was about the journey of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) and his team as they set out to capture a terrorist (Kay Kay Menon) and how they encounter an unprecedented situation. 

As Baby completes five years today (it was released on 23 January 2015), we analyse the five reasons why the film worked. Do share your reasons in the Comments below.

1. Major Twist

No doubt, like most films of this genre, Baby was also about good guys pitted against the baddies. The mission of the RAW officers was to kill the terrorist Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon). But the story takes an unexpected turn in the second half when Akshay Kumar and Rana Daggubati suddenly get a chance to nab the head of the terrorists, Maulana Mohammed Saeed Rahman (Rashid Naz). From here on, the film ceases to fall in the run-of-the-mill action film category. 

2. Nail-biting Climax

Generally such films end with the good guys either killing or arresting the terrorists. But the twist about the sudden appearance of Maulana Mohammad Saeed Rahman turns the whole narrative on its head. The mission itself changes, which not many would have expected. This ensures that the film ends in a novel fashion.

Baby has a near-45-minute finale which keeps you at the edge of your seat. No, there are no bullets flying or explosions taking place like in most action films. Here, Akshay Kumar, Rana Daggubati and Anupam Kher’s characters go through various obstacles to bring the terrorist to India, but none like the last one where the Saudi Arabian cop is about to stop them. However, as he doesn’t find anything fishy, he lets them go. After a long nail-biting moment, when the cop says “no problem”, the audience heaves a sigh of relief. This scene brings back memories of the climax of the Hollywood film Argo (2012).

3. Applause-worthy Moment

Baby wasn’t the kind of masala flick where the hero would deliver dialogues with panache. But there was one moment that was cheered by audiences with claps and whistles. That came in the scene where Ajay Singh Rajput interrogates the terrorist Taufiq (Jameel Khan) who says, “Religion wala jo column hota hai na, usmein hum bold aur capital mein Musalman likhte hain [While filling a form, we write ‘Muslim’ in bold and capital letters in the religion column].”

To this, Rajput retorts, “Religion wala jo column hota hai, usme hum bold aur capital mein Indian likhte hain [We write Indian in bold and capital letters in the religion column].”

4. Performances

Akshay Kumar has done innumerable action films in his career. Yet, his performance in Baby stands out. This has also to do with the film not being your regular action film. Akshay Kumar carries out numerous action stunts but at the same time we get to see the actor in him too through a subtle performance. Similarly, the performances of other actors like Danny Denzongpa, Kay Kay Menon, Anupam Kher and Rana Daggubati are also restrained. 

But Rashid Naz stands out from the supporting cast as the head of a terrorist group. He might not have a lengthy role in the film, but his monologue where he addresses his brainwashed followers leaves you stunned. He appears like a real terror lord.

5. Technical Factors

Baby also scored highly in the technical departments and this played a major role in the film's impressive presence. The movie didn’t have those over-the-top action sequences. The fights and stunts were believable and, at the same time, gripping. The creative camerawork was noticeable during the Abu Dhabi scenes. The climax deserves a special mention for its editing, which added to the nailbiting experience.