Directed by Shivam Nair, ‘Naam Shabana’ is a prequel to Baby (2015) featuring the back story of Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu). After Pink, Taapsee Pannu has returned to the big screen with yet another unequivocally strong woman in ‘Naam Shabana’. The movie tells about the events before the special agent Shabana Khan joins the team Baby. Story commences with a daylight murder of two Indian secret agents, followed by the appearance of a bold-brat Kudo champion girl, Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) who hails from Mumbai and lives with her mother. Much like Baby, Naam Shabana also engages you with its crisp storyline and knock-out punches. The heavy background music and fewer dialogues will bind you throughout the 2 hours 28 minutes. The two undisputed heroes of the film — Taapsee Pannu and Manoj Bajpayee share a very intellectual  chemistry. Together they set to save their nation. Ek agenda hai — National security and that’s what is the ultimate aim of Shabana. Manoj Bajpayee is simply fantastic and Taapsee Pannu will take your heart away with her spotlessly stellar acting and martial arts. Although, you will see a few repetitions here and there from the scenes of ‘Baby’, but watch the movie for all the good reasons and get inspired by the women like Shabana Khan.

Aditi Gupta
Hindustan Times

Naam Shabana, touted to be India’s first spinoff, first story of the making of a spy, and one among several movies headlined by heroines, does not quite live up to the sky-high expectations. Unfortunately, it is not just the direction that falters. Neeraj’s screenplay isn’t as taut as his previous outings either. It lacks the depth of A Wednesday, Baby and Special 26. Unlike his previous stints, even the most important operations, thrilling escapades and edge-of-the-seat suspense sequences are predictable. Neeraj seems to be toying between two genres here: revenge and a spy thriller. While the revenge part is meted out in typical Bollywood style, he resorts to his own style when handling the thriller. In fact, the first half of Naam Shabana could actually be a separate revenge saga. It has all the ingredients of the Bollywood masala—a tragedy, a dark past, momentary happiness and the sudden occurrence of yet another tragic incident. Only, the parts that are supposed to establish a connection between the audience and the characters are loosely written and over dramatically portrayed onscreen. Taapsee looks powerful and dangerous in the action sequences, thanks to Cyrill Raffaeli and Abbas Ali Moghul, the action directors. The support cast, Danny Denzongpa, Manoj Bajpayee and Anupam Kher are good in their roles but the script does not allow them to help raise the film to a respectable level. Skip the film if you want to watch it for Neeraj Pandey’s previous filmography. Naam Shabana is nothing like his other films.

Sweta Kaushal
India Today

The surprise package of Baby, Taapsee Pannu, kicking some serious butt, Akshay Kumar's one-liners and lots of thrills - Naam Shabana looks full of crowd-pleasers on the surface, and if in doubt, there's always Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The problem is that the trailer gave it all away, which, by default, makes the first half of Naam Shabana a drag. It is perhaps to the director Shivam Nair's credit that in spite of the loopholes, Naam Shabana gives us some enjoyable moments. Taapsee is the hero of the film, save in the few scenes with Akshay, when he steals the limelight from her because "itne door se aaya hoon, kuch toh karne do!" And although Taapsee shoulders the film, her name appears in the end credits only AFTER Akshay's, in spite of his role being only an extended cameo. Sigh. The two club songs could have been done away with; although they are woven into the plot, they come across as jarring in a film like this. While in Baby, the climax is almost nail-biting, Naam Shabana makes it all too easy to get rid of the bad guy. If you want to watch Naam Shabana, do; just make sure you don't go in with the expectation of watching a riveting action-thriller like Baby.

Samrudhi Ghosh
The Indian Express

What does come as a surprise, however, is just how much of a drag the film is. Except for a few stray sequences in which the limber Pannu faces up to the bad guys, and the ones in which co-star Akshay moves in to demonstrate how the big boys do it, there is nothing either novel or interesting about the film. A tiny exchange about Shabana’s ‘religion’, which could have become meaningful and sharp, is dulled by dull repartee. From Akhsya Kumar to Anupam Kher, characters from Neeraj Pandey's Baby return for Naam Shabana. But why is Taapsee Pannu's Shabana, who left an impact last time, so stiff this time? The other problem is the plot. The final nail is the incessant, annoying background music. It blares non-stop and makes this film even longer than it is. Naam Shabana leaves you with a niggling question: why create a heroine in the action hero mode, with both mind and heart, and then give her a big bro to ‘help’ her out? This results in second-guessing your biggest asset, wondering if she is a liability.

Shubhra Gupta
The Times of India

Blame this prequel on the media. Most critics who saw Neeraj Pandey’s action-drama, Baby (2015) praised agent, Shabana’s cameo in it. Her brisk action-sequence in a Kathmandu hotel room, when accompanying Ajay Singh (Akshay Kumar) on a mission, provided the required adrenaline-rush. Taking the praise to their heart, this time around, the makers dedicated 148 mins, (really?) to the spunky agent. Sorry, but the running time is the film’s first inherent flaw. Frankly, Shabana shone in Baby because she was in a cameo. Someone missed the point, guys. Such contrivances apart, when viewed as a stand-alone film, Shabana has some definite merit. The first half indulges the protagonist and her love interest, Jai too much. It is only post-intermission, especially the last 35 minutes in which proceedings pick up. Sticking to a typical-action drama narrative that jumps from Mumbai to Goa, Vienna to Kuala Lumpur, with the arms dealer and the ISI agents playing a cat-and-mouse game, the film, is more an escapist fare than a realistic one. Taapsee delivers some knockout punches and is sincere enough. Manoj is brilliant, though he has just dialogue-baazi and no action to support him. As for Akshay, he is happy to lend his superstar-presence and bask in the girl power. So go ahead and salute his spirit.

Meena Iyer
Naam Shabana
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