In the 2015 spy thriller Baby, Taapsee Pannu's character Shabana had exactly 20 minutes screen time. But she clearly must have played something right. During post-production, director and writer Neeraj Pandey decided to create a prequel to the film and make Shabana the pivotal character in it.
And that's how Naam Shabana came to be.
With critical acclaim for Pink and Running Shaadi under belt, and Judwaa 2 in the pipeline, Taapsee is more than ready to take on a movie like Naam Shabana which chronicles the hardships and sacrifices of a spy. In an all-action-less-talk avatar, Shabana is on a mission to avenge her partner's death in the movie.
But besides promoting the movie, Taapsee has also been promoting the importance of learning self-defense. “It should not be looked at as a hobby or an additional thing to do at summer camp. It is absolutely vital for girls to be aware of basic self-defense techniques,” says Taapsee who learned a mixture of Judo and Krav Maga for her role.
“Taapsee may not have as many lines as I do in the film, but the fact that her character speaks volumes is enough,” says Manoj Bajpayee who plays Ranvir Singh, the Chief Information Officer, who trains Shabana.
“I, on the other hand, had many lines and I had to deliver them without emotions, almost in staccato,” he added.
Director Shivam Nair, who worked in tandem with the actors as well as the writer in order to bring Shabana's journey to life, says, “I have known Neeraj for a long time and I had watched Baby, so naturally I was a little afraid. Also since most of the cast and crew had worked together before for Baby. The chemistry on the set was already brimming. Manoj and Prithviraj Sukumaran were the only new additions.” Nair had last tried his luck in the thriller genre with Bhaag Johnny (2015).
While the rumor mills are abuzz with talks of more films based on other characters from the movie, Neeraj Pandey, who has produced Naam Shabana, wants to take it slow.
Naam Shabana hit the screens on 31 March, we will have to wait and watch to find out how the audience react to a female spy.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen