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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

For Your Consideration: Baby [2015]

HIndie Awards 2016

For Your Consideration: Baby [2015]


So let's just get cracking with this crazy game of Road to HIndie Awards 2016.

The first major film to release this year and in fact the first film I saw this year in the cinemas; none other than Neeraj Pandey's Baby.

Now let me just lay down the rules once again. All the films in consideration, specifically the ones that I actually might think were good on first watch or at least an element of there's was will get a rewatch.

Prior to that; these For Your Consideration posts will use a mix of my own pre-release hype of the film, audience responses and critical analysis of each film, I will chart out what an expected campaign by the filmmakers would be for each of their films.

So first on the list is Baby. 

[PS: Despite my listing of Baby earlier this year as overrated and a tad bit disappointing, I will try my best not to bring my subjective opinion of the film]


Best Picture [Drama]: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar and Sheetal Sharma for Baby [T-Series]

Baby is a Spy Thriller film directed by Neeraj Pandey and produced by T-Series, Friday Filmworks and Crouching Tigers and Cape of Good Films; Distributed by T-Series.

This is the first film T-Series is campaigning with full force, their only other small campaign for the tepid Aashiqui 2 realized a nomination for Best Original Song [Tum Hi Ho].

Baby is a spy action thriller that follows the story of a special ops unit formed on the toes of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks. This unit of elite secret agents is called Baby, since it is on an operational trial period. Through an elaborate operation to prevent a terrorist attack in a Delhi based Mall; an agent Ajay Singh Rajput [Akshay Kumar] learn of a series of attacks being planned on Indian soil.

Ajay leading the Baby team now is in a race against time to stop these attacks and the man at the fore of them; a charismatic terrorist mastermind and propagandist Maulana [Rasheed Naz].

Best Director: Neeraj Pandey

Baby's fast paced and furious style makes it a doozy of an action film, but in the hands of Neeraj Pandey it doesn't remain just that. The film features a very intricate look at the men/faces that make up this faceless/nameless unit of soldiers willing to go through hell for their country including being branded renegades if caught.

While the film does take a bit from the likes of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, it infuses it with it's own tension and nerve wracking moments thanks to the assured hands of Neeraj Pandey and co.

Pandey is also smart in subverting certain expectations; from giving his hero a harsher edge to twisting tropes.

Neeraj Pandey is a two time Best Director Nominee for his other two films. Is third time the charm?

Best Actor in A Leading Role Male [Drama]: Akshay Kumar as Ajay Singh Rajput

Kumar is right in his comfort zone as the action hero.

However despite his star status, when it comes to working with Neeraj Pandey; Kumar is out through the wringer to display his latent acting chops. For a fan [yes, I grew up on Khiladi Kumar and later the comedic genius] this is tantalizing.

After providing him with one of his most finest roles in Special 26, Pandey does it again. Akshay's character isn't as grey shaded as the subtle back stories of Special 26 revealed, but it's a refined version of the patriotic hero he recently portrayed in the over the top Holiday.

Touted as Kumar's finest performance so far [hard for some to admit that comedy performances can be the best of leading actors]; the man throws himself into the demanding physicality's and at times emotional capabilities of the character who is a family man just waiting to get home.

So far Akshay Kumar has secured three prior nomination, all for the same film; OMG: Oh My God [Best Film as Producer, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor]

With both his star status and a role allowing him to present his acting chops, Kumar has an assured foot on a usually congested and tough race.

Best Actor in A Supporting Role Male [Drama]: Anupam Kher as Om Prakash Shukla and Danny Dezongpa as Feroz Ali Khan

The two veterans are to have the lengthiest roles next to Akshay Kumar himself.

Kher is a feature of every Neeraj Pandey film since the beginning. His turns as a magnificent character actor always yield positive results and in face under Pandey he is a former nominee for his role in Special 26.

In Baby he plays it altogether different and exciting thus urging a strong consideration. Playing against Akshay's character [despite being on the same team], creates for an exciting unseen chemistry of the two actors giving Kher a new role to slip into including that hairpiece.

On the other end is Dezongpa; cast in the unusual role of the head of the Baby Task force as Feroz Ali Khan. The aura he evokes is presumably strong and Dezongpa has a natural flair for being an actor with a grand stature and a dour expressive sensibility.

Both these actors have the powerhouse talent and character actor stature to be nominees, though their race gets far more difficult with the number of top class actors cropping up.

Best Ensemble

As such mentioned above, it's hard to consider multiple acting nominations for a film especially when in condition better roles are written across the board for actors through the year while also keeping into mind that Baby is an early year release hence bound to lack the freshness in mind [yes, I know I'm the only mind to consider okay...just...okay...just indulge me...okay].

Still, the three actors considered above are show stealers with large roles but nobody should forget the little guys. At the end of the day Baby is a spy unit made of multiple moving pieces and despite Akshay's well earned towering presence; the film is packed to the brim with good performances from the feisty and wicked Tapsee Panu to the expressively varied Sushant Singh and the scenery chewing Rahseed Naz.

In such a film, an ensemble is key and if there are three worthy performance to nominate then it's only because they have got such staunch support from other key actors.

Best Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee

A former nominee for his work in Guzaarish, Chatterjee is a seamless cinematographer that fits perfectly into a genre requiring neat, crisp but also inventive camera work ever since the release of the first Bourne film.

Travelling from Turkey to Nepal to Saudi Arabia, Baby allows Chatterjee to display these places with glory but location is not all that he rests on. Depicting the nitty gritty of the spy world but also giving it a slick sheen.

Technical prowess is important in such a genre and the camera work is at this forefront.

Chatterjee however faces stiff competition including the man who won against him last time; Nikos Andritsakis [for Detective Byomkesh Bakshi].

Best Editing: Shree Narayan Singh

Despite running longer than 2 hours, Baby feels like a breeze thanks to the combined efforts of Singh and his director to reign in the plot on a mission by mission basis yet never hold back on the semantics of the operations and the perfectly mixed dosage of genres.

There never feels like a wasted frame.

Spy Thrillers usually require precise pacing and for many Baby becomes that sort of romp.Though with only a winner to select, this is a tough category.

Best Original Score: Sanjoy Chowdhury

Equal parts patriotic and thrilling, Chowdhury's latest score is right in his comfort zone playing to the tunes of a fast paced narrative with a very core Indian sensibility.

Chowdhury already did the score for A Wednesday. He also faces a tough task that could cancel this nomination and that is my new setup rule;

In any nomination category, a person or persons cannot be nominated twice e.g. Akshay Kumar cannot be nominated for Best Actor [Drama] for Baby and Brother, though he can be nominated for both Best Actor [Drama] and Best Actor [Comedy/Romantic]

In this case Sanjoy Chowdhury is being campaigned for both this film and Roy.

So there it is; Best Picture [Drama], Best Director, Best Actor in A Leading Role Male [Drama], Best Actor[s] in a Supporting Role Male [Drama], Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score and Best Ensemble.

T-Series is pushing Baby for a total of 8 awards, we shall see what the film can secure.

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

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