Tapsee Pannu plays Shabana Khan , who is a girl with a controversial past---she had fought back violence with violence and had to face the consequences for doing so . But the courage that she showed while confronting violence raises the interest of the country's intelligence agency , which keeps a watch on her for years because it is hoping to use her as an 'asset' to destroy the enemies of the nation . The intelligence agency's interest is further aroused by the training and expertise in martial arts that she is getting in the judo academy she attends . She is a potential fighter whose skills may come useful in defending the nation's interests .
But Shabana is unaware of this , attending college and hanging out with her friends . And happiness seems to be round the corner , with a boy studying in her college confessing his love for her . He claims that he likes her because he feels protected when he is with her because of her expertise in martial arts !!
But clearly she is destined for greater things than just protecting her boyfriend....and the opportunity to get involved in those things appears when tragedy strikes her life and she is hell bent on revenge for those who brought about the tragedy . The intelligence agency's agent ( played by Manoj Bajpayee ) strikes a quid pro quo deal with Shabana---the agency will help her take revenge on her tormentors in return for her permanent recruitment in the agency .
The first half of the movie deals with the manner in which revenge is dealt to her oppressors , but the second half is when she has to pay back the help which was given to her by the intelligence agency by fighting for the nation in foreign lands . She discovers the mindset of the agency---her hopes for getting a medal for India in international martial arts championships are belittled as a waste of life , for the agency's officers believe that the only real achievement is in saving countless innocents from attacks launched by enemies of the nation . Her every mission is supposed to be a road to death because the agency's agents are to be prepared to die in the mission .
The second half is dominated by the agency's attempt to kill an international arms dealer called Mikhail in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia , which are formidably roadblocked by his second in command Tony ( Prithviraj Sukumaran ) . It is Shabana's job to do kill Mikhail , and her boss on the mission is played by Akshay Kumar . But Akshay has let Tapsee take centre stage in every situation .
The movie has the same feel as the earlier movie from the same stable---'Baby' . The proceedings are taut and crisp , and the fights are decently choreographed . The kicks and punches seem authentic . Photography is good too and colours of the movie are decent .
The movie has songs too , and they were surprisingly good . The women dancing on those songs and prancing in the bedrooms of powerful men looked heartmeltingly beautiful . Tapsee looks deglamourised in front of them ; her job is not to look stunning but to deliver somersaulted martial arts chops on those who threaten the country .
So why is the movie called 'Naam Shabana' ? The name reminded me of the dialogue in 'A wednesday'---a film made by the same man ( Neeraj Pandey ) who has made this movie . Refusing to reveal the name of the main protagonist in that movie , a character in that movie says that he is refusing because people search for religion in a person's name . Here I will add that name also reveals the gender of the person . Here a female whose religion is made pointedly obvious gives us a patriotic high by dealing death to the nation's foes---a nice feeling indeed .
Three stars .