This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Karthik Shankar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

No ‘Baby’ No!

More from Karthik Shankar

By Karthik Shankar:

Is Baby really our best attempt at emulating politically conscious thrillers?

Quickly then – The movie’s title refers to a newly formulated, specialised intelligence cell that targets terrorists. The Bollywood flick details the team’s efforts to nab a syndicate of Islamic terrorists, both Indian and Pakistani, who have planned a series of terror attacks around India.


One of the only complex ideas in Baby comes early on when the head of Baby, Feroze Khan, tells a minister that people turning to fundamentalists is the State’s weakness because people don’t have enough confidence in the State. The rest of the movie then completely ignores that nuance because what we need are more moustache twirling villains beaten by manly heroes.

At a time when American Sniper is making waves at the US box office and attracting a lot of controversy for whitewashing a sociopathic killer, Baby is just as noxious. Baby cloaks its illogical plot with the serious socio-political concerns of our world today without delving into them. It’s like walking into a theatre expecting a high minded thriller and instead getting served the tales you made up with your G.I Joe action figures! No kidding, and here’s why:

1) Superheroes without tights

The very idea that Indian intelligence has the ability to carry out covert operations around the world like the CIA or Mossad is a fanciful bit of concoction on the screenwriter’s part. The team of Baby not only prevents attacks in suspiciously empty parking lots in Delhi malls, they also gallivant across the world making the world a safer place to live in for the Indian diaspora.

Baby presents our fighters as superheroes and asks us to venerate them even further. Don’t let its real world trappings influence you, this is basically a more prestigious version of Bollywood’s machismo infused masala films. Except this time you can enjoy it without guilt. Baby has a mash up of influences, from Argo to Zero Dark Thirty. However, its truest spiritual companion would be Rambo.

2) Sort your Muslims into black and white

Right from the start Baby helps us out by classifying Muslims into two camps – good and bad. Bad Muslims are steeped in religious culture, usually wear topis and speak liberally sprinkle their Hindi with Urdu words. Good Muslims wear well coifed suits or western wear and actively help government anti-terrorist cells.

At every point, the good Muslims are presented as out of the norm. Feroze Khan, the head of Baby wears perfectly tailored suits and simply exists as an authority figure who appears slightly frazzled when nothing goes according to plan. When a young college educated boy informs the cell about clandestine terrorist training camps in Nepal, the protagonist Ajay Rajput played by Akshay Kumar intones “I’m very proud of you” with absolutely no trace of irony. That’s clearly intended to be India’s message to young Muslims. If only the movie at least made a pretence of being interested in that character who is risking his life by being an informant. Instead he is tossed aside like yesterday’s stale dal chawal.

3) Jingoism is not a word, it’s a sentiment

Baby’s real fervour is reserved not for Ram or Allah but for our motherland. Feroze waxes eloquent about his team’s devotion to India to a minister by referring to it as ‘Desh Bhakti’.

In one scene, Ajay storms into the residence of Taufeeq (Jameel Khan), a man who has connections with Pakistani terrorists. A conversation ensues where they make thinly veiled threats at each other. Taufeeq then explains how being Muslim is the core of his identity. Ajay then deadpans – “Religion wala jo column hota hai usmein hum bold aur capital mein Indian liktey hain.” (In the religion column, we write Indian in bold and capital letters). Akshay Kumar and team deserve a big round of applause. Telling Muslims that they have to choose between their Islamic and Indian identities will totally solve the war on terror.

4) You are with us or against us

Baby’s climax is the most disconcerting part of the film. It hinges on the actions of a Muslim, a Saudi investigator who is hot on the trails of our protagonists. As Ajay and his group make their way to an international flight from Saudi Arabia along with a drugged, hate spewing Pakistani cleric, the investigator played by Hasan Noman has to make a split second decision about whether to let their flight take off. After all this sleuthing, he is seized by what can only be a bout of ‘F-ck yeah India!’ and makes the decision to let our heroes go scot free. His label of good Muslim hinges on this decision. After all, if he had done his job properly he would have sided with the terrorists. If only real life was this beautifully nuanced.

5) Democracy is overrated

The movie continually justifies the use of paramilitary forces to achieve justice. When Ajay deals with Taufeeq, he chooses the delightful method of strangulation with a plastic bag to wrangle information out of him. When the Baby team is formulating its next plan of action, Ajay rejects the idea of going through official lines to take out a terrorist because it would lead to delayed action. At no point is the idea that some of the suspects they are pursuing might be innocent, or not wholly culpable, even considered. But with terrorists this overtly evil, who needs justice? We just need to gun them all down amirite or amirite mate?!

The definite choice for the Critic’s award for 2015. Not. Or maybe (rigging much?).

You must be to comment.
  1. Manoj

    Wao !! Nice “POSTMORTEM”
    Would love if you do of OMG, Haider, PK, Singham Returns.
    Please !!

  2. Rishabh Raj

    What the fuck did I just read! O.o

    Point number 1 – The script might not be a realistic one, but yes it is for sure an idealistic one. And it is the freedom of expression of the writer to present his/her idea in an artistic way.

    And please don’t be in a misunderstanding that relating BABY with the other Hollywood movies will downgrade the stature of the so well crafted thriller BABY, and people will get influenced by your review and when the next time they watch, they watch with a bad eye. (Please stop this Hypocrisy -_- )

    Point number 2 – I think they rather emphasised on classifying good ‘people’ and bad ‘people’ (not muslims).

    And according to your observance about the good and the bad muslims, let me tell you that the bad muslims wore islamic kurta as well as the good muslims (as in the case of Ashfaq, and that too in most of the scenes).

    And “Good Muslims wear well coifed suits or western wear…”. Well, it is very obvious that a man, whether a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, at a higher post, such as Feroze Khan in the movie, will wear well coifed suit instead of their regional wear, debarring their religious identity.

    “…and actively help government anti-terrorist cells”. I don’t know whether you wrote this line sarcastically or praisingly, but I took it in a positive way i.e. praisingly. Because its high time now, the good people must stand against terrorism and contribute their bit in fighting terrorism.

    Point number 3 – “Telling Muslims that they have to choose between their Islamic and Indian identities will totally solve the war on terror”. What bullshit observance, dear!! Nope, definitely not, it won’t solve the war on terror, but by at least making them aware of the nefarious intents of the bad people and encouraging the good people to stand against terrorism, will surely add to the minimization of it.

    Point number 5 – The movie does not “continually justifies the use of paramilitary forces to achieve justice”. Actually, the movie emphasises on how to take actions on the cold blooded murderers, who doesn’t care about the innocent ones before killing them. If terrorists are cold blooded then there ought to be a cold blodded cell too to combat them.

    And if the anti-terrorist cells go according to your kind-hearted way of busting them, then wohoo! Congrats! We will definitely someday succeed in ending terrorism. Isn’t it? (Bullshit -_-)

    “…that some of the suspects they are pursuing might be innocent…”
    Well, Ajay and co knew that Taufeeq was not innocent, as the engineering boy informed him about his nefarious intents. And in some of the cases we don’t have enough evidence or official confirmation that a particular guy is bad, but everyone is aware of their maliciousness, and in this case the anti-terrorist cells must opt this brutal way only to stop further bombing of innocent people at the right time.

    PS – I think you have been heavily mind washed by some terrorist apologist having excellent oratory skills. I would suggest you go get a life.

    1. Avik

      Yes.. And both u and the author are sharing opinions not reviews. Sorry.. True neutral needed here..

  3. Avik

    I guess we all see things in a way our subconscious wants to see.. What we see is a reflection of us.. So we can either choose to take the positives from a movie (Yes, any movie! Even controversial ones) or stay back with trolling and making Stark inferences of a word of art. If the poet said “the sky is blue” he probably meant those exact words and not any deeper inference. Our habit to try and dig out other innate meanings in strait forward things harm ourselves and our positivity. It is negativity that creates fractures. Let’s never choose to give into that and see only good things in all.. Oh by the way.. Your review was not a review.. It was a story breakdown and deserved atleast a spoiler alert for the sake of people planning to watch it anyways. Maybe in a review next time, you could talk about the direction, acting, humor and pace of the movie.

    1. Avik

      And I am typing from my mobile. So please forgive my typos.. “work of art”, “straight”.. Arrigatou Gozaimasu..

  4. Poornima

    Pseudo intellectuals. No wonder we are in such a sad state of affairs.

  5. bhuwan

    Any movie that tries to justify covert operations in the name of national interest and/or general global interest is conveying the wrong message. These units will eventually (if successful) play both sides of any conflicts and work in their own selfish interest. We have seen that with many other organisations involved in similar activities. I agree with the author that patriotism is used by many to justify a lot of wrong doings. Sad really 🙁

More from Karthik Shankar

Similar Posts

By Aditya Jaiswal

By Nupur J

By Shareerspeak

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below