Director Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi which is based on Harinder Sikka’s book Calling Sehmat is a perfect storytelling package with most required things such as a crisp and on point script, impressive performances, beautiful songs and at last but not least outstanding cinematography.
Raazi is a story of a 20-years-old college going Kashmiri girl, Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) who happens to be a freedom fighter’s granddaughter and daughter of a loyal spy Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapur) for India’s Intelligence services. So, we can understand why she chooses to sacrifice her life for an undercover assignment and the true patriotism is running through her veins and clearly, she can do anything for her country (unlike today’s forced patriotism which we have generally seen in our patriotic Bollywood films or for that matter presently in our country). Finally, according to the plan Shemat turned into the daughter-in-law of a high-rank Pakistan army officer Syed (Shishir Sharma) and bride of his younger son Major Iqbal Syed(Vicky Kaushal).
According to the story, we can say that Sehmat is also a one-woman army in a way but of course, it’s not the same and unreal concept as we have seen in other Bollywood films. A young, soft-hearted and innocent girl begins to train under Khalid Mir (Jaideep Ahlawat) and becomes a very strong (both physically and mentally) and sharp spy for India. The most interesting thing to watch is that the training seems quite real and not like a short-ad-blend with a motivating song.
Talking about acting performances, Alia is outstanding in the whole film. From her Kashmiri accent to the innocence of a 20-year-old to a clear-minded girl who can do anything for her country, even murder anyone. From learning code words to be a strong and tough woman in every situation, she does it all with perfection. In the film, (I am not kidding) I actually like her crying skills as Alia cried a lot but all for a different reason at different stages of her mission and life journey. She perfectly balances the emotions like fear of a young girl, the courage of doing things like murder, love for her husband and family and at last but not least the humanity. Although the film is majorly based on the journey of spy Sehmat, all other characters do justice to their small yet important roles. Vicky Kaushal has some major scenes in the film but he is perfect as always and delivers his part with all honesty. Similarly, it is compulsory to mention names like Shishir Sharma, Jaideep Ahlawat, Soni Razdan (Mother), Rajit Kapur, Arif Zakaria (Abdul) and Amruta Khanvilkar (Munira) because they all are so good in the film and perfectly play their part.
After the film Talvar, writer-director Meghna Gulzar crafted another flawless film with a female protagonist. The screenplay by Meghna Gulzar and Bhavani Iyer is very crisp and to the point and nothing seems to be forced or not required in the movie. Dialogues like “Cigarette Daru kbhi nhi pee lekin shayd Zindagi ke kuch kash Lambe le liye, Khali pet irade nhi bharte”, “Maine Tumse Mohabbat ki hai par Watan ke aage kuch nahi”, ” Jung me sirf Jung maayne rakhti hai- na tum maayne rakhti ho na mein” are some examples of perfect and effortless writing. In the movie, the director not even tries to prove who was right and wrong during 1971 war as the filmmakers generally do in their films. She not even majorly focus on the reason for war and just tell us about the journey and experience of a spy or agent in the simplest and honest way. Interestingly in the film, including Sehmat’s husband Iqbal and rest of her in-law’s family are good and decent people as filmmaker try to convey the message that not the Pakistani or Hindustanis are bad people but the war which turns everything in hatred and bloodshed.
The cinematography by Jay I Patel added value to the heart-stopping and spy thriller. From Kashmir’s beautiful wadiya to highlighting the stress level and thrill in the story, Patel incredibly has done his job. Apart from strong writing and camera work, the perfect music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and lyrics by the legendary Gulzar help us to connect with every single emotion of the story. For example, beautiful and emotional song Dilbaro picturised on a bidai scene, Ae Watan song is perfectly placed in the film where everyone else singing the song for their “Mulk” Pakistan and Sehmat is singing and feeling the song for her “Watan” Hindustan at the same place. And lastly the title track Raazi also adds some emotions and value to the film.
Raazi is a balanced blend of patriotism and humanity which is everything at present we need to watch in theatres. In the period of jingoism, you should watch this India-Pakistan story by Meghna Gulzar’s lens which is another side of the story we talk less about. This woman-centric film is definitely worth watching this weekend.
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