– Yaser Khan
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapoor, Jaideep Ahlawat, Soni Razdan, Amruta Khanvilkar, Shishir Sharma
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Alia Bhatt essays the role for Sehmat extracted from Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat, which talks about the true story of a Kashmiri girl married to a Pakistani soldier in order to extract information for Indian Intelligence Bureau during the 1971 tensions. Meghna Gulzar who directed ‘Talwar’ brings this extraordinary story to the forefront.
Story: The story commences Hidayat Khan (played by Rajit Kapoor) on his visit to Pakistan where he gives his friend brigadier Parveez Syed (played by Shishir Sharma) a scoop on the ex-Pakistani army men who have exiled themselves to India for support, gaining his trust, he turns to his homeland Kashmir in India and decides to call his 20-year-old Sehmat (played by Alia Bhatt) back from Delhi where she’s completing her education, to take over his family tradition of serving India as a Spy. He decides to get her married off to Parveez Syed’s youngest son Iqbal (played by Vicky Kaushal). Sehmat surrenders to her father’s demands and soon moves to Pakistan. There she set to put all her training to action which she’s learnt under the guidance of Hamid Mir (played by Jaideep Ahlawat), from the Intelligence Bureau of India, for a month before her marriage. Will Sehmat be successful in decoding the secret plans of Kashmir against India in their war to attain East Pakistan (presently Bangladesh)? To what extend will Sehmat go in helping her country out? Will Sehmat be able retain her true identity in a foreign land? That’s what the film sets to find out!
Alia Bhatt is the real star of the film. She starts as clumsy, innocent and naive college student with a sharp memory and then transforms into a confident, guilty yet competent informant, who is dedicated to serving her country. She’s delivered her career’s best with this film. Director Meghna Gulzar didn’t want anyone else by her and you can truly see why.
Vicky Kaushal’s character brings positivity into the otherwise devilish neighbour side. He’s a gentleman, every woman would want her husband to be. His dedication towards his country seems legit and will not evoke hatred in anyway. His presence is like a breathe of fresh air.
Jaideep Ahlawat is a supremely talented actor who gets his sue with this film as the guide and coach for Alia’s character. His character gives you an insight of what goes behind the scenes to these successful stories of our country’s heroes.
Rajit Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Shishir Sharma keeps you haunted with his controlled expressions. The other supporting cast like Soni Razdan, Amruta Khanvilkar are appropriately cast and leave their individual marks.
Music and Dialogues: The music is given by Shankar Ehsaan Loy and it has a 70s touch to it. While you may hum all the songs from the OST, it’s Dilbaro and Ae Watan which steal your heart. Both the songs fill you with sentiments. Meghna Gulzar has written the dialogues of her film and the essence of Urdu is its base, since Muslim families are being dealt on both ends. It would have nice to have some Kashmiri influence too but for actors like Alia and Vicky to mouth the Urdu dialect was a welcome change. The film is filled with punch lines and Dialogues which’ll move you.
Direction: Meghna Gulzar has a winner at her hands with such an emotionally engaging patriotic film and an incredible star cast to back up her movie. It’s actually quite brave of her to have brought an unusual story of patriotism to the forefront. Previous films based on the idea of nationalism have always been themed around the actions of army men, but for a woman to lead a nationalistic film and have the audiences thrilled throughout is refreshing. There’s one particular scene when you nearly close your eyes and anticipate a safe escape for Sehmat from a ‘cat caught the mouse’ situation. However, it is the emotional factor in the film that deserves to be applauded. The director has given ample space, time and thought in showcasing the inner turmoil of Sehmat. You might have a complain with the extreme transition of Sehmat from an innocent girl to a sharp spy, the sequence doesn’t get much justification but the vulnerability in Alia’s eyes till the end, make up for it.
Raazi’s screenplay is by Bhavani Iyer and Meghna Gulzar, it flows smoothly with each and every character getting their space and the thrill increases as the film inches towards climax. Raazi serves as a true example of what the youth of today need to learn about patriotism and nationalism, it’s not about hate mongering, chest thumping and slogan shouting, it’s about your internal sentiments which you envisage to do the right thing for your country.
Cinespeaks Verdict: Raazi is an important film that showcases the fact that patriotism is above your religion, caste and individual situation. Watch this film to appreciate Alia Bhatt’s career best performance and the powerful work done by the supporting cast. If emotionally connecting thrillers are your thing, then Raazi’s tickets are what you’ve got to be booking for this week. Cinespeaks gives ‘Raazi’ 3.5 out of 5 stars.