We have seen loud and bombastic Gadar where everyone wear their patriotism on their sleeves that are rolled up to kill the enemy. Anyone could have made a similar film with this girl spy married off into an enemy household into a loud film where she chops vegetables with a vengeance and proceeds to chop other family members of the enemy general too. They could have shown her being tied and tortured a la Van Damme. Thankfully Meghna Gulzar does not torture the audience with a film like a typical 'throw coins at the screen' or 'tear your heart and prove you are patriotic' type film.
She makes a film that tells the story of an ordinary girl who chooses to put her life in danger and becomes extraordinary without losing the audience.
The director treats everyone in the film as essential and with respect, does not make the religious and national differences obvious, and even when she is taking sides, does not grind the other to the ground. The director extracts performances from every actor so wonderfully, you come away from this spy thriller fulfilled.
Based on a true story 'Calling Sehmat' written Harinder Sikka, Raazi is the story of a 20 year old Sehmat (Alia Bhatt, truly magnificent) who agrees to continue the work of her father Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapoor, very convincing), a Kashmiri who is spies for India by supplying information to Pakistan. She agrees to undergo training and is then married off into the family of a Pakistani General Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma, brilliantly played!). The general's sons are also in the army. Sehmat is married to the younger son Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal, rather upright and a good foil to the delicate Sehmat), and the older brother Mahmood (Ashwath Bhatt, wonderfully suspicious and yet upright amy officer) is married to Munira (Amruta Khanvilkar, rather lovely). There are also other Pakistani generals and their wives ( Why list the actors? Because they make a wonderful family. And not once are you made to hate them because they are Pakistani.
The tensions between the two countries was very high, what with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) wanting to secede from Pakistan and India helping their 'Mukti Bahini' (freedom fighters). In this situation, it was but natural that the Pakistani army would plot to decimate the Indian counterpart. The story is told so well, you don't hate the enemy at all. But there's Sehmat, the new bride who finds time to quietly find out what's being discussed in the meetings at their home and transmit the information back to India. The situation that Sehmat finds herself in escalates very rapidly and we are afraid for her, we don't want to see her die. We begin to root for her ingenuity and gentleness.
On the Indian side, Jaideep Ahlawat is great as the trainer to Sehmat's spy. The Indian spies in Pakistan (who, alas have small roles are not credited anywhere online, but are brilliant) are the rickshaw chap, the flower seller and the grocery shop man. Roles you would not consider important, but are well acted. Sehmat's mother Teji (Soni Razdan) does not have to say much, but conveys a lot.
The wedding is delicious and we learn to appreciate everyone in the family. The gentleness is conveyed in her relationship with her husband Iqbal so beautifully we forget for a while that she's a spy. The sweet romance between the two of them is something you cannot miss. And he's not shown to be some sex-crazed monster simply because he's the enemy.
Alia Bhatt has proven herself in Udta Punjab but here, she's not just innocent, but spectacularly beautiful (her dress designer should take a bow for making lace edgings of her salwaar kameez and her gorgeous dupattas and the color palette stunning). And she can act (understatement of the year). She leaves everyone in the Bollywood pantheon way behind.
Yes, this could have been a five star movie, except that there are some obvious ploys that could not but be a part of the film. Sehmat's training is predictable as in any underdog training to be hero film. Then there's the suspicious servant Abdul (played by Arif Zakaria) whose actions are predictable. And just to nitpick, Sehmat's last emotional outburst has been added to show off her acting talent. Was just not necessary.
But the film remains an amazing tribute to all the people who sacrificed their lives without needing any kind of acknowledgement. The film is patriotic, but amazingly so. And the story just seeps into your bones - just like the Mere Watan song - and stays with you long after the movie is over.
A beautiful period drama! That is what the movie 'RAAZI' is. Amazing performance by Alia Bhatt and others. The film is... Show more
A beautiful period drama! That is what the movie 'RAAZI' is. Amazing performance by Alia Bhatt and others. The film is so natural that it just seems to glide over. Another feather in the hat of DHARMA PRODUCTIONS. Unlike other patriotic films, this film has a magical impact on us and is very soft and smooth. All in all THUMPS UP to the team of Karan Johar, Megana Gulzar,Alia Bhatt and others!!
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