By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | May 11, 2018

Rating: 3.5 / 5


The essence: Raazi is a study in the growth of Alia Bhatt as an actor. In an intense, complex role, Alia rides the storm with impeccable calm, juxtaposing her diverse roles as a daughter, wife and mother minus the evil intent, with brilliance. Vicky Kaushal unwraps a beautiful performance giving his character the perfect hue.

Director Meghna Gulzar brings to life an espionage thriller, without the digitalized fight sequences that have bodies flying in the air whilst the hero escapes impossible situations ‘just like that’. We have been fed on plenty of those stylized ‘adrenaline rush’ fight sequences. In Raazi, Meghna unravels a plot minus the above-mentioned fights, but which still has your heart skipping a beat or two.

The sequences are as intense and the danger palpable, yet, it is all dealt with in a manner unknown on screen. Probably, this has do to with the central character Sehmat Khan, an Indian spy, married to an army officer in Pakistan, but whose whole purpose was to send important information back to ‘base’ to the Intelligence department. The movie is based on the novel Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka.

Hidayat (Rajit Kapoor), Sehmat’s (Alia Bhatt) father has established a strong bond with Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma) in Pakistan. In reality, Hidayat is a spy who was inducted by his father. He is now detected with lung cancer and before he can die, he inducts his young college-going daughter into the Intelligence Department after she is Raazi (shows willingness) to take on the job to help her country. Hidayat has already agreed to have her married to Brigadier Syed’s youngest son Iqbal (Vicky Kaushal)—a perfect setting to let in a spy. The plot is set against the 1971 Indo-Pak tensions.

Raazi is a study in the growth of Alia Bhatt as an actor. In an intense, complex role, Alia rides the storm with impeccable calm, juxtaposing her diverse roles as a daughter, wife and mother minus the evil intent, with brilliance. Her love for her husband is real; but her love for her motherland comes first. Snuffing out a life is not what she wants to do, but when up against the wall, she will not wither. Soft, lovable, shy and yet focused: Alia brings Sehmat to life and also her sacrifices for her country.

Throughout the film, Sehmat has you invested in her life, right from the time she is shown as this carefree girl in college. She is the central character that drives the movie, without taking centre stage. And although all the characters are well-etched, she somehow manages to suck you into the vortex of her emotions. Unknown to the viewer, a wonderful love story unravels itself right in the midst of this maelstrom.

Vicky Kaushal as Iqbal, married to Sehmat shines throughout in his role as a husband who dotes on his wife, yet will not overpower her with his affection. Every time he is around Sehmat you can see ‘feel’ the love he has for Sehmat; Every scene they are in, puts a dagger in your heart because you know what he does not and Sehmat is somewhere caught on this tightrope! Without straining too hard, like Alia, Vicky too unwraps a beautiful performance.  He gives his character the perfect hue, and like Sehmat, for him too his country comes first.

Arif Zakaria, Amruta Khanwilkar, Jaideep Ahlawat, Rajit Kapoor, and Shishir Sharma all throw their weight behind the plot to make Raazi an interesting, nail-biting affair. Soni Razdan, Alia’s real life mother, plays her screen mother and hats off to Meghna for not playing to the gallery but keeping the scenes between them subtle and effective.

Raazi celebrates unsung heroes in India’s war; Sehmat is one of them. A huge plus here is that Meghna could have had the audience stand up in attention towards the end by having the National Anthem played; she stays away from rhetoric. On the flip side, Meghna executes some scenes which a spy would be ultra-careful about; like sending messages to India from the bathroom or moving around the house in a suspicious manner and not getting caught!

Producer: Vineet Jain, Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar, Apoorva Mehta
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Star Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Jaideep Alhawat, Rajit Kapoor, Shishir Sharma, Soni Razdan

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