After the thought-provoking Talwar dealing with the Arushi murder case, director Meghna Gulzar this time decides to serve a taut and racy spy-thriller based on Harinder Sikka’s novel ‘Calling Sehmat’. It is a fictionalized account of a real-life story of a young 20-year old Indian Muslim girl who becomes a spy in Pakistan for the Indian Intelligence agency.
From the time of its announcement, Raazi had generated a lot of buzz regarding its intriguing plot, the brilliant cast and of course the very talented director Meghna Gulzar. And yes! The movie lives up to all the expectations of the buzz as well as those generated by the first poster and the riveting trailer.
The movie is a period film set in 1971, when the Indian Intelligence suspects of some surprise attack being planned by Pakistan but they do not have any idea about the nature of this attack. A young Kashmiri girl Sehmat decides to undertake this risk for the sake of her country for she feels the risk is no more than what the soldiers face when going on the battlefield. After all she reasons she would just be following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather for the same patriotic blood runs in her veins too!
A plan is hatched and Sehmat is married off to the son of a top Pakistani official so that she can be in the heart of the things and pass on crucial information as and when she can about this secret attack. As time is an essential factor here, she is sent off with only some basic training of a few months and is warned of the risks involved if caught. Her mentor advises that her gut instincts would be the main thing for her to depend on especially in case of any emergency…
The movie gets into the main plot right away from the first scene as we are sucked into the whirlpool of excitement and suspense and become part of Sehmat’s daring and dangerous journey. What happens to her once she enters the household as their youngest daughter-in-law? What is the equation she establishes with her husband and other members of the family? Is she able to succeed in this daunting and demanding task? What are the unforeseen circumstances she faces and is she able to overcome them? What was the attack being planned? What happens to her in the end? All these questions keep us engaged for the 2 hours and 20 minutes of the running time of the film as the interesting events unfold on screen one after the other.
Saying anything beyond this would spoil the fun for those planning to watch…
Superbly directed and tautly scripted the film is really worth a watch for its unique plot and excellent performances from the entire cast. Cinematography is top-class and the Kashmir valley has been captured in all its beauty. Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is also perfect in keeping with the story. The ‘bidaai’ song during the wedding and the patriotic song are really well composed and pleasant to hear.
It has been a long time since Bollywood has attempted a spy thriller and this one has a female protagonist playing the pivotal role which makes it all the more special. Youngster Alia Bhatt being one of the finest actresses to have entered the industry does a very fine job in the film. As Sehmat she is fragile and vulnerable yet possesses a steely determination to accomplish the task she has undertaken. She brings to life this character in her own unique way that leaves a lasting impact. Director Meghna Gulzar had mentioned that she had wanted only Alia to play the role and the actress has indeed lived up to her director’s faith in her.
Vicky Kaushal, the talented young actor of Masaan, Raman Raghav and Love per Square Foot is well cast and comes up with a restrained performance as Sehmat’s husband. The supporting cast of ace actors like Jaideep Ahlawat, Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapur, Arif Zakaria are all top class and come up with very natural performances which takes the film several notches higher. It was nice to see Soni Razdan after a long time though she hardly has much role. She just agreed to do the role as she wanted to be part of this super film and also to play Alia’s mom in reel-life too!
A lot of care has been taken to make the setting authentic. As I have not read the book on which it is based, I cannot comment how true to the book the film is but the cinematic version is very good. Sehmat’s story certainly pays tribute to the valour and commitment of such unsung agents who always remain in the background and remain unknown and unnamed for their patriotism and courage. Such a movie is very important in today’s times and to have a young and popular heroine playing the role is inspiring and motivating.
Three Cheers to Meghna Gulzar and Alia Bhatt for getting us acquainted with Sehmat’s life and patriotism! This film is definitely a must-watch for the commendable work by these two ladies!