Critic’s RatingÂ 4/5
Cast: Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Jaideep Ahlawat, Rajit Kapur, Shishir Sharma, Arif Zakaria, Soni Razdan
Direction: Meghna Gulzar
Genre: Espionage-Thriller, Drama
Duration: 2 hours, 14 minutes
Itâ€™s the 70s. A timid-Kashmiri girl Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhatt) is taught by her father, Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapur) that the nation must always come before self.Â She is then dispatched by him to `spyâ€™ on Pakistan who as we know, has never wanted any good for India.
On a routine day, a mild-natured Sehmat is literally plucked off her Delhi University campus and summoned to Srinagar by her father Hidayat, who is a patriotic Indian before all else.Â At home, she is informed by Hidayat that he is terminally-ill and before he passes, he wants her to marry into a Pakistani Intelligence Officerâ€™s home. With her guile, charm and some sharp-training from our Indian intelligence, she must thwart the neighbouring country’s evil plans.
A dramatized and fictionalized version of Harinder Sikkaâ€™s novel Calling Sehmat, Meghna Gulzarâ€™s Raazi will have you rooting for it throughout.Â Meghnaâ€™s detailed characterisation of each of the prominent players and her treatment of the spy subject (that leans more towards the emotional and less towards the explosive), makes this thriller a complete treat. The way Sehmat blends into her husband Iqbalâ€™s(Vicky Kaushal) family and becomes part of their daily existence is handled with such finesse. And yet, this baby-faced spy doesnâ€™t lose sight of her mission for even a second. As you watch Sehmat undercover, your own heart is often in your mouth because you donâ€™t want her to get caught! I donâ€™t know how many patriotic movies have had this kind of impact on the viewer, but Raazi has you all mushy and determined to protect your country. For me it worked than most war-dramas.
Sehmatâ€™s love-track with Iqbal, her interpersonal relationship with her in-laws, all of it are temporary distractions. You will take pride in the fact that it is her intelligence which prevented INS Vikrant from falling prey to the Ghazi Attacks.Her goal to stay faithful to India, her mission to ‘finishâ€™ the enemy, has you lauding her bravery. The tears flowing down your cheeks at the end of the film are bitter-sweet; you want to weep for Sehmatâ€™s sacrifice, but at the same time you want to see your country protected at all costs. It’s the soldier’s dilemma which each of us must remind ourselves.
Composer trio-Shankar, Ehsaan-Loy and top-gun lyricist Gulzar give you music that keeps replaying in your head. Unwittingly you are humming Ae Watan, AeÂ Watan, on the drive back home.
The film passes muster on all technical aspects but if those donâ€™t get listed here, it is only because the performances are so good.Â Alia, who has shown her mettle in Highway and Udta Punjab, takes her Sehmat, several notches higher. She will be taking home several awards the next season. Vicky is the correct foil for his lovely wife. The youngsters are also complemented by competent acting from Brigadier Parvez Syed (Shishir Sharma), the Pakistani Intelligence officer, whose world Sehmat destroys. Special mentions are reserved for Khalid Mir (Jaideep Ahlawat), the man who trains the spy and Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapur), who doesnâ€™t flinch when sacrificing a daughter. It is delightful to see Soni Razdan, Aliaâ€™s real mother returns to the screen as Aliaâ€™s reel mother. And even just-a-solo-expression-on-his-face, Abdul (Arif Zakaria) evokes emotion.
DO NOT MISS RAAZI