‘Raazi’ is set in the backdrop of the Indo- Pak war of 1971.
The backdrop: The situation was intense during the Indo Pak war of 1971. The Mukti Bahini (Liberation army) had launched a full blown war for freedom in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). India supported a free Bangladesh and was already fighting Pakistan’s air attacks on the north west frontier. India deployed ships and submarines to the Bay of Bengal to block Pakistan’s entry to Bay of Bengal. Pakistani Submarine PNS Gazi, silently crept into the Bay of Bengal to bomb down India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, and to destroy the naval base at Visakhapatnam.. Indian intelligence received this information from unknown sources within Pakistan, which helped India be vigilant and prepared for the PNS Gazi. PNS Gazi was eventually sunk off the coast of Visakhapatnam.
The film : ‘Raazi’ is based on the true story of a young girl ‘Sehmat’ (Alia Bhatt) who leaves her family in Kashmir and gets married in Pakistan, to continue her father’s work – of sending critical defence information about Pakistan to India. She undergoes rigorous training to work as an undercover spy in Pakistan. Her in-laws hold substantial positions in the Pakistan defence forces and she is instructed to pass on any information she comes across. The movie finely balances patriotism and never attempts to show Pakistan in bad light. In fact, Sehmat’s in-laws in Pakistan are very loving and trust her completely inspite of the fact that she is Indian. The director- Meghna Gulzar has accomplished a fantastic task of delivering a patriotic movie without steering all hatred towards Pakistan.
The script is strong and the movie is thrilling throughout, leaving you on the edge of the seat. There are no over blown action sequences like the other spy- thrillers Bollywood has seen recently. Instead, the movie banks on the drama created out of intense moments when Sehmat embarks on her mission. The film fares well as a period film and the production team has done a really good job of recreating the Pakistan of the 70s.
Sehmat is caught between family and country, where on one side is the loving Pakistani family that has accepted her whole heartedly and on the other hand is her country India. She chooses to uphold her love for her country India, even if it means compromising the lives of her in-laws. Alia Bhatt carries the role of Sehmat well on her shoulder, switching easily from the naive newly-wed bride to the trained undercover spy. She surely has grown as an actor and Raazi is a feather on her cap. Vicky Kaushal plays the role of Iqbal Sehmat’s affectionate husband fabulously. It is delightful to watch Soni Razdan , the real life mother of Alia Bhatt, also play her reel-life mother in the movie. Rajit Kapur plays a short but impactful role of Hidayat Khan, Sehmat’s father.
Shankar Ehsan Loy has composed the music while Gulzar has penned the songs. The song Dilbaro borrows the introductory lines from Kashmiri folk, fused beautifully with Gulzars verses and is well placed in the movie when the bride leaves her home to go to an unknown land. The song ‘Ae Watan’ rings in your ears much after you have left the movie hall. Arijit and Sunidhi have rendered the song beautifully. It is after a long time that we have got such a fantastic patriotic song in a movie; parallels can easily be drawn with A.R Rahman’s ‘Yeh Jo Des Hi Mera’ from the movie ‘Swades’.
The Verdict: Raazi is a must watch for its amazing direction, thrilling script and the awesome performances. It is surely one of the best hindi films so far in 2018.
CultureBowl rating: 4 out of 5.