This film is an espionage drama, not thriller - as it's main focus is to unravel the emotional journey of a 20 year old young woman, Sehmat (Alia Bhatt), a rather raw, semi-trained recruit for the Indian side wanting to be prepared in case of any unexpected trouble from Pakistan during the unfortunate events that eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Nonetheless, above all the temporary distractions is Sehwat's love for her country and the instinct to protect it at all costs, even her loved ones. The trailer of the flick introduced us to the courageous Sehmat, for whom nothing matters than her country. Set in the backdrop of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, Raazi is all about Alia's terrific performance. Apart from Ahlawat's superbly portrayed Mir, Kaushal emerges as the only character who leaves a mark in a movie dedicated to Alia Bhatt's strengths and screen presence. Her father, Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapoor), a Kashmiri Indian intelligence agent assigns her to a unsafe mission. She shows us the different side of the popular image of Pakistan that they rarely speak English and other things because here Sehmat's husband Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal) listens to jazz and speaks English fluently. For her very first mission she is required to become the devoted daughter-in-law of a top Pakistani army officer. As a dutiful daughter, she can do little but surrender to his passion and patriotism and follow the path he has so planned for her. It's a layered play of interpersonal relationships. 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 Officer's home. The brigadier's house is also the venue for afternoon meetings with the other Stepford wives, planning annual days at school, and at one point, she appeals to the army wives' union for help.
As we've come to expect from her, Alia looks the part, playing it perfectly with the way she dresses, her accent and dialect.
Alia Bhatt in a still from "Raazi". Calling her fabulous will sure be an understatement.
Alia skillfully embraces Sehmat's vulnerable yet powerful and determined character. She assures you that no one in the narrative let you down. Her styling in exquisite shades of pastels and chiffons (Maxima Basu Golani) add to the frail, feminine Sehmat who makes an unlikely spy.
Bhavani Iyer and Meghna Gulzar's detailed screenplay slowly grows on us.
With excellent production values, Jay I. Patel's cinematography captures the performances and the era to perfection. In Raazi, Iqbal is humanised to a greater degree, as are other members of his family, so that Sehmat's betrayal acquires a few more layers. Syed, Iqbal and the latter's elder brother Mehboob (Ashwath Bhatt) are all members of the Pakistani military force for whom also "mulq" (nation) is above all. Jaideep Alhawat as the tough Khaled is superb.
She has put together a ideal ensemble cast in Rajit Kapur as the father and Soni Razdan as the mother, who has limited screen time but a strong role. Meghna Gulzar has definitely grown more assured as a director. After the film when you walk out of the movie hall, the story stays with you and you think of the unsung heroes and why they do what they do. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the film stars Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Jaideep Ahlawat.
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