A contriving spy-thriller that praises the true sacrifice of an unsung war hero

Meghna Gulzar directed 'Raazi' is a gripping espionage spy-thriller based on Harinder Sikka's novel 'Calling Sehmat' that unwinds the unbelievable true story of a Kashmiri woman married to a Pakistani Army Officer with an aim to provide Indian Military Intelligence with valuable information during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. Revolving around the central character of Sehmat played by Alia Bhat who is a 19-year-old student pursuing graduation from the University of Delhi, Alia delivers yet another stellar performance arguably the best of her till date after 'Highway' and 'Udta Punjab'. She essayed this character of a spy with a lot of emotions, seriousness and a heart that beats for her nation.

A father-daughter bonding calls Sehmat off to Kashmir and her on-screen father Rajit Kapoor as Hidayat Khan is naturally remarkable with this role of a dutiful nationalist. Meghna has impressively extolled the natural father-daughter relationship on-screen and this is heartfelt for sure. Sehmat is Raazi to be a spy with an urge of her father who has a tumour discovered in his lungs and she is held with a strong belief of patriotism and some meaningful words passed on from generations to generations 'Watan Ke Liye Kuch Bhi''. It is Shishir Sharma as Brigadier Syed from Pakistan and Hidayat Khan's great old friend since the partition days. Sehmat is married to brigadier's son Iqbal Syed played by Vicky Kaushal a soft-spoken army brat truly gentleman towards his bride Sehmat. After an extreme aggressive role in Raman Raghav, Vicky plays cold this time with not much to offer although with his relatively less screen space he makes an impact with this precise role. Jaideep Ahlawat as Khalid Mir a Military Intelligence officer who trains Sehmat is spot on with his role and crafts his character with a lot of authenticity.

Many thrilling moments to catch up, a gripping narrative in the first half which becomes sentimentally sobbing by the end and the darkness from the soul of Sehmat broken down with her sacrifices is heartfelt. Meghna is a master in interpreting reality and she splendidly mentions the political scenario from the 1971 defeat of East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh and how a spy was a strong source of the valuable impeccable information that took down Pakistan's plan of sinking INS Viraat.

Talking about the song of the film, the very first number 'Dilbaro' composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with the soulful voice of Harshdeep Kaur, is a special number indeed. The meaningful lines are penned down by Gulzar Sahab that blends with the emotional of Bidai counting on as a tribute to this eternal father-daughter relationship. The next one is a Sunidhi Chauhan's song 'Ae Watan' that remains in our head and the innocent narrative of the Pakistani Military school kids singing this patriotic number is such a sweet gesture on its own. You cannot resist leaving the film's end credit scene as Arijit Singh's version of the song that looks like an anthem and sticks you to the seat of the theatre right there. Another Arijit Singh number from the film titled as 'Raazi' which shows Sehmat's training with a lot of determination and this light-hearted melodious number suits the narration. With the soul-soothing composition of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, the title track is performed by Arijit Singh and penned down by Gulzar Sahab. 

A stirring thought-provoking flick that tells the tale of an unsung spy that needs accolades and appreciation for her courageous spirit of Patriotism reflected with a lot of reality. After Talvar, Meghna Gulzar has helmed yet another film with realism and the depths of these major characters whose performances were a joy to watch on-screen. Meghna and Bhavani Iyer's compelling screenplay is what holds the audiences glued to their seats in this 140 minutes long film.

The dialogues are penned down by Meghna Gulzar as well and they are like the key to a treasure's vest and yes they remain a key to our mind and heart as well. Mild understood Urdu words are woven perfectly in this film, making it truly breath-taking. The back-drop of vintage Pakistan post-partition right away from the evergreen Kashmir Valley and humongous bungalow showed as Pakistani military officer residence looks legitimately concrete. The credit goes to the production design team headed by Subrato Chakraborty and Amit Ray. Costume design by Maxima Basu and Bhagyashree Dattatreya Rajurkar has brought perfect appearances in detail whether it is the Kashmiri wedding outfits, the Pakistani Military army uniforms or the Salwaar Suits, Burkha and Pathani's the people of 1971 Pakistan would generally wear. Cinematography by Jay I. Patel is sincerely stunning capturing picturesque locales of Kashmir, INS Virat and the indoor locations blending with the seizing narrative.

We would say Meghna has rocked this fine feature film with whole-hearted devotion and team effort that makes this one simply alluring. We wonder why the makers didn't go for an Independence Day or Republic day release date. Give this a Sureshot watch to get mesmerized by Alia's robust performance striking every right chord of patriotism. A not to be missed kind of film!       

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