Raazi: A spy story told in a sensitive way

Courtesy: Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions
Courtesy: Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions

What do you do, when choice you make lead you into traumatic emotional conflicts? What do you do, when you find yourself robbed of humanity in the course of the war you’re waging for your country? What do you do when pursuing your goal, you come face to face with the brutal choices of ‘kill or die’ and stark duplicity of your life? Raazi is not only an extraordinary spy tale full of thrills and intrigues but also examines the idea of patriotism and war from a human stand point.

Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapoor) is a dedicated IB agent very proud of his family tradition of serving the country. When he comes to know that he is terminally ill, he proposes that his daughter should take forward his work particularly when tension is mounting between India & Pakistan before the 1971 war. The daughter Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) though not a professional spy, agrees to the idea of getting married into a high ranking army family of Pakistan to effectively carry out the intelligence activities. Raazi is a gripping spy story in war times full of psychological excitement and edge of the seat moments. The film is able supported by good music and as usual, beautiful and magical poetry by Gulzar Sahab.

What sets the film apart however, is the subtle way in which it weaves the story with themes of patriotism and war and the ethical -emotional conflicts that come with it. Meghna Gulzar has made Raazi, with finer sensibilities as the story is told in a refreshingly non-clichéd way. It doesn’t for example demonizes Pakistan or even those who are serving in its army but at the same time captures the feeling of unease and dislike the protagonist has when she hears anti-India talk or sees anti- India posters.

The film focusses on the mental aspect of the thriller genre rather than having the usual fight and chase sequences or violence and gore that goes with a thriller. It culminates into a near psychological breakdown of Sehmat as she finds herself dehumanized and full of remorse even while she is just carrying out her patriotic duties and doing what is necessary in a war like situation. This I find is the most important thought movie provokes – can you ignore your basic humanity for the love and concern for your country and the wars you wage for it? And if yes, then at what cost? When her trainer Khalid Mir (Jaideep Ahlawat) ask Sehmat why would she have problem in killing someone if it becomes necessary, she asks “problem nahi honi chahiye kya?” The question has always been relevant and is more so when we see instances of chest-thumping jingoism all around us.

IAS Officer, Secretary to Government of Gujarat. Municipal Commissioner, Vadodara.

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