Rating: 4* / 5*
Duration: 2 hr 20 mnt
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Producer: Karan Johar, Vineet Jain, Priti Shahani
Screenplay: Meghna Gular & Bhavani Iyer
Star Cast: Aliya Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapoor, Shishir Sharma, Jaideep Ahlawat, Aman Vasishth, Ashwath Bhatt, Arif Zakaria
Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
The trailers for Raazi were very promising. A tale of espionage, set against the troubled backdrop of the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and a commoner spy played by Alia Bhatt- we were quite hopeful of these two facets coming together successfully. After watching the movie, we found out that this arrangement works better than expected. Raazi works off a tight script and stellar performances to deliver a compelling experience. Even if you are not into the whole patriotic angle of things, Raazi would still leave you impressed and satiated.
Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) is all slated to be married off into one of Pakistan’s powerful military families to plant her as a spy. A girl of 19, she knows little of espionage, even if her patriotic inclinations are very well established, thanks to her father being a double agent. The story shines through because even if Pakistan is shown as the universal enemy, the people themselves are real and relatable and not evil masters grinning from the corner of their mouths. Sehmat’s husband (Vicky Kaushal) is shown to be a true gentleman and that can leave you feeling sorry for him, no matter how hard you want team Pak to lose. The story also never uses sleek scenes or over-the-top dialogue to convey any intensity. The premise of a young girl making tough choices to keep her cover intact is strong enough to loft the seriousness up at all times. If it is true espionage you are looking for, without the high-flying action and irritatingly clichéd dialogues, Raazi will work for you.
Screenplay and Direction
Meghna Gulzar had us keeping high expectations, thanks to Talwar. The screenplay by her and Bhavani Iyer flows smoothly and even though the prelude-less start is right in the thick of things, the scenes grip you quickly enough. The scenes are mainly focused on Sehmat’s character while the others jump in and out to contribute to the movement of the plot. Nothing appears too rushed or languid and the pace is a near-perfect one for this kind of storytelling.
Performances and Dialogue
Alia Bhatt is going to remember for a long time for her work in Raazi. She captures every little detail of the character with great depth. Right from chasing squirrels in Delhi University to hiding important files from her father-in-law’s desk, she grows smoothly into the character. Her troubles with taking tough decisions are played out wonderfully by her. Kudos to the script as well, which truly show her as vulnerable instead of delivering cheeky dialogues justifying brutality in the name of patriotism. Vicky Kaushal is a delight as well, who is very convincing as the conflicted husband who understands that her wife belongs to a different culture. The other cast in Shishir Sharma and Jaideep Ahlawat also execute their roles effectively.
We were happy to see the background score being very apt and controlled in the intense scenes. No dramatic percussion or lazy pianos chime in the background. The silence in many scenes makes up for the thrill, effectively. The songs come in at beautiful points in the movie. From Arijit Sing’s fantastic, Ae Watan to Harshdeep Kaur’s Dilbaro, the songs blend in and accentuate the plot well.
Raazi is a movie that should clearly not be missed. Even though it stars a female lead and with all the women empowerment themes going on, the movie stays out of such temptations and stays true to the plot of espionage amidst growing Indo-Pak tensions. Alia Bhatt is brilliant and you will quickly find yourself investing in her plans and dreams. A primer into practical espionage, a score of brilliant performances and an inspiring yet poignant story- what more could one ask for?