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Hidayat Khan is the son of an Indian freedom fighter and agent posing as an informant for the Pakistani government. He wishes to make his 20-year-old daughter Sehmat an agent and continue the family tradition of being in service to the country. Sehmat leaves college. She is hastily trained by senior RAW officer Khalid Mir. Her father uses his friendship with Brigadier Syed of the Pakistan Army to get Sehmat married to his son, Iqbal Syed, a military officer. Sehmat quickly settles into her married life, she falls in love with Iqbal. But everything starts to complicated.Written by
A tight no-nonsense thriller with excellent acting
Raazi does what very few Bollywood movies do right. It pulls off a tight script with good acting, and a realistic believable storyline that leaves you on the edge of your seat for two hours. The film also manages to maintain a tight pace while building up towards an impactful climax. In particular, I think three things made it unforgettable:
Firstly, the acting was on point, and made the movie what it turned out to be. Alia Bhatt is turning out to be an absolute genius, and has come a long way from her 'student of the year' days. There are very few in her peer-group that can do justice to these kinds of roles. Vicky Kaushal was good as the beguiled husband, and his restrained yet emotional male character (supporting a powerful female lead) is a Bollywood rarity, and was thoroughly enjoyable. The others are on point too, with minor actors like Jaideep Ahlawat and Rajit Kapoor delivering strong performances.
Secondly, the movie turned out to be tight and on point, with no melodramatic displays of emotion or sappy songs. The good old premises of a bride departing to her husband's household for (presumably) good, the arranged marriage with a virtually unknown man, and eventual marriage consummation were all present, in theory. These are all typically perfect opportunities to inject unnecessary bridal parting songs, lengthy wedding song and dance sequences (boy's side, girl's side, etc.) and the worst of all - a song balancing sleaze with "Indian culture" (read: censor board mandated restraint) that plays when the marriage is consummated (this is typically a couple kissing and rolling around in a bed, carefully clothing their privates with velvet or satin sheets). But Raazi eliminates all of this fluff and more, leaving you wishing more movies would do away with the crap in favor of keeping the pace of the plot.
Lastly, and most importantly, Raazi does justice to the complexity of the India-Pakistan conflict. The countries have a shared history which makes the war painfully more unique (e.g. Abdul, the oldest and most faithful caretaker in the Pakistani household is of Indian origin). The movie takes no sides, and shows you that humanity and ruthlessness exist on both sides. This is a significant departure from the patriotic films of yesteryear - we are habituated to seeing a good vs evil theme, and having Pakistanis depicted as soulless warmongers. And so, you are simply not prepared to empathize with Iqbal's (Vicky Kaushal's) gentle persona, and when you do, it his vulnerable humanity hits you like a truck. Conversely, the hardened Indian intelligence agent Mir is many things during the movie, but 'human' he is not.
I walked away from the theater understanding better the nature of such wars, and that the real conflict is not over Kashmir, or between two sides, or between ideologies. The real conflict is always fought within the human heart: between the ruthless imperatives of duty, and the very human urges of gentleness, mercy and love.
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