Raazi is strong dramatic thriller that unfolds the story of espionage, and it is a must-see movie for one who wants to understand the emotions during the war of India and Pakistan in 1971.The movie is based on the novel Calling Sehmat, written by Harinder Sikka, and inspired by true incidents.
The opening of the movie shows female protagonist Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhatt) as a student at Delhi University. She saves the life of a squirrel, as she prevents it from crushed, an early indication of her sensitive and caring nature. It’s 1971, and Sehmat’s father, Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapoor), wants his daughter to follow in his footsteps and spy for India as he is doing and to continue the family tradition serving the mother country.
Sehmat learns that her father has a deadly tumor, and his last wish is for her to continue the family tradition of being a spy for India. Sehmat agrees to take the job of spying by becoming an informant for the Indian intelligence bureau. For her very first mission she is required to become the devoted daughter-in-law of a top Pakistani army officer. And so the young lady leaves her education at Delhi University and starts training to be a spy; because India first, self later.
Sehmat marries the son of the Pakistani army major general. The son is also an army officer. After getting married, Sehmat easily wins everyone heart and trust in the family except Abdul (Arif Zakaria), the family’s cook. Sehmat successfully and smartly passes crucial and highly senstive information to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which ends up helping helped India win the 1971 war against Pakistan.
Unlike any movie on the relationship between India and Pakistan, Gulzar shows both sides of the story, and that people in Pakistan are sensitive, not cruel. In a scene where Sehmat’s father-in-law talks about the war and destroying India, Sehmat’s husband, Iqbal (Vicky Kaushal), sympathies with her and calms her. Iqbal is humanized, as are other members of his family, so that Sehmat’s betrayal acquires a few more layers.
In the movie, it is shown that it is not easy for an ordinary girl to be successful in espionage while destroying her supportive husband’s home. Gulzar understands those emotions and channels them well. As an obedient daughter, Sehmat does everything for her country, going as far as murder. At the end of the movie, however, when she is back in India from her mission, she discovers she’s returned with a lifelong reminder of her husband, and she must determine whether or not she wants to keep her husband and what he means to her in her life.
Director, Meghana Gulzar depicts with Raazi that there is a line between the nationalism and patriotism. The movie does not have any loud and heavy dialogues to show one’s love for her country. It also doesn’t have many war scenes, for those who are sensitive to this type of setting. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is delightful. And the movie does justice to the 70’s era scene with carefully chosen details to clothes and art. Raazi is not only an excellent movie, it is also a tribute to the unsung heroes of India.