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RAAZI - Confidently led by Alia, but full of cinematic liberties. (Review by Bobby Sing)
12 May, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases

Based on a real life story, fictionalized by Harinder Singh Sikka in his novel CALLING SEHMAT (published in 2008), RAAZI was promoted as an ‘unknown true story’ of the 1971 war. But the plot is not entirely a novel one, as it was earlier seen in Anil Sharma’s THE HERO: Love story of a spy (2003) and Chetan Anand’s HINDUSTAN KI KASAM (1973), which interestingly also revolved around 1971 war.

As a film based on spy operations and that too of an Indian girl married with a military officer in Pakistan, RAAZI begins on an impressive note and remains a pleasantly engaging film till the girl -Alia reaches Pakistan in her husband’s home. Though here we yet again see the clichéd sequence of training being given to Alia along with an upbeat song, the film still remains fresh in its presentation, further raising the expectations from the talented team.
 
Sadly the satisfaction remains only partial, particularly in my case to be honest, as I was not able to accept the oversized major loopholes, especially in a real-life inspired spy-film talking about India and Pakistan.
 
But keeping the criticism for the last, would first like to mention its Notable MERITS.
 
RAAZI thankfully remains a film made on an emotional story of a spy, which is not interested in promoting any kind of HATE for the people living across the border. It talks about families with members residing in both the countries and they don’t consider the other as ‘enemy’ to be very specific. The film easily could have played the jingoism card with some loud chest-thumping dialogues or long provoking speeches as just another commercial patriotic film (like GADAR, BABY or more). But Meghna Gulzar deliberately chooses to avoid that, as a thoughtful, responsible director with no hidden intentions.
 
The veteran Gulzar once again scores with his meaningful lyrics inserted just at the right moments. But how I wish I could say the same for the compositions selected for the words by the ‘once outstanding’ Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
 
(And this is the one I loved the most) - An Indian girl gets married to a Pakistani military officer. But not even a single person (in Pakistan) mentions the fact in his or her conversations as ‘a hurting taunt’. In fact they never seem to be concerned about the same displaying a lovable understanding (particularly in the party scene when Alia is being introduced to all the key personalities).
 
And this, along with the two points mentioned above is certainly worth a big star in the film's overall ratings deserving a special mention.
 
The production and costume department adds the much needed authenticity to the project as a period film and so does cinematography and background score enhancing its overall impact on the viewer.
 
But above all, what actually keeps you glued to the screen are the performances confidently led by Alia Bhatt, who once again reminds us, why she is rightly considered as the most talented young girl in the present scenario. A name that ends all loud debates for or against ‘Nepotism‘, Alia delivers yet another impressive performance of her career, though not as terrific as seen in the much more realistic HIGHWAY. And if truth be told, the conceptual limitations of RAAZI have a lot to do with this conclusion giving you the actual picture.
 
The supporting cast adds its own charm in the early part of the film featuring Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapur, Soni Razdan, Jaideep Ahlawat and Shishir Sharma playing the key roles. Surprisingly, where Vicky Kaushal remains unable to make any major impact, its Arif Zakaria who superbly contributes to the much required tension on screen (despite missing any logical reasoning)
 
Coming to the BIG Downers (*Mild Spoilers Ahead)
 
RAAZI keeps progressing like a well-made and noble-intentioned film till the early 30 minutes or so. However the moment it reaches Pakistan, the entire narration strangely slips into an amazingly convenient mode wherein the spy-girl keeps doing her things without any interruptions at all, as if there are all blind people living in the house, not able (or willing) to see her suspicious acts. And mind you here we are talking about a big mansion, one of the most important and well-guarded houses of Pakistan surrounded by security persons and servants actively performing their daily duties.
 
In fact Alia’s very first act of setting up a sort of antenna at the top of the house with rounds of long metallic wires going from one pole to another, coming right from the roof into her bathroom (which never gets caught by anyone) raises serious questions on the execution by the talented writer-director. Moreover the girl brings along the big bunch of metallic wire and an entire communication system packed in a suitcase from India as her personal stuff, which never gets checked by even the mother-in-law, which ironically used to be the tradition in both India and Pakistan in those gone decades (looking into what the girl has brought in from her parents home).
 
Anyway, the film keeps on progressing with many more conveniently written and conceived sequences which include the girl snooping around in other family member’s rooms (who are military officers) with no problem at all, clicking pictures, checking files, getting key-images and more, without getting noticed even once. Besides, I also found Alia too quick in giving an expression of relief whenever she makes a narrow escape, without confirming it all in a quite bizarre manner.
 
Interestingly the only person who looks at her with suspicion in the entire house is Arif Zakaria and the film never cares to explain why he suspects the newly wed coming from India, from the very first day onwards, even when he has never had any detailed dialogue with her except the daily routine conversations.
 
Personally the above drawbacks were still acceptable as cinematic liberties taken by the writer-director. But I frankly couldn’t digest any of its onscreen proceedings further when even cold blooded murders started happening so easily, without being seriously questioned by anyone at all, neither by the family members nor the concerned higher authorities...... even when it happened to be the case of a highly suspicious murder of an officer, who gets instantly killed by some poison injected into his body through a pointed instrument. Strangely no one finds anything suspicious in his sudden death and no further investigations are made in a highly questionable and hushed up manner forgetting the simple logic.
 
But that is not all, as I was further shocked to see the way Indian intelligence people were shown suddenly coming to Pakistan (without any issue as such), successfully killing the Pakistani officers by bombing in a public place and then easily returning back and all that happening amidst the serious tension between the countries around the time of 1971.
 
That in all honestly, strongly made me think about the way we so easily take it as granted while making even an Indo-Pak spy film with a historical reference.
 
In all, RAAZI can certainly be seen for Alia Bhatt alone. And many are sure going to like it too (for their own reasons), since we don’t really give much weightage to logic and lack of realism, when it comes to stars and major production houses controlling both the mind and the market.
 
Rating : 2+1 / 5 (with the additional One for Alia and the three merits prominently mentioned in the first part of the review)

(Note: The article was first published on UC-News Mobile App on 11th May 2018)

Tags : Raazi Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi films reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing
12 May 2018 / Comment ( 2 )
Ashok Sridharan

The death of a senior officer going uninvestigated isn't so remarkable actually. Toxins, even at levels low enough to go undetected by blood tests, can easily kill a victim. Back in 1971, it's easy to imagine something like that happening.

Bobby Sing

For me its was a too convenient spy film that was supposedly a bio-pic with 70% written by imagination of the writer as accepted by the writer himself.
Have mentioned it in details in another article on RAAZI at the site.
Cheers!

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