Raazi

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Raazi
Raazi - Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMeghna Gulzar
Produced byVineet Jain
Karan Johar
Hiroo Yash Johar
Apoorva Mehta
Screenplay byBhavani Iyer
Meghna Gulzar
Based onCalling Sehmat
by Harinder Sikka
StarringAlia Bhatt
Vicky Kaushal
Music byShankar–Ehsaan–Loy
CinematographyJay I. Patel
Edited byNitin Baid
Production
company
Distributed byAA Films India
Zee Studios
Release date
  • 11 May 2018 (2018-05-11)[1]
Running time
140 minutes
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget30 crore[2]
Box office194.06 crore[3]

Raazi (lit. Agree) is a 2018 Indian spy thriller[4] film directed by Meghna Gulzar and produced by Vineet Jain, Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar and Apoorva Mehta under the banners of Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions. It stars Alia Bhatt and features Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapur, Shishir Sharma, and Jaideep Ahlawat in supporting roles.[5][6] The film is an adaptation of Harinder Sikka's 2008 novel Calling Sehmat, a true account of an Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent who, upon her father's request, is married into a Pakistani family of military officials to relay information to India, prior to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.[7][8][5][9][10]

Principal photography of Raazi began in July 2017 in Mumbai and was completed on 27 October 2017.[11] It was shot across several locations including Patiala, Nabha, Malerkotla and Doodhpathri.[12] The film was released on 11 May 2018.[1] Made on a budget of 35 crore (US$ 4.9 million)–40 crore (US$ 5.6 million), Raazi earned over 194 crore (US$ 27 million) worldwide to emerge as one of the highest-grossing Indian films featuring a female protagonist.[13]

Plot[edit]

Indian army officer Lieutenant General Nikhil Bakshi addresses a group of Indian soldiers aboard the INS Viraat, detailing a woman's exploits while serving as an undercover agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency, in Pakistan.

The story flashes to events preceding the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. 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 as a last wish before his impending death from lung cancer. Sehmat leaves college against the wishes of her mother Teji Khan, and to prepare her to spy, she is hastily trained by senior RAW officer Khalid Mir and his assistant, a young Bakshi, in various fields, including martial arts and shooting. She proves to be a fast learner. Sehmat learns of other agents in Pakistan and their contacts, and practices converting text information to Morse code, which she has to use while transmitting information to India.

Khan uses his friendship with Brigadier Syed of the Pakistan Army to get Sehmat married to his son, Iqbal Syed, another military officer. After the marriage and migration to Pakistan, Sehmat quickly settles into her married life, adjusts to a new country, and establishes the trust and confidence of her in-laws. Brigadier Syed is promoted to Major General shortly afterwards, which results in crucial national security documents and senior members of the country's defence forces passing through his house. Sehmat soon establishes communication channels with her handlers back in India and starts relaying information. Meanwhile, she falls in love with Iqbal and they become intimate.

Eventually, Sehmat spots information related to the planning of an offensive against India and, at great risk, is able to gather the necessary details and pass them on. One of the servants, Abdul, discovers the truth about Sehmat and rushes out to inform the others. She chases him and runs him down with a jeep to avoid exposing her cover. The event takes a heavy emotional toll on her. The information she passed on points to the planned attack on the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, then deployed in the Bay of Bengal and provided one of the initial warnings to the threat.

Sehmat plots to kill Mehboob Syed, Iqbal's brother and an army officer after he begins investigating Abdul's death and finds her suspicious. She succeeds in poisoning him with Ricin using an umbrella contraption. Pakistani intelligence begins a crackdown on espionage operations in the area, and several of Sehmat's accomplices are arrested, posing an additional challenge. Sehmat is mentally disturbed, having widowed Munira, Mehboob's wife, but quickly recovers. She is eventually discovered as a spy by Iqbal, who is heartbroken by the revelation. Iqbal confronts Sehmat with the police but dies from a bomb thrown by Khalid Mir, who has arrived with a team to extract Sehmat, to cause her death should she be caught. Sehmat is alive, having switched places with another burqa-clad agent. She realizes the insignificance of relationships and humanity in this line of work. Broken by the destruction of a family by her hand and everything she has seen and had to do, Sehmat requests Khalid to allow her to return to India. After she does, it is discovered that she is pregnant with Iqbal's child. She says that she will keep him and raise him alone.

With Sehmat's findings, the INS Rajput sinks the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi off Visakhapatnam's coast.[N 1] This starts the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which ends with the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender, an Indian victory. Bakshi concludes his speech, with Samar Saeed, Sehmat's son, among the addressed officers.

An aged Sehmat sits in her chair and stares out of the window of her house, in the middle of nowhere.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Since 2014, Priti Sahani, president of Junglee Pictures, was trying to acquire the film rights to Harinder S. Sikka's 2008 novel Calling Sehmat, which details the a true story of an Indian woman secret agent married to a Pakistani army officer to provide the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) with confidential information prior to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.[16] During the production of Talvar (2015), she got in touch with Meghna Gulzar and enquired if she was interested in directing a film adaptation of the novel.[16] Meghna agreed, but was informed a few months later that the film didn't materialize.[16] In February 2016, she was approached by another producer to adapt the same novel, and she agreed again, thinking it was "a tad serendipitous" to be offered the same project twice.[16]

When talks on that proposal also fell through, Meghna decided she had "a karmic connection"[17] with Calling Sehmat given that Sikka had approached her father Gulzar to direct the film adaptation when the novel was released; she had developed a rapport with Sikka during previous meetings while discussing the production and told the author that they approach Sahani again for the film adaptation.[16] The talks were successful, and in December 2016, Meghna announced the project as her next film.[16] Meghna was drawn to the story as it was "an ordinary girl's extraordinary feat" and was "not chestthumpingly anti-Pak, pro-India, pro-war sloganeering", and it being a true account "makes [the film] that much more powerful".[16] She tried to remain as true to the story as possible during production.[16]

Even though the film was set in the backdrop of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, it didn't feature action scenes unlike other films under the same backdrop since the story leads to the beginning of the war and not the actual conflict.[16] Meghna had heard stories of the war from her family members, having been born after the war was over.[16] She felt it was "an important milestone in [Indian] history" and was motivated to make the film as the story is important in present times, when neighbouring countries have non-cordial relationships.[16] Meghna said: "The human element makes it timeless. From my father’s friends in Pakistan I understand that the lines are on paper and brought up politically but at the end of the day, we’re similar in our clothes, cuisine, and culture."[16]

In December 2016 it was being speculated that Alia Bhatt had been offered the lead role in Meghna Gulzar's next film[18], a news which was confirmed to be true in April 2017.[19][20] Karan Johar's production house Dharma Productions came on board to co-produce the film along with Junglee Pictures in April 2017.[21] It was officially announced in June 2017 that Vicky Kaushal had been finalized to play the role of a Pakistan army officer in Meghna Gulzar's Raazi.[22][23]

Filming[edit]

The filming process of Raazi began in July 2017[24] and the first schedule which took place in Mumbai was wrapped up by mid-August 2017.[25] Originally, the first schedule of Raazi was supposed to be held in Kashmir but due to the state of unrest in the valley, the makers decided to shift the shooting location to Mumbai where all the indoor scenes were filmed at a set created inside Film City.[26][27] The second schedule of the film took place in Punjab, where filming was done in Patiala and Malerkotla during August and September 2017.[28] The shooting in Patiala was stalled for a few days days due to the violence that erupted after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on 25 August 2017 and the curfew that was imposed as a consequence of which.[29][30][31] After completing the Punjab schedule[32], the production team of Raazi arrived in Kashmir on 17 September 2017 for a ten-day schedule where filming was done at Pahalgam, Shiv Pora in Srinagar and Doodhpathri in Budgam district.[33][34] The final schedule of shooting was supposed to take place in Punjab but was completed in Delhi instead due to the unrest caused by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's arrest.[35][36] The filming process of Raazi came to an end on 27 October, 2017.[37]

Soundtrack[edit]

Raazi
Soundtrack album by
Released18 April 2018[38]
StudioPurple Haze, Mumbai, India[39]
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length18:58
LanguageHindi
LabelZee Music Company
Producer
  • Abhay Rumde
  • Sreejith Padmakumar
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy chronology
Rock On 2
(2016)
Raazi
(2018)
Soorma
(2018)
External audio
Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The music and background score of the film is composed by Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy while the lyrics are penned by Gulzar. The songs featured in the film are sung by Arijit Singh, Harshdeep Kaur, Vibha Saraf, Shankar Mahadevan and Sunidhi Chauhan. The song "Ae Watan (Female)" also contains the lyrics of Allama Iqbal's dua "Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua", that is the national prayer of Pakistan being offered during school assemblies. The soundtrack was officially released on 18 April 2018 by Zee Music Company.

Vipin Nair of The Hindu gave the soundtrack 4/5 stating that it's "a gem of a soundtrack" and "wish the soundtrack were longer".[40][41] The Times of India based Debarati Sen, in her review, said the album is "definitely one to be heard on the loop". She further added that it is a "must for music lovers and Gulzar fans".[42]

Track listing
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Ae Watan"Arijit Singh3:43
2."Dilbaro"Harshdeep Kaur, Vibha Saraf, Shankar Mahadevan5:14
3."Raazi"Arijit Singh6:30
4."Ae Watan (Female)"Sunidhi Chauhan3:31
Total length:18:58

Release and reception[edit]

The first poster of Raazi was released on 9 April 2018[43] through the official Twitter handle of the film while the trailer of the film was launched on 10 April 2018.[44]

Raazi received mostly positive reviews from critics.[45] The film currently holds a 100% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 6 reviews with an average rating of 8/10.[46]

Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost termed the film as a heart-stopping, heartbreaking espionage drama and gave it 4.5 stars out of 5.[47] The Times of India rated the film 4/5 stars stating that "Raazi rewrites the spy-thriller genre with emotions, instead of explosions."[48] Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times praised Alia Bhatt's performance and gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 saying that, "Raazi is a sensibly written and finely performed film that takes a close look at the ordinary lives of extraordinary people. Not to miss."[49] Shalini Langer of The Indian Express praised director Meghna Gulzar for not allowing Raazi to become a "chest-thumping spectacle of jingoism" and gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5 saying that, "at a time when hate and anger are the currency of the subcontinent, a film like Raazi needs to be made."[50] Meena Iyer of Daily News and Analysis gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 saying that, "Alia Bhatt-Vicky Kaushal starrer will blow your mind!"[51] Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com appreciated the acting performances of the film, it's music composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, cinematography as well as editing and gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 saying that, "Raazi is a rarity. It is intense, riveting, clever, dark, sad, lyrical, heartfelt, relevant and understated."[52]

Rajeev Masand of News18 praised the performance of Bhatt, calling her the "beating heart of Raazi" and gave the film a rating of 3.5 saying that, "The film is admirable also because it’s a measured, mostly intelligent thriller that asks us to consider concepts of patriotism and honor without spoon-feeding us with manipulative background music or provocative dialogue."[53] Raja Sen of NDTV gave the film a rating of 3 out of 5 saying that, "There is a lot to like in Meghna Gulzar's spy movie, but Alia Bhatt makes it hard to take Raazi seriously."[54] Kennith Rosario of The Hindu reviewed the film saying that, "There’s a lot going for Raazi yet there’s a nagging lack of novelty — whether it is the film’s plot, message or Bhatt’s ability to cry."[55] Nandini Ramnath of Scroll said that, "Alia Bhatt shines in a muddled and improbable spy thriller."[56] Bollywood Hungama gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5 saying that, "Raazi is an interesting thriller brilliantly narrated by Meghna Gulzar that makes for mature viewing. It is a film that celebrates nationalism that is devoid of the colors of religion."[57]

Suhani Singh from India Today gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars stating "Alia Bhatt steals the show in Meghna Gulzar's spy thriller".[58]

Box office[edit]

Raazi emerged as the sixth highest-grossing Hindi film of 2018.[59] It became second film, driven by female lead, to gross more than 100 crore nett in India, after Tanu Weds Manu Returns.[60] The film grossed more than 120 crore in India, emerging as highest-grossing film of Alia Bhatt, surpassing Badrinath Ki Dulhania.[61]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Date of Ceremony Awards Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
10 August 2018 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Film Raazi Nominated [62]
Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated
Best Actress Alia Bhatt Nominated

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ India officially credits the INS Rajput for sinking PNS Ghazi.[14] Pakistan rejects India's claim of sinking Ghazi as "false and utterly absurd".[15] The film mentions India's version of the sinking, and this has been included in the plot.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]