Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: Raazi, a true spy story

Alia Bhatt in Raazi

Raazi is a true story about an Indian woman who became a spy during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War. It’s full of the action and excitement of spycraft with a sobering finale that looks at the effect of war on the human psyche. You’ll find it on Prime Video.

Raazi was written and directed by Meghna Gulzar, based on the book “Calling Sehmat” by Harinder S. Sikka. The heroic woman at the center of the story is Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhatt).

Sehmat was the daughter of an Indian officer, Hidayat (Rajit Kapoor), who was dying of cancer. He believed in sacrificing everything for one’s country and raised his daughter to feel the same way. He asked her to marry a Pakistani man she didn’t know and become a spy for India. She agreed.

She went through a month of training. In that month she learned Morse code, how to shoot a gun, hand to hand combat, and how to always be alert to danger.

Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal in Raazi

Sehmat married Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal), who was a kind man and a good husband. He was also an officer in the Pakistani army. His father was a Brigadier (Shishir Sharma). The newlyweds moved into the family home where strategy and military matters were often the topic of dinner table conversation. The Brigadier held meetings in the family home and left files around his office.

Sehmat rigged up an antenna so she could transmit information. She visited locations in the nearby town where known Indian sympathizers worked and supported her efforts. She was doing great at supplying information until the family cook started to suspect her.

The situation went bad for Sehmat after that. She was forced to do things she didn’t want to do to survive. They had a very bad effect on her. By the end of the story she was demoralized and suffering from the trauma of her experiences.

Her actions helped India win the war. All around her people confirmed that country was more important than love or relationships or human life, but she was destroyed by that ideal, as so many warriors in so many wars have been.

There were some gaps in the story. What happened to the child she was carrying? How did she find the Indian compound at the end? But overall the film was tense and fascinating. Alia Bhatt was very good as the conflicted heroine at the center of Raazi.

If you’re fascinated by this story and want to learn more, Google ‘Sehmat Khan’ and you’ll find many resources from India telling more about it.

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