When you think of a spy thriller you think of edgy nail biting stuff, here is what comes to mind :
- Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy
- North By North West
- Bourne Identity
- Bridge of Spies
- The Hunt for Red October
- The Departed
Clearly there are loads of other movies and almost impossible to list all 320 of them, but the reason these come to mind is because they have a few things in common and it will provide a good reference point for Raazi. These movies are in no particular order of brilliance, but were picked up basis the amount of tension the audience feels.
The title is apt , one one hand it means agree and the other who is a keeper of a secrets.
Raazi attempts to create a new element if not a genre, where we witness the emotional stress of the protagonist unceremoniously thrust into the world of international espionage. It kind of overshadows the edgy spy thriller content.
To be fair there are other movies which deal with the emotional space, Bourne Identity touches upon the emotional side of it as a backdrop for the protagonist to go search for himself quite literally, while Argo dwells upon a daring plan against all odds, Munich captures the coordination while TTSS weaves magic in its complexity.All of them do have a strong emotional undercurrent, but it never overshadows the plot which seems to be the case with Raazi.
Raazi has shades of it all. Now that is good when you think of the illustrious comparisons it holds up against, and not so good, when you think of so-what’s new mindset.It has a great story line, no teeth gnashing chest thumps against Pakistan, thought there is one in a million chance it will ever be released there, no over the top scenes, sometimes a little too understated perhaps? Let’s take an example.
There ‘s a scene where the domestic help stumbles upon the real identity of the protagonist, the scene pans out quite beautifully up until the chase sequence, which is done rather clumsily and loses a chance to create intense drama. There was scope to tease the audience with some nail biting sequences and some clever tactics to reach the eventual result. Yes Meghna could argue that well that is what happened so why glamorize it? But to me, that is where Raazi kind of fails. And its not just one scene but a series of such small sequences.
The transition from a soft natured homely girl into a skilled agent was done too hastily.Would’ve loved to see a scene where Sehmat is chopping vegetables in her new home with precision of a perfect cut. Or that her soft and delicate skin shapes into taut muscles. Or in some day to day sequence where here instinctive reflexes take the better off her. Yet be careful not to be too predictable.
That said, the attention to detail was good. The costumes and decor were apt and the support cast did a good job as well. Background score was well composed and the editing was swift and smooth. All said and done, it does pull you into 1971 and makes you relive the moment leading up to the war. (Could’ve had a days to go timer somewhere it helps build tension) but like we have the benefit of seeing an end product the real challenge is when a filmmaker has to visual the end product without having shot a single frame. So the observation and commentary is cognizant of these challenges and realizes it is always easier said than done.
Overall, I’d recommend you to watch Raazi and enjoy the subtlety of story telling with good performances from Aaliya and Jaideep Ahlawat. Shishir Sharma does a good job as well. Soni Razdan gets limited screen time and does best with her eyes.A touched under cooked role Arif Zakaria did make the most of it.
I hope this is viewed as a movie and no political agenda or message. So Pakistani’s watching this should not get offended just like Russians don’t get offended where most Hollywood movies paint them as villains. What would James bond do without Russia? Likewise German’s would’ve long suffered with movies continuing to showcase the evil Nazi regime and reminding them of a troubled past. India has also typically been shown as poverty stricken snake charmed country in many many movies over the years. So try and view it objectively ,just as a movie, even if you disagree with the truth behind it all.