Alia Bhatt and other celebs arrive at special screening of 'Raazi'

Alia Bhatt and Meghna Gulzar during the shoot of Raazi

The film is a welcome relief to our senses.

Shishir Sharma as Brigadier Syed. There will be references to the run up to 1971 Indo-Pak war, of course. This is a tradition she has picked in her house of Kashmiri patriots.

The protagonist Sehmat, played by Alia Bhatt, transforms into an Indian spy on the order of her father.

The night after his suggestion, Hidayat has second thoughts and explains to Sehmat that he has patriotism inculcated in him and has blindly followed his father's instructions, as had his father from his grandfather. She's also a spy with the ability to consistently hoodwink her adversaries, putting herself in the line of fire without hesitation. But Sehmat explains she is willing - and why. She plays the role of a quiet yet strong woman who becomes a courageous spy.

The marriage is consummated much later. A steady speed, zipping by only to overtake one vehicle after the other. On the one side, she has the burden of the entire nation, and on the other, the young 20-year-old in her can't help but get attracted to her loving, handsome and extremely sensitive husband. All this not because she is incapable - she is the opposite of that - but because her training had to be fast tracked. (On a lighter note, we could say that the South film is like a sequel that was released earlier!).

And so come in the layers.

Once married, Sehmat is only too aware of the precariousness of her situation. Jaideep Ahlawat as the strict mentor will win you by his serious demeanour and right tone. For instance, in one scene, Iqbal tells his father that Sehmat's actions are a result of her love for her country.

What's remarkable about Alia is her ability to inhabit the world of grey with just as much ease as she does in the black-and-white world of Bollywood. Do you believe we missed out on some better performances of Alia? And how does Hidayat know that a mole in their family can take care of this crucial mission?

Meghana Gulzar has over time picked stories which have been inspired by real events. However, her change of stance comes late in the 140-minute film, and by then, the audiences would have made up their mind. Moreover, she is arriving more than a year after Badrinath Ki Dulhania which was an altogether different film in a far more commercial space and genre. Instead, Meghna Gulzar's steady hand gradually ramps up the tension throughout, leading to an explosive final act in this strong dramatic thriller. There is no playing to the gallery here and no projection of overt patriotism by any major and minor character.

The actress didn't think twice before taking on this character.

Coming to the music, the Raazi title track by Arijit Singh lingers with you for long with Gulzar's meaningful lyrics and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's effective music. Nevertheless, it must be said that there is no lasting quality in the songs.

Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) winces in pain as a salt bottle is thrown at her. To portray the fear of getting killed all the time without overdoing it is what she has achieved. She has proved how good an actor she is by her performance in Highway, Dear ZIndagi & Udta Punjab and this performance can easily be on a par with her career-best performance as Mary Jane aka Bauria in Udta Punjab. The film has also the stars Vicky Kaushal, Shishir Sharma, Jaideep Ahlawat and Ashwath in lead role. The rest of the actors do what is needed - very well. Although the film dodders with sending a clear anti-war message, it compensates with a fast-paced narrative which keeps you engaged.

Raazi was marginally anticipated by the content cinema watchers and those are the ones who have showed up for the morning shows not only in big cities but towns as well.

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