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Raazi: What Lessons are Most Important in a State of War?

Raazi%3A+Daughter.+Wife.+Spy
Raazi: Daughter. Wife. Spy

Raazi: Daughter. Wife. Spy

Dharma Productions

Dharma Productions

Raazi: Daughter. Wife. Spy

Uma Bhat, Staff Writer

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Raazi, an Indian film based on book Calling Sehmat, is a heart-wrenching story, though not in a conventional way. The movie follows the true story of  Sehmat Khan (played by Alia Bhatt), a former spy during the Indian-Pakistani War of 1971, who lost her morality, conscience, and purity while working with the Indian Army Intelligence. At 20 years old, Khan, a Kashmiri-Muslim, married into a Pakistani family heavily involved in Pakistani military affairs in order to retrieve information for her motherland at the request of her dying, Indian-loyal father. As an inexperienced operative, she quickly became independent. As her secrets were unraveled one by one, she learned to set up Morse code stations, to communicate in secret “languages,” to use her intuition, and trust her gut in dire circumstances.

Regardless of her heroic status, it cannot go unacknowledged that Khan suffered greatly during her time as a spy. The change from her life as a college student to a married operative is both dramatic and gripping; she goes from innocent to guilty, after killing two men who could have potentially blown her cover, from happy to burdened, after continuing to see those involved in her affairs die brutally, and from in love to a widow, after her Pakistani husband – with whom she falls in love with – discovers she is a spy and later dies at the hands of Army Intelligence operatives. The film encaptures her daunting tasks and emotional encumberment extremely well but also reveals other truths about war in general.

What heroes do for their countries is patriotic and brave and it often comes at a heavy price. Sehmat, who took pride in her country and was even willing to risk her life to serve it, very narrowly survived being killed alongside her husband in an attempt by her own country – whom she served with such fervor – to save its secrets. Furthermore, the relationships she forms with others during the film, such as helpful contacts and her husband, are quickly shattered to smithereens because of her semi-spy status. In a state of war, no single entity or being is more important than the country. Sehmat, who knows nothing other than her pride in India, is late to realize this.  

Many other lessons are in this film as well. While several in Kashmir, a state plagued by violence, that continues to remain divided by religion (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sehmat portrays the embodiment of a truth that all can appreciate: no matter your religion, your race, or your level of education, your pride in your nation must be your first and most important affiliation. While several Muslims in Kashmir align themselves with Pakistan and several Hindus in the valley are pro-Indian, Sehmat, a pious Muslim, fights for India – and this may come as a shock to several Kashmiris, who naturally see Muslims as pro-Pakistan. This lesson – important considering the current movement against Muslims, regardless of whether they are secular-minded – should be taken to heart by not only Indians and Pakistanis but Americans as well; we too have a long history of discrimination in both the country and the military.

The film, in many ways, is both moving and disturbing – and it certainly makes one feel patriotic, no matter their country. What a former college student was willing to sacrifice in order to help her nation win a war reached incredibly far limits, and this was inspiring to not only me but to everyone else in the theater. With these lessons, edge-of-the- seat scenes, on-point portrayals of characters, and shocking revelations, there is only one conclusion that a viewer can expect to come to: Raazi is definitely a movie worth watching.

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Raazi: What Lessons are Most Important in a State of War?