Why We Need More Movies Like Alia Bhatt’s ‘Raazi’

Posted by Aishwarya Ghuge in Culture-Vulture, Feminism
May 14, 2018

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G.D Anderson.

The world is embracing social and political change. And so India, too, is gearing itself for such changes. The 21st century is certainly about seizing opportunities, with the feminist movement going out all guns blazing in inspiring and enrapturing minds. Yet, this context to women empowerment is not a new development. It has been going on through the ages. We’ve all fought that patriarchal battle, from demanding equal pay to actually ‘touching the pickle’. Now, the movement has garnered new dimensions, as platforms ranging from social media to television debates have encapsulated the dawn of perception when it comes to gender roles. To deny the fact that there is a burgeoning development in opinion about the existence of women in our society would be a colossal transgression — even our parents have become accustomed to the advancement. Hence, media especially Indian cinema is under the microscope to change the unspoken words of the society.

The importance of Indian cinema cannot be denied as it holds forth an emporium of being the key initiator of change. Women have gone beyond making chai in movies, from fighting crimes to being a vigilante with revenge in her mind – women in the movies are going places. No more tears are shed in vain for the cause of a husband gone astray — the movie mavens have bigger issues to soil their eyeliner over.

And this is the very essence of Meghna Gulzar’s “Raazi” where Alia Bhatt gave a brilliant performance. It is set in the time when India had her first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. As we all know, the movie is based on the book “Calling Sehmat” by Harinder Sikka. Sikka met an Army officer who told him about his mother, the daughter of a Kashmiri businessman who was an Indian spy and was married off to a Pakistani officer to provide India information during the 1971 war. The discussion inspired Sikka to fictionalise this story. He even tracked down the woman, his ‘Sehmat Khan’ who, then lived in Maler Kotla, Punjab. The novel took eight years to complete because there was a danger in revealing the name of the spy and her family.

The movie makes us feel a sense of foreboding throughout for Sehmat as she goes about creeping in places she shouldn’t, a kind of surprise at how affectionate and naive her Pakistani husband was (my favourite scene was when he was about to come across her spying and she took off her kurta and the poor guy had to back off embarrassed!), anger at the way Sehmat’s father put her in harm’s way so easily, and pride at the way she handled it all and still managed to be a ‘good wife’.

I feel we need more movies like “Raazi” because it is proof that women have done many incredible things in life and this needs to be shown to the world where we still need to fight for equal opportunities. And what better medium than movies, especially with the kind of promising female talents in Indian Cinema. A very powerful and emotional film, “Raazi” is a must-watch for people from everywhere and of every kind and age and it has set the bar very high for future women-centric movies in Bollywood and the actresses who star in them. And the most important thing, it has questioned male dominance in the face of female power through the ages. This movie has encouraged me to believe in the evolution of the Indian film industry.