Bollywood movie review: “Shahid”

Cast: Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu, Tigmanshu Dhulia
Director: Hansal Mehta
Shahid is a fictionalised portrait of a human right activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi who was gunned down in his office in 2010. Hansal Mehta’s Shahid sets a gruesome note early on. It starts with a riot scene: the communal riots in mumbai 1992-93. Shahid is portrayed as a person who has lived many small lives in his short journey of life of 32 years; a boy in a clumsy muslim community in Mumbai, in the terrorists training camp, in the jail on suspicion of terrorist acitivity and a well established lawyer where he emerged to be a hero even though his career lasted for just seven years.
Mehta in his film tried to bring a lot of events in the duration of 123 minutes. The cinematographer Anuj Dhawan is succesful in bringing up the charm of the permanently festering Mumbai by snaking his camera through tenements, cafes, trains and buses. The actors supporting the character “Shahid” from Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub (playing Shahid’s brother) to Baljinder Kaur (playing his mother) were very good.
You may feel the first half being a bit haphazard but in the second half Shahid gains momentum. Mehta skilfully captures the kafkaesque circus of Indian courts, with lawyers arguing, judges attempting to keep order and undertrials languishing in jail. The film really gets interesting when the screenplay starts probing Shahid’s mind. As physical action slows down and Shahid takes to practicing law, you get a peek into the protagonist’s thought process amid superb courtroom drama.
The film never becomes strident. Instead, Mehta quietly exposes the anti muslim stance so deeply entrenched at every level of the law and order system. Trust, fear and alienation are undercurrents as Mehta leaves a few questions on the anti-terrorism procedure in this country.
This is one of the very few movies which does not contain the typical bollywood masala and showcases the crude reality of a man who struggled in the beginning of his life and later became a renowned lawyer. Ultimately, however, Shahid is Raj Kumars’s triumph. His Shahid has strength, anguish and a controlled anger. He is the only reason you will like this unusual film. Catch the film right now!

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