Ae Watan..

‘Raazi’ is one of those films that will get glued to your soul for sometime after you come out of theatres. May be, much beyond the streets, your neighbourhood and your living room.

Emotions and the very bane of human existence takes a ‘U’ turn in this sizzling drama that catapults us to one of the most bravest and disgusting stories I have come to know during the notorious battle of ‘Indo-Pak’ menace.

1971 was one of the worst India ever saw. Perhaps, the most valiant and path breaking as well. Some stories will blow your mind off, some will make you cry, some will rip you apart. ‘Raazi’ is a classic culmination of these voracious confrontations, within and outside.

I really fail to understand, how we could disown someone who has been so close to dismantle a great power that threatens to destroy the very country we adore. And that too, so conveniently with a dead statement like ‘they knew what they were signing up for’. That’s ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Hypocrisy’ in the same plateau.

The meaning of war is so beautifully explained, it’s appalling and equally disposes all of us to a reality we know but refuse to accept. Men have honour but no compassion, compassion is driven by the animosity for the opposite nation, relationships are built over the foundation of betrayal, emotions are packaged to triage deceit and conspiracy. In a world that’s born out of war, we want peace between 2 twin nations who never wanted it. Rather, the fire is not from the belly, but from the political powers who are either invisible or compromised, for another one. And, the juggernaut continues.

We won 1971, but we lost our peace forever.

The soundtrack of the film will live, perhaps for eternity. Arijit crooning to ‘Ae Watan..’ makes me believe that doesn’t matter who or how, but patriotism is inert feeling and cannot be bucketed. I and you belong to different places, but we still have love and admiration for our roots. And, this promiscuous feeling cannot be modified or disputed or disrespected. The BGM by Shankar Ehsaan Loy deserves equal applause, matching the intensity of this riveting tale. On top of it, the fact that ‘Ae Watan..’ encapsulates the words of the iconic Allama Iqbal makes it such an adorable classic of our times.

Alia Bhatt is simply outstanding as Sehmat Khan. She epitomises the dilemma, helplessness and the guts of Sehmat, which in itself is a spine chilling character. Mind you, Alia Bhatt is still very young, and at such an age, what she has done with films like ‘Raazi’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ is a revelation. Alia, I am sure your Dad is a proud man.

‘Raazi’ will go down as one of the finest 2018 ever produced. Not for the innovation but for the audacity to bring something so scary and dispensable to the odour of Cinema.

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Agneepath (2012): When the legend met his nemesis..

In the 90s, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan epitomised the fallacy of a celebrated gangster. It was touted as THE film of the Shahenshah and famously earned him the national award for an iconic performance.

21 odd years and we have Kancha Cheena rocking Mandwa with his ubiquitous aura. Rauf Lala becomes an aid for Vijay to avenge his father’s death and reclaim the little picturesque near the sprawling Mumbai.

For me, KJOs Agneepath is a far cry from what his dad crafted with Mukul Anand at the helm. Vijay was the consortium of an outcry in Kancha’s devious motives. He topples his empire with ferocious charm and flaunts a heart of gold. The latter is visible in the Vijay of KJOs but the former is completely gone. And, that for me, relinquishes the very soul of Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath. With few notwithstanding, Kancha Cheena, the Bollywood baddie is back rocking and Lala will remain etched in me for sometime to go.

Again, this version survives on splendid performances from its lead actors who are the antagonist. Like the original, the ladies have nothing to cash in on, though Madhavi was a critical leaf in Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’s blood-immersed life of goons. Kaali, is hardly there (except in the song and dance sequences) and her frames with Vijay lack the desired chemistry. Zarina Wahab falls prey to the script she was handed over and does justice (Rohini Hattangadi as Vijay’s unapologetic mother was an irreplaceable venture). Om Puri as Gaitunde was ordinary, and one of the finest actors in our country has been wasted. Katrina does the stealer act with ‘Chikni Chameli’ and leaves quite a few hearts famished.

You could easily blame me for rekindling past a bit too much, but then, nostalgia defines the roots of our lives in a mysterious fashion. I missed these sorely: the confrontation between Vijay and his mother on his ways, her constant attempts to keep him away from his little sister, the delicate relationship between Gaitunde & Vijay and above all, the camaraderie of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan and Kancha Cheena. And, how could I ever forget the ferocious talent of the abusive ally in Tinnu ‘Nathu’ Anand? I will always miss when stamps are bygones.

Sanjay Dutt is my favourite devil here and gives a knock out performance. He is back and look how! The muscle baldie with lingering tattoos of the ‘Shaitan’ is a look borrowed straight from hell and I adored it. Rauf Lala’s inclusion is the biggest saving grace of this Johar remake and Rishi Kapoor deserves an ovation for his stand out feat as the wrecker in chief amidst the Vijay – Kancha despair. His exit post interval took the sheen away and I had to wait till Kancha comes back for the penultimate. The dialogues fitted the bill of the need but Kader Khan’s rendition in the ’91 classic was powerful and remains undisputed.

I don’t believe in comparisons, but I revel in legendary moments. The cash registers are singing the swan song and Dharma Productions will certainly take that. But I am sure KJO will lose the reins over a cup of coffee with his dad at the outcome. And, I would, by all means, take the senior Johar’s side.