Shahid Movie Review

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Release date: 18 October 2013
Cast: Rajkumar Yadav, Tigmanshu Dhulia, K K Menon
Producer: Anurag Kashyap, Sunil Bohra, Ronnie Screwvala
Director: Hansal Mehta
Music Director: Karan Kulkarni
Review Rating : 3.5/5

Hansal Mehta has directed this gritty drama, which is based on the life of slain lawyer and activist Shahid Azmi. The movie has been produced by Anurag Kashyap, Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapoor. The film is hitting the screens on October 18th across India. Media members were invited for a special screening in Hyderabad today, so we are bringing this review ahead of its theatrical release.

Story :

The story of this film revolves around Shahid (Raj Kumar Yadav). The impressionable youngster dabbles in right wing ideologies and heads to POK, to join a terrorist training camp. However, the young Shahid is disillusioned with the philosophy of violence and jihad. After he escapes from the camp, he is picked by police officials as a suspect in a terrorist plot.

After being acquitted of the charges, Shahid decides to become a criminal lawyer. He starts fighting for the rights of people falsely accused of being terrorists under draconian anti-terrorism laws. While he becomes the darling of human rights advocates and the victims, the mood of the society is quite different. In the wake of rising communal violence and terror attacks, Shahid is targeted for his defence of people accused in terror plots.

Shahid endures personal attacks, a fraying marriage and even death threats in his fight for justice. What happens in the end? What price does Shahid pay for upholding the spirit of law? That forms the story of this movie.

Star Performances:

Raj Kumar Yadav is an actor who manages to command charm even in the plainest of roles and now as he dons a role as hefty as Shahid, the actor puts up an enthralling performance with aplomb. Confidently the actor in each scene convinces you of his turmoil, his helplessness. It is almost celebratory to see him weaving Shahid with such strongly driven passion. I specifically loved the scene where he is vandalized outside court; he manged to convey through his eyes the pain that his past will never loosen its clutch on him.

Prabhleen Sandhu plays Mariam with an effortlessly pleasing air. The actress has a strong screen presence which manages to get her noticed despite being limited in an ineffective and shrunken role.

Md Zeeshan Ayyub
is brilliant yet again. After seeing him squeeze out enough laughs from us in Dhanush starrer Raanjhanaa, he is quainter and benign in this one. Playing Shahid’s older brother, the actor does quite a good job in rendering to the film a strong supporting cast.

Kay Kay Menon manages to put himself back in his delightful shoes. After settling for a host of unworthy roles, even in a cameo the actor is heavily impressive.

Plus Points :

Raj Kumar Yadav has done a great job in this film. He has portrayed the character of Shahid with a lot of conviction. We can feel the character’s anguish and desire to save people who are wrongly accused of being terrorists.

Prabhleen Sandhu is sweet and lovable, yet feisty at the same time. In the role of Mariam, she looks quite good in this movie. Kay Kay Menon is very effective in his cameo appearance.

The film has a very authentic and gritty feel. There is no sugary romance. There is no hyperbole. Just a simple and balanced presentation of the slain lawyer’s struggle against a society and judicial system that is heavily prejudiced.

The director manages to draw viewers right into the plot and by the end of the film, most people will root for Shahid’s crusade against an imperfect judicial system.

Minus Points :

The movie can get a little slow at times and the story does not have any entertainment quotient whatsoever. So if you are looking for simple popcorn entertainment, you will be disappointed.

The film looks and feels like it has been made on a shoestring budget. Perhaps, with a bigger budget and better production values, this film would have been a lot better. Mariam’s character should have been developed further.

Technical Aspects :

Cinematography is very average. Editing could have been better. As the director said in a number of interviews, most of the dialogues were improvised on set and this is quite apparent. Karan Kulkarni’s music is ok.

Hansal Mehta’s direction deserves applause. It is quite tough to narrate a known story in such a gripping and gritty fashion.

Verdict :

Shahid is a movie that definitely deserves a watch. It is quite raw, intense and engaging. There are no big stars and there is no entertainment, so be prepared for that. If you are looking for a realistic and serious cinematic experience this week, do check out ‘Shahid’.