Ruminating ‘Raazi’

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It is rare for a film that begins with dramatic, patriotic dialogue to end on a realistic note that truly questions war instead of glorifying it. Raazi accomplishes not just this commendable feat but also chooses to do so by portraying raw, personal turmoil instead of gruesome, action-packed violence.

The focus of the film initially appears to be on an individual’s duty to his/her country and the honour embedded in this duty. But slowly and gradually, the story unravels the ethical dilemma of the conflict of war:

Is the fight for peace really worth it when the very process to achieve it causes the complete opposite; when, to protect the majority, a few individuals are subjected to the very worst of trauma and suffering?

Yuval Noah Harari, in his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, explains the concept of imagined realities which Raazi very poignantly yet subtly portrays. Imagined realities are ‘common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination’. A ‘nation‘ is an imagined reality – a notion based on invisible, manmade borders – and so is ‘family‘ – nothing more than an alliance of humans who share some DNA and consequently, some resources. It’s a gross oversimplication without the emotional context, isn’t it?

Emotion is where things start to get complicated and that is exactly what Raazi expertly uses to paint a picture of the conflict between nation and family – a conflict of imagined realities. To whom does Sehmat truly owe her loyalty – her motherland or her husband’s family? Her father’s legacy of honour or her own conscience?

A terrible moral dilemma, all in the name of patriotism, transforms a young, innocent girl into committing murders and becoming an agent in the death and grief of others, including her own in-laws, some of whom were simply innocent bystanders. Their suffering is a screaming testimony of the harshest truth: every person is a victim in war. The enemy is not a monster – just someone with a different viewpoint who suffers equally. There is no real winner.

Raazi‘s message is the irony of war – that the very structures that are supposed to provide us with peace, security and efficiency tear apart our lives to ensure their own survival. Sehmat’s screams of anguish are the voice of every war victim’s question: What was it really worth?

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