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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Barefoot

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You know that warm, comforting feeling you get when you step onto soft grass with your bare feet? How the blades of grass gently tingle your skin and you feel a kind of one-ness with the earth?

You know that relieved breath of sigh you let out when you step out of your tiring shoes and sweaty socks at the end of a long day and let your toes feel the floor of your house? How the cool, hard tiled floor sends shivers of happiness right up your spine and you feel the majority of your stress and exhaustion just melt away into the ground?

You know that funky, uplifting feeling you get when you let your toes wriggle in the hot sand of a sunny, gorgeous beach? How your feet sink into the sand and you just become a part of the nature and beauty of the place itself?

I really hope you know how all this feels. I hope you’re not like me, terrified of letting myself walk barefoot on the ground for no logical reason. I hope when your toes touch the floor, you’re able to appreciate the beautiful feeling for me because damn, I wish I was in your place.

The Erring (Wo)Man

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Each of man’s quarrels –

The woman’s fault:

An ageless blame game

That he would not halt.

Battle and bloodshed –

The woman’s fault;

At every turn of the road,

Her honour suffers assault.

Man’s fall from grace –

The woman’s fault;

Of his own superiority

Must fickle man always exalt?

~Diksha

Virgin

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Butterscotch tresses,

Twinkling eyes,

Succulent breasts

Slowly fall and rise;

Erotic curves,

The swing of her thighs:

The sparkling maiden –

An invaluable prize;

Her form and beauty

Like that of Aphrodite

Enchants all men –

The fool and the wise.

~Diksha

Tainted

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First glance.

Knee-jerk:

From his gaze, she must shirk.

Second exchange.

Still scared:

She would not be ensnared.

Third day.

Doubt grows:

To every stranger, a little trust she owes.

Fourth look.

Hesitant smile:

He seems like a friend for a while..

Fifth time.

Say hi:

He has to be a nice guy.

Sixth smile.

Tainted touch:

She flees from the hands that clutch.

Seventh hell.

Weapon ready:

She approaches their spot with resolve unsteady.

Eighth day.

No show:

Her attacker has left her to her woe.

Ninth year.

Undying plea:

Someone peel off the skin where he touched me.

Tenth time.

Opens mouth:

But still feels dirty and uncouth.

Eleventh stranger.

Unending distrust:

Every man is guided by lust.

Twelfth night.

Sleepless eyes:

I will not rest until he dies.

~Diksha