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, which initially appears to be on an individual’s duty to his/her country and the honour embedded in this duty, slowly and gradually shifts to 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 as ‘common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination’ allowing them to cooperate and work towards a mutual goal. A ‘nation’ is an imagined reality – a notion based on invisible, manmade borders – and so is ‘family’ – nothing more than an alliance or cooperative unit of humans who share some DNA and consequently, some resources. It’s a gross oversimplication without the emotional context, isn’t it? Emotions 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 owes 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 of her own husband who, albeit hand-in-hand with the enemy, is a good-natured and respectable man also committed to his duty to his own nation. His character 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. Misery is omnipresent.
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?