What is it all about?
Awe-inspiring!! What a testament to the human spirit.. Can you utter a brilliant attack against the system and the clergy that encourages hypocrisy, cruelty, inflexibility, ignorance and medievalism, provides fodders for thought and asks questions with stark realities and while doing so strike a chord among audiences by giving a piece of art that touches your heart? Makes you think and understand the sweet little message of coexistence without shouting and delivering speech over the top? Can you do this at one go?...
'Shahid' directed by Hansal Mehta presented by UTV Spot Boy and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Sunil Bohra does that. Incredible. Shahid is an uplifting, sensitive and deeply satisfying adage on survival, humanity, our law system and terrorisms.
Writers Sameer Gautam Singh and Apurva Asrani give a cinematic account of lawyer and human rights activist, Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai. Shahid Azmi was mostly known for defending those wrongly accused in cases of terrorism, including some of accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, such as Faheem Ansari, who was later acquitted for lack of evidence.. this inspiring tale of the lawyer is aptly molded by keeping important facts and adding some fiction by the writers. There is a profound simplicity in the approach where we see the movie opening up with a disturbing 1993 Mumbai riots sequence but thankfully it takes a inspirational jump after a while and we see Shahid (Raj Kumar Yadav) who was so horrified by that night finds his way to a training camp in POK but flees back home.
Now the 'terror' to survive in this manipulative world strikes and Shahid is locked in Tihar Jail amidst hardliners on one hand and police torture on the other. It's in prison comes a silver lining in the life of Shahid cinematically similar to The Shawshank Redemption. Shahid gets himself an education thanks to Warsaab (Kay Kay Menon)encouragement. Shahid studies Law and joins cities top lawyer Maqbool Menon (Tigmanshu Dhulia) differences occur and Shahid starts his own practice in a shoddy office in Mumbai and becomes a dope of hope to those who are wronged by our system and political establishments.
What to look out for
Its highly riveting and a great surprise to find Hansal Mehta capacity to pull of such an astonishing statement on 'terror' and terrorist. Before this Hansal Mehta's journey has not being so memorable with 'Dil pe Mat Le Yaar' and 'Woodstock Villa' but here Hansal pushes up his ante with 'Shahid' for an uplifting, motivation moments on screen. Bravo.
Hansal shoots this with handheld cameras in Irani Cafes, shanty alleys, those crummy buildings of Mumbai, law offices and interestingly is able to develop the drama makes you involved and feel frame after frame.
Such genre demands detailing and we find it over here. The courtroom dramas doesn't go overboard as we see in other banal bollywood presentations.. its real and intense.. The biggest achievement for the maker is that it throws many questions on terror, terrorism, victimization, systems, minorities, the systems prejudice, helplessness, lack of hope, believe, faith, religion, brotherhood and God but while doing so it doesn,t takes any side and manages to stand proudly in its individuality.
As the movie progresses the audience identify the layers after layers under Shahid's argument making us stop and think for a while.
Shahid is expertly acted where Raj Kumar Yadav delivers a composed yet charged up performance. Prabhleen Sandhu as Mariam Shahid's love interest and wife in the film is simple natural and very competent.
Kay Kay Menon is excellent in his short stint. Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub as the big brother is perfect. Baljinder Kaur as the mother is right choice. Tigmanshu Dhulia is brilliant as lawyer Maqbool Menon.
Vipin Sharma, Shalini Vatsa do their part with honesty. Chandrachur Singh leaves his mark.
Rabiul Sarkar art is in sync.
Shahid has had its round of applause at last year's MAMI where it won the India Gold Silver Gateway and this year bagged the best director honor at the New York Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival the movie had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival's 'City to City' segment last year in September. Its equally good and motivating to find a corporate like UTV coming in release this in the mainstream market.. that's how good cinema should be done. Produced by multiple producers and distributed by a giant to garner maximum reach for cinema with belief.
Sequence like Shahid asking Mariam to wear a Burkha to meet his mother and family goes against the protagonist character. Since the movie is shot in handheld cameras somewhere the technical clumsiness appears.
Conclusion: 'Shahid' is a well felt and realized drama of hope, existence, terror and the undying spirit of humanity. Watching 'Shahid' is both uplifting and cathartic. Highly recommended.