Monday, 14 March 2016

Shahid (2013)

Shahid Azmi, a lawyer and human rights activist, was all of 32 when he was shot dead at his Kurla office on February 11, 2010. Azmi defended those accused of various terrorist acts, earning 17 acquittals. Whether each of the clients Azmi defended were innocent, is left to those who dwell in hard facts and the objectivity of it all.   

Real to Reel
Rajkummar Rao plays the protagonist, restless and simmering for the truth. Shahid's traumatic experience of the 1992 Bombay riots, fleeing to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to train as a militant, deserting training and serving 7 years in Tihar Jail, is told in a straight-faced, no frills narrative. Shahid subsequently obtains a law degree post his acquittal. In his portrayal of the criminal defence lawyer, Rajkummar and director Hansal Mehta nail the crucial court proceedings in all its rawness, chaos and banality.    

Shahid is an undoubtedly arresting biopic on the late lawyer's life. This is also a harrowing film on life's vulnerabilities. Even when Shahid courts his client Mariam, a single mother (Prabhleen Sandhu), subsequently marries her, asks his elder brother Arif (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) for help; death looms in the shadows, their turbulent conversations. 

The film depicts Azmi as an uncompromising upholder of truth, not all may agree to this depiction. But it is harrowing when the fatal gunshots sound to a dark fade out. Somewhere between fact and fiction, Shahid is a terse cinematic drama, achingly real and strangely touching.

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