The secret service

This period thriller based on Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat is the first film together by Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal and Meghna.

Published: 12th May 2018 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2018 07:33 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi is the story of a spy, Sehmat, a Kashmiri woman who played a crucial role during the Indo-Pak war, and her husband who is a Pakistani Army officer. This period thriller based on Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat is the first film together by Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal and Meghna. While Alia plays the spy, Vicky Kaushal essays the role of her husband. The film also features Alia’s mother Soni Razdan as her reel life mother.  

Meghna says she has used only some portions of Sehmat’s story from the book. “I had to leave two-thirds of the book. I keep telling Mr Sikka that I can make four films on his book,” says Meghna, whose last film was Talvar based on the Arushi Talwar murder case.  

The actors, however, were not allowed to read the book before taking up the film. “I had one copy that I gave to Alia and by the time she finished, it was time to get on the sets. I told Vicky to concentrate on the script and read the book later.”  

Alia just read the portions that were on Sehmat. “I knew that India won the war against Pakistan, but I didn’t know how it happened. It was only after reading the book that I got the details,” says Alia.
On the other hand, Vicky treated the script as the blueprint. About her lead pair—Alia and Vicky—the director says, “I have not seen many of Alia’s films but she is doing different roles and she has the potential. I chose her because she was perfect for the role of Shemat, a 20-year-old fragile girl.

And I knew that only Alia would do justice to the character. It’s not an easy film and I didn’t want the burden of training a new girl. Alia does a lot of prep and homework. We had to make her learn Kashmiri. She also had to learn riding the Jonga. And she molded herself in the character in just three months.
Praising Vicky, she says, “It is a rare talent to be able to convey emotions in silence. But Vicky is really good at it. His character doesn’t have a lot of dialogues. But he says a lot with his eyes. He exudes calmness and confidence.”  

Masaan-fame actor Vicky believes both Alia and Meghna are wonderful women. “They are the women who inspire people across the world. Meghna is the warmest person I have ever come across. She has a nurturing quality. I have been her admirer since Talvar and wanted to work with her, and here I am. The world knows how good actor Alia is. I don’t need to certify that. She has achieved so much early in her career and performs with maturity.”  

Collaborating with Meghna and Vicky was equally fun for Alia. She says Meghna is a simple, clear and detailed director. “She has a strong eye for details, even if it is a character walking in a certain way, whereas Vicky is an actor who performs well under pressure.”

But Alia was nervous when her mother was signed for the movie. “I have done an ad with her, but it is different working in a film. She speaks bad Hindi at home, but she is great with her dialogues.”  
It’s the first time Vicky will be seen talking in Urdu. “And Meghna sat with me to get the tone and accent right. But Alia plays a Kashmiri and her dialect is different,” he says.

On their future plans, Meghna says she needs to take a break. “I have worked hard on the film and am waiting for the results. Post vacation, I will start work on two scripts—one on Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, popularly known as Sam Bahadur, and the other on acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. After making Talvar I have realised that making films on real life characters is more challenging and gratifying.”

Alia Bhatt on the other hand has three films in the pipeline. There’s Karan Johar’s Kalank, Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra and Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy.

Vicky will be seen in web series Lust Stories, an anthology by four directors: Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee. “It was wonderful working on it. It will be available on Netflix soon. I am also playing a cameo in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju.” 


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