Shahid Movie Review – The Best Bollywood Movie of 2013

Shahid is not just a movie, but a confrontation with reality that makes us question the hypocrisy and exploitation that envelops our society.  It is a story about the human rights activist, social crusader and lawyer Shahid Azmi, who fought for justice for the people who were falsely accused and detained by law. Though he fell to the bullets of certain fundamentalists, the man’s legend lives forever with the fascinating portrayal in the movie ‘ Shahid’.

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Plot of Shahid

Back in 1992, when he is in his teens, young Shahid is victimized by the police for instigating the communal riots in Deonar area, Mumbai.  Angered by the incident, he joins a terrorist camp in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.  Repulsed and disillusioned by the barbaric acts in the camp, he returns to Mumbai only to be arrested by the police and slapped with TADA charges for being a suspect terrorist.  In the prison, he meets Waar Saab (K K Menon) who teaches him to be a part of the system to fight it.
 Lodged in Tihar Jail for five years, he completes class 12 and Bachelor’s degree. Out of the prison, he studies law and journalism extensively, and then joins a law firm. He is disillusioned once again, when he sees that the firm is only interested in monetary benefits, rather than really helping out clients.  Shahid decides to form his own law firm, which he runs with dedication and dignity.  He takes up the cases of people who are not able to speak up against the system, are impoverished and exploited.   One such client turns out to be his would-be wife.
 Focused on his resolve to seek justice for the falsely implicated convicts in high profile cases, he continues unabated on the face of death-threats.   While working on preparing a solid case for one ‘Faheem’ who is charged with provided strategic help to terrorists on the 26/11 case,  Shahid is shot dead by fundamentalists.  Post his death, Faheem is acquitted for lack of proof.  We learn that Shahid in the course of 7 years played a huge role in 17 acquittals in many high- profile cases, which is exceptional and unheard of.

Plus points of Shahid

Without doubt, Shahid’s story makes for a compelling narrative.  Director Hansal Mehta executes the subject in the most understated manner, but with complete conviction. Hats off to Sameer Gautam Singh  and Apurva Asrani for coming up with a well researched script.   Made with a modest budget o just Rs.85 lakh, Mr. Mehta peppers the film with interesting sequences and brooding moments that keep the viewers rooted.
The movie does not delve into too many technicalities of the case but still exposes the prejudiced environment we live in.  He taps into the mind of Shahid who had clarity in thought and argued in a simplistic yet thought-provoking manner.  The movie is not jingoistic, there is no over-dramatization,  the pitch is perfect and the courtroom proceedings are shown, the way, they are.   The beautiful yet subtle romantic track between Shahid and Mariyam (Prabhleen Sandu) makes for an endearing watch.  Almost every element of film-making compliments each other, from the gripping screenplay  to the impressive camerawork, from the crisp editing to the brilliant performances.

Performances in Shahid

Two performances rule the roost in the year 2013 – Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Raj Kumar Yadav in Shahid.  Raj Kumar shines throughout the film, he is simply indispensable for the film. You come to terms with a myriad set of emotions and mental conflicts experienced by Shahid, through the Midas touch of Raj Kumar Yadav.

The others are a delight to watch too. Mohd Zeeshan Ayub, who wowed one and all with his performance in Raanjhanna, supports Raj Kumar, ably.   Prabhleen Sandhu, Kay Kay Menon, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vipin Sharma and others give first-rate performances.

Conclusion

Skip Shahid and you miss out on a fascinating piece of cinematic brilliance. It is unarguably, the best movie of 2013. Watch it!

Rating :****1/2 (Almost perfect)

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