In the midst of roaring blockbusters and deafening hits comes along a film like Shahid which whispers in your ears jut whispers and long after the thunderous roar of the blockbusters are gone and forgotten all you remember is the whisper and the ripples that it created in your hearts and minds. Shahid for so many reasons made me think and made me think hard about certain aspects of my own judgment. I could see myself in the film standing amidst the crowd calling men unpatriotic when I knew nothing more about them than what was shown in the media. It asks an important question as to how many of the actually arrested and so called terrorists are actually terrorist. The film starts off by showing us a written memo in Shahid’s office which has Roy Black’s immortal words written on them. “By showing me injustice, he taught me to love justice…” Shahid remains true to the words with which it starts and remains true to its cause for the duration of the screening.
The film is the story of the life and times of Shahid Azmi, noted Indian lawyer and human rights activist, most known for defending those wrongly accused in cases of terrorism, including some of accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. His most talked about acquittal was Faheem Ansari, who was acquitted for lack of evidence. At age 14, Shahid was arrested during the 1992 Mumbai Riots. He went to Pakistani Occupied Kashmir into a militant training camp, but returned disillusioned. He was arrested again under TADA, serving seven years in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, on charges of plotting against the state, though he was acquitted later. He started studies while in jail, and went on to become criminal defense lawyer in Mumbai in 2003, defending cases for those accused for terrorism. He was shot dead by three assailants in his office in Kurla, Mumbai on Feb 11, 2010 at the age of 32.
To attempt to make a film on the life of such a person in itself is a herculean task and then there is the thing about being spot on with the detailing and authenticity of the plot. Thank fully Hansal Mehta leaves no stone unturned to create a film which is almost faultless to look at. Be it the dark settings, the cramped up existence of the Mumbaikars, the haphazard and sometimes unintelligible debates between the lawyers and last but not the least, the absorbing drama. Shahid glued me to the screen form start to finish. The narrative though not exhaustive is relentless. Every scene takes the story forward and there is not a single moment of boredom to suffer.
The film delicately tries to bring out the true reasons behind the cases that Shahid
picked up. For any man, the people he defended would seemed to be like enemies of the nation but then that’s another important aspect that the film brings out by explaining and proving the fact that not every man charged with conspiracy is a terrorist. Shahid very rightly points out in a poignant scene that as soon as someone is arrested on charges of terrorism he/she is branded for life irrespective of his/her guilt. Shahid’s fight was just as much for justice as it was against this very notion of the people and strangely enough we just failed to understand his stand point during the course of his life.
Rajkumar Yadav portrays Shahid with panache and he has always been a natural actor. Watching him essay Shahid is like watching Shahid himself. I believe thats the best I can say about his performence. Everone else in the cast chip in with important little cameos to complete the saga. Kay Kay Menon makes an appearence in a role which works to shape the path which Shahid takes in his life. Prableen Sandhu as Mariam who is the confidant and wife of Shahid Azmi is resplendent. Overall, Shahid is an important film and it should be watched by one and all for the some of the reasons mentioned above. While watching this you might jsut find out a few reasons to watch it of your own.