How many spy-thrillers have you watched? Several, I assume. Indian movies? Many, I am sure. But how many of them have turned out to be any different from the previous one? Don't they all revolve around much or less the same storyline? One hero cop, one rogue agent and the fight for truth. This is what exactly Khufiya is; an old recipe being sold and served on a fancy new platter.
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the espionage drama centres around Krishna Mehra, portrayed with remarkable depth by Tabu, an operative at the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).
The narrative kicks into high gear when Krishna is assigned to track down a mole within the organization responsible for selling India's crucial defence secrets. Her partnership with her boss, Jeev, played by Ashish Vidhyarthi, forms the core of the film. Their dynamic is both intriguing and authentic, providing a solid foundation for the unfolding story.
As the investigation unfolds, the plot thickens, and suspicions fall upon Ravi, played convincingly by Ali Fazal. Ravi's extravagant lifestyle raises eyebrows, given his seemingly modest income. Soon after, Ravi finds out that he's being monitored and the events of his escape with his family and consequent return to India with Krishna's crackdown form the other half of the film.
What Works For The Film
The work of the stellar cast comprising Tabu, Ali Fazal, Ashish Vidhyarthi and Wamiqa Gabbi stands out and makes the film what it is.
Tabu's portrayal of the complex character of Krishna, a RAW agent grappling with the challenging dual identity of being both a spy and a lover; a mother and a lesbian. The actor's work is not her best but like any of her performances, it was nothing short of mesmerizing, capturing the inner turmoil and strength of her role impeccably.
What stood out for me were two characters; Charu, Ravi's wife played by Wamiqa Gabbi and Lalita Mohan, Ravi's mother portrayed by Navnindra Behl. I am of a belief if a woman, be it a villainous character, is taking charge and knows what she wants, it makes her a feminist. So was Lalita Mohan. The nuanced character has been written with remarkable depth. As spoken about her backstory in the film, she was the wife of a retired army officer who went to work as a middleman for European arms dealers. After he passes away, with her son working for the country's top spy agency, she encourages him to sell the secrets to the enemies. She further takes charge when the family has to escape to the United States.
The other woman of strong character that you see in the film is Charu, Ravi's wife. She is well-educated, smokes cigarettes when nobody is looking, loves to sing and dance and as shown by the sequence is extremely positive about her body. She is also faithful, loyal and a patriot. She is the one who brings the story together at the end.
What Didn't Work
The film feels stretched. Some sequences could have been easily skipped. While Tabu's love life was a good idea to explore to mix it with her professional life leading it to become a personal vendetta is the age-old storyline that audiences are bored of.
An avenging mother, who wants her son back, is just another old story plot. And so was the climax. Although the film's climax is a thrilling culmination of the plot, it is not new and does not leave the audience wanting more. But the ending does provide a satisfying conclusion.
In conclusion, Khufiya is a story of love, sacrifice, and redemption. With stellar performances, a gripping plot, and a touch of emotional depth, it will keep you engaged from start to finish but it will not leave you with a lasting impression.
Watch the trailer here
Views expressed by the author are their own.
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