Monday, November 04, 2013

Dispelling the Myth

Shahid - A Film Review 


If you are a Muslim, you are a terrorist’, an official tagline given to Muslims in India after every bomb blasts or crime scene.


Shahid is the remarkable true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was killed in 2010 by unidentified assailants in his office.


From attempting to become a terrorist, to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law, to becoming a champion of human rights (particularly of the Muslim minorities in India), Shahid traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights, while following the rise of communal violence in India.


This story of an impoverished Muslim struggling to come to terms with injustice and inequality, while rising above his circumstances is an inspiring testament to the human spirit.


Shahid Azmi fought for innocent Muslims, defending those he believed were wrongly accused and imprisoned for alleged terrorist activities without much evidence to justify their seemingly endless incarceration.


Shahid’s story throws at us many unanswered questions about the nature of investigations into terror plots, the victimization of the poor, the corruption and brutality of the system and the popular perception that ties terrorism to the poorest section of Muslims, while the masterminds of these conspiracies are never caught or punished.


But it’s an equally interesting character study, built around Yadav’s emotionally charged but controlled performance as the idealistic young man who becomes a fearless champion of justice against all odds and ultimately pays for it with his life.


On speaking to Hansal Mehta, one comes to realize that this film holds special memories to him. The director’s conviction and passion for the film is quite clear when one watches it.


When asked about his first film, he chuckles and says, “First film? Shahid is my first film!”


Hansal Mehta’s remarkable direction and a vision to educate the masses about inequality and racial prejudice in our country has paid off.  "Raj Kumar became Shahid, he had begun to live Shahid’s life, moulded into the character and made it come alive onscreen”, said Hansal Mehta.


Shahid starring Raj Kumar Yadav as Azmi, has already travelled to Toronto and Mumbai festivals. He has done a tremendous job on playing ‘Shahid’. Personally, I believe nobody could have played Shahid the way Raj Kumar did.


Shahid opened to a packed cinema in the Dubai International Film Festival. It’s a hard-hitting and quite inspiring film. As Hansal Mehta said, “This was a story that had to be told.


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