Shahid Movie Review by Sputnik

Shahid Official Synopsis: Shahid is a work of fiction based on the fascinating true story of slain human rights activist & lawyer Shahid Azmi. Accused of terrorist links, he was imprisoned under a draconian law before he went on to become a fearless lawyer. The film traces the awe-inspiring journey of an impoverished citizen who became an unlikely messiah for human rights and an inspiring testament to the human spirit.

The Official synopsis claims right at the outset that it is “a work of fiction based on the fascinating true story of slain human rights activist & lawyer Shahid Azmi”. So its understandable that there will be some cinematic liberties but when a movie is about justice and truth shouldn’t the movie be factual on at least the important details of Shahid’s life? The movie begins with Shahid running out on the street and witnessing riots and then he is in a terrorist training camp in Kashmir. The training camp scene is just for a few minutes with montage of the usual training scenes and then he runs away from there. In the movie he does witness people getting killed but none of his family members are harmed so the movie is very hazy on what affected him so much and as to how he ended up in Kashmir. And since the real Shahid was only 14 years old may be this early part played by a younger actor rather than Rajkumar Yadav would have made it more credible.

There seem to be different versions of what actually happened. According to this TOI interview – “In December 1992, he was arrested for an allegedly conspiring to assassinate Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Azmi was convicted in 1999 by court constituted under the now-defunct Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and given a five-year sentence. But, he was acquitted by the supreme court later that same year. Azmi was barely 15 years old when picked up by the Govandi police for allegedly indulging in violence a few days after the Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.” ‘”I had seen policemen killing people from my community. I have witnessed cold-blooded murders. This enraged me and I joined the resistance,” the soft-spoken lawyer told TOI on Saturday. Azmi said that the cops had booked him in a violence case and later “framed” him for conspiring to assassinate Thackeray.’ Link

According to this DNA Article – “As a 15 year old in Govandi he had seen and experienced the worst of communalism- his cousin sister being raped and his father being slaughtered in the 1992 Bombay Riots. Burning with hapless indignation, he joined a terrorist training camp in Kashmir, only to be repulsed by the manipulation and brazen slaughter of those gullible enough to play into the hands of terror-mongers. Arrested under the Draconian TADA (Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act), tortured in custody, beguiled into giving a “confession”, lodged in Tihar Jail for six years, he was acquitted of all the trumped up charges levelled against him.” Link

According to this Tehelka article – “The third of five brothers, Azmi’s life turned the day sword-wielding Hindu fanatics rushed at him as he walked home from school just days after mobs razed the disputed Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh in 1992. A Hindu neighbour saved him. “Shahid was never the same again,” his oldest brother, Arif, said as I sat with him last week at Azmi’s house a block away from his office. One day, at age 16, Azmi upped and left, ending up first in the Kashmir valley, and then across the border, with a gun on his shoulder. But he soon came back, disillusioned with the insurgency.” Link

The courtroom scenes are excellent and they capture the chaos with all the screaming and yelling. The way Shahid punches holes in the prosecution’s case using logical arguments is very good. The scene where the prosecutor brings up Shahid’s own past is the best scene of the movie. Do not know how much cinematic liberty has been taken for the scenes between Shahid and Mariyam but they are handled very well and are not filmy/cheesy like the romantic scenes from a recent biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The face blackening scene is very effective and is inspired by the director Hansal Mehta’s own face blackening incident. Link

The jail scenes with Kay Kay Memon are very filmy. Shahid was supposedly shot in his office while working late so do not understand why the director had to show it differently. Also the movie kind of fast forwards through all the different terrorist attacks. Not sure about the real Shahid Azmi but the movie makes it seem like he only fought cases for Muslims.

Raj Kumar Yadav is excellent in a lot of scenes especially the courtroom scenes but he also seems very cheerful/happy in the jail scenes where you would expect more angst. His acting is very similar to his Kai Po Che acting in quite a few scenes. Prabhleen Sandhu is excellent as Mariam whether its in the initial romantic scenes or the confrontation scenes later. Zeeshan Mohd Ayyub who was excellent as Murari in Raanjhana is excellent once again as Shahid’s brother. Baljinder Kaur, Vipin Sharma and Shalini Vasta are very good. Kay Kay Memon is bad in a small cameo and acts with his usual mannerisms. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s cameo seemed totally unnecessary.

Hansal Mehta’s direction is very good for the most part. Its good that he does not try to dilute the movie by putting in any cheesy love story or songs. But fleshing out the early part of Shahid’s life as to how he got influenced and his time in the training camp would have made the movie better. It seems remarkable that Shahid Azmi got 17 acquittals for his clients in just seven years in a country where court cases drag on for years. The movie is not perfect but it does a good job of highlighting the plight of innocent people who are incarcerated for years without much evidence just because of their religion.

  1. Baba 8 years ago

    great review. seems like a knock out film, will see it, if you have liked it, there must be something good in it 😀

  2. sanket porwal 8 years ago

    My review of Shahid-

    Very seldom do we come across a film which is both disturbing (because of the saddening real life story) and satisfying (because of cinematic experience). SHAHID is one of those films. The real victory here is Hansal Mehta’s stringent treatment where his grip is staunch and his story is smartly written. The real goal of the film, probably, was to to display what all happened to a life who has seen everything from terror, romance, success and brutality. Hansal Mehta quite skillfully draws you into the story without adding unnecessary drama and unwarranted emotions.

    One is already into the film when the dialogue goes “By giving me injustice, god taught me to love justice.” Its so meaningful and relevant to the topic that it settles you for next two hours. Mehta never uses much of flashbacks, which is used usually in stories which mirrors a long period of time. Here, we go through 17 years of Shahid’s life and the writers quite effectively gives a progression to the lead. He is feared and full of shyness but through course of time he is a man of complete confidence. Such dynamism in his role never looked abrupt and here, the writer and director must be praised, but its the leading boy who wins it. The film also benefits from the court-room commotion moments which are nail-biting. They at one point get humorous, and intentionally so.

    Although I have a complaint to the writers- One of the most vital period of Shahid’s history was when he was affiliated to a terrorist organization, but this film has hardly given any importance to it. The episode is over with few minutes and its relevance is hardly materialized in later part of the film. The writers clearly has tweaked some part. Even the romance part is given to much of time.

    Yet, Shahid is gripping and almost engaging affair. The film is also immensely helped by a solid background score which lifts the tension. Also the setting of the film looks cent percent authentic.

    Rajkumar Yadav never even for a second comes out of his role. He is so much into it that you assume him to be the real-life Shahid. Easily one of the best performances this year. Note him in the scene where he cracks a joke to a women who is in all tension. Kudos! Mohmmaed Zeeshan Ayub, the Raanjhnaa fame, has once again shown of what caliber he is. In a small role, he brings life to his character, which is conventional and connective. Cameos of Kay Kay Menon and Tigmanshu Dhulia also lasts long in SHAHID’s memory.

    Cutting long story short, SHAHID is a story which is disturbing and shocking. Watch it to know how did the slang of this martyr’s life oscillated.

    Rating- 3.5/5

    And I agree almost everywhere. Even I think that his whole part with terrorist org was not well scripted.

    By the way, very well written review. You summed it up very nicely.

    • Author
      sputnik 8 years ago

      Thanks Sanket. Very good review by you too.

      I liked the dialogue “By giving me injustice, god taught me to love justice.” a lot too.

      Glad that you think same of his terrorist training camp scenes.

      Very good point on Mehta not using flashbacks. I liked that too.

  3. cr7 8 years ago

    Didn’t read the entire review as i haven’t seen it yet . but looks like u liked it . waiting for a good print .will surely watch it .

  4. Jaya Lahori 8 years ago

    Did u see Lunchbox Sputnik, in case u have wud like to read ur review. Haven´t seen Shahid, looks like its a good one getting positive reviews.

  5. Tanqeed Movies 8 years ago

    Jaya Lahori Yes. May be I was expecting more due to the hype and praise. Its fine with very good performances. Did not write a detailed review but here is my comment.

  6. Baba 8 years ago

    the riot affected ppl can take inspiration from this guy. it is exemplary that he studied in jail and became a criminal lawyer. this is the best way to fight back a childhood trauma like he had

    • Author
      sputnik 8 years ago

      Agree Baba.

      His younger brother Khalid is also a lawyer.

      “Khalid was inspired to study law by Shahid, who told him that sooner or later he would be killed and that ‘if something happens to me you should carry forward the work’. It was barely four months after Khalid completed studying law that Shahid was shot dead in his office in Kurla. The responsibility fell on Khalid to take up his brother’s cases and complete them.”

      “But today, it has inspired numerous Muslim youth in the locality where he worked and was killed, to study law and enter the legal profession, to carry forward the ideals that Shahid stood for.”

      Sanket mentioned about a quote from the movie and the credits start with that quote.

      “The words of Roy Black – an American criminal defense lawyer – were pinned on Shahid’s desk and inspired him till the day of his death. It aptly summed up the principles Shahid stood by in his life:

      “By showing me injustice, he taught me to love justice. By teaching me what pain and humiliation were all about, he awakened my heart to mercy. Through these hardships I learned hard lessons. Fight against prejudice, battle the oppressors, support the underdog. Question authority, shake up the system, never be discouraged by hard times and hard people. Embrace those who are placed last, to whom even bottom looks like up. It took me some time to find my mission in life – that of a criminal defense lawyer. But that ‘school’, and that Teacher, put me on my true path. I will never be discouraged. Even thorns and thistles can teach you something, and lead to success.”.



      I had written in my review that “Not sure about the real Shahid Azmi but the movie makes it seem like he only fought cases for Muslims.”

      So good to see he helped a poor Hindu lady too.

      “Well known for the terror related cases mostly of Muslims, for which he was killed, Adv. Shahid had another side to his life and practice. Dhanna Parshuram Kotekar, a widow in her sixties, remembers him, on his first death anniversary, with pain and with tears in her eyes as “Bhagwan ka Avtar.”

      Dhanna, who lives in a slum of Kranti Nagar, Kurla told that her son Hemant was arrested by the Kurla police in a murder case and charged him under article 302, although according to her it was an incidental death happened due to infighting between her son Hemant and the victim.

      She said, “I am a widow and approached many lawyers and sold everything for their fees but at the end lawyers replied that they will not be able to save my son Hemant.”

      Then she came to know about Advocate Shahid Azmi and approached him with empty hand. She recalled, “Shahid happily agreed to fight our case free of cost and got my son discharged from the case in 2006.”

      She further said that during the fighting of the case Dhanna and her daughter Archana used to meet him and thus he came to know about their plight. They did not have a penny to buy meal. She recalled, “He came to our home, which is nearly a 70 sq.feet, sat down and said that he is also my son like Hemant and started helping us financially every month.”


  7. Jaya Lahori 8 years ago

    Thanks Sputnik, I liked the film and the performances, though some people did not like Irfan khan ´s performance but I preferred him to Nawazuddin.

    Agree with the points that you highlighted , just that I felt Ila´s indecisiveness to carry on the dabba delivery to the wrong person was shown, she gave in to the fact that somebody responded or acknowledged her.

  8. aryan 8 years ago

    Shahid Trying to see tonight I liked the subject waiting for a good print.

  9. FS 8 years ago

    Very good review Sputnik… If they have to make a film without using cinematic liberties then they are aiming for “A Separation”. Will watch it when good print comes out. I don’t like the actor but I like his acting.

  10. Manish Kumar 8 years ago

    (Y) will check out when good print comes out

  11. Author
    sputnik 8 years ago

    I saw this name Rajkummar Rao instead of Rajkumar Yadav and I thought it was a typo by TOI but apparently he has now changed his name to Rajkummar Rao for numerology.

    I have no issues with Anushka: Rajkummar Rao

    ‘Kai Po Che’ actor Rajkummar Rao has cleared the air about recent casting controversy that he has been ousted from upcoming film ‘NH 10’ on the insistence of actress and co-producer Anushka Sharma.

    The 25-year-old ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ actress is co-producing the action thriller about a road trip gone wrong with Phantom Films.

    Rajkummar, 29, says the decision to back off from the much-delayed project was mutual as he had already committed to another film and he has no issues with Anushka.

    “I never signed ‘NH 10’ officially. I was supposed to do it. Then it got delayed. Then I moved on to other films like ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘Shahid’. Then I started working on another film. I can’t do two films at the same time. I prefer doing one film at a time,” Rajkummar told in an interview.

    “So it was a mutual decision. I share a very good relation with the team. I think Anushka is also a very sensible girl. She is a really good actor and I don’t think she will do anything like that,” he added.

    According to some reports, Anushka decided to replace Rajkummar with actor Neil Bhoopalam, who is currently a part of Anil Kapoor’s ’24’.

    Rajkummar’s last three films – ‘Talaash’, ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘Shahid’ have been hugely successful. In ‘Shahid’, directed by Hansal Mehta, the actor received rave reviews for his sensitive and accurate portrayal of lawyer and human rights activist, Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai.

    When asked if the success of the film has sunk in yet, Rajkummar said, “Yes it has in a way. We have got a lot of great response. Everyone who has seen the film has loved it. I think it is a great feeling. But now its all over and I have moved on to another film? I have undertaken a new journey.”
    ‘Shahid’s’ success has also paved a way for a second collaboration between Rajkummar and Mehta. The duo will work together in ‘City of Light’ which is being produced by Fox Star Studios and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

    “We have started working on that. ‘City of Light’s’ is an official remake of 2013 British-Filipino film ‘Metro Manila’. We are just adapting it to the Indian context. It’s a great script. Its a human drama about a couple,” he said.

    Rajkummar had a rather unconventional Bollywood debut with Dibakar Bannerjee’s anthology film ‘ Love, Sex Aur Dhoka’ in 2010. But the actor has done pretty well for himself in the last three years.

    Rajkummar says he does not bother much about the praise that is coming his way and wants to rather focus on building his career on his achievements.

    “It feels great. I am really happy and thankful to God that my career is going in a correct direction. It is very flattering. But I feel its too early to begin to enjoy it. I still have a long way to go. The start is really good. I just want to concentrate and not get carried away by all the laurels that are coming my way.

    “I want to be honest to my craft. It gets a little difficult dealing with the fame and adulation. But you always have a choice. You either get carried away or no get affected and continue to do your work,” Rajkummar said.

    The actor has recently changed his surname from Yadav to Rao and also added an extra ‘M’ to his name.

    “I always wanted o change it and anyway Yadav or Rao are the same surname, so it does not matter much. My mother asked me to put an extra ‘M’ and she asked me to do a whole lot of things. I told her I can’t do all of that but only this much. I think she is just being a concerned mom just like how all moms are,” he said.


  12. Anjanpur685Miles 8 years ago

    Saw it recently and loved it.

    Agree with this:

    “Raj Kumar Yadav is excellent in a lot of scenes especially the courtroom scenes but he also seems very cheerful/happy in the jail scenes where you would expect more angst.”

    Not only in jail scenes but some scenes throughout the movie he is more cheerful.
    But overall a very good performance and nice movie.

    • Author
      sputnik 8 years ago

      Glad you also liked it.

      • Anjanpur685Miles 8 years ago

        Very good review. Agree absolutely on the point that they should have shown more background of his days in training, what made him go there, or more on what made him change his ways…

  13. aryan 8 years ago

    Shahid, Jolly LLB win big at 61st National awards

    The 61st annual National awards for the year 2013 have been announced.

    Here’s looking at the winners in the major categories:

    Best Feature Film: Ship of Theseus

    Best Hindi Film: Jolly LLB

    Best Actor: Rajkummar Rao for Shahid (Hindi) and Suraj Venjaramoodu for Perariyathavar (Malayalam)

    Best Actress: Geetanjali Thapa for Liar’s Dice

    Best Director: Hansal Mehta for Shahid

    Best Supporting Actor: Saurabh Shukla for Jolly LLB

    Best Supporting Actress: Amruta Subhash for Astu (Marathi) and Aida El-Kashif for Ship of Theseus (English)

    Best Child Artist: SOmnath Avghade for Fandry (Marathi) and Sadhna for Thanga Meengal (Tamil)

    Best Children’s Film: Kaphal

    Best English Film: Coffin Maker

    Best Film on a Social Issue: Gulabi Gang

    Best Non-Feature Film: Rangbhoomi

    Best Popular Film providing wholesome entertainment: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

    Best Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi for Liar’s Dice

    Best Editing: VJ Sabu Joseph for Vallinam (Tamil)

    Best Sound Design: Bishwadeep Chatterjee for Madras Cafe (Hindi)

    Best Music Direction: Kabir Suman for Jatishwar (Bengali) and Shantanu Moitra for Na Bangaaru Talli (Telugu)

    Best Lyrics: Na Muthukumar for the song Ananda Yaazhai in Thanga Meengal (Tamil)

    Special Jury Award: Yellow (Marathi) and Miss Lovely (Hindi)

    Best Choreography: Ganesh Acharya for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

    Best actor winner Rajkummar Rao told’s Sonil Dedhia: “I am extremely happy and elated that I have won this award.

    “I am on cloud nine. I always wanted to win but never expected to win it for Shahid.”

    • Author
      sputnik 8 years ago

      Well deserved wins for Rajkumar Yadav aka Rajkummar Rao for Shahid, Hansal Mehta for Shahid and Saurabh Shukla for Jolly LLB

      Heard that the documentary Gulabi Gang won the award not the Madhuri-Juhi movie.

      Don’t agree with the Best Popular Film providing wholesome entertainment for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Had liked Jolly LLB and it was one of the best films of the year but Best Hindi film should have gone to Madras Cafe.

      Well deserved win for Best Sound Design for Madras Cafe (Hindi)

      “Best Choreography: Ganesh Acharya for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”

      For what Maston Ka Jhund or Slow Motion Angreza? LOL

  14. Author
    sputnik 7 years ago

    “Shahid has earned me my respect back”

    Miracles are just second chances – second chances when all hope was lost,” wrote Kaya McLaren. And editor Apurva Asrani’s life reflects just that. From Satya to Shahid it’s been two decades of playing hide and seek with fame and failure. But today if there’s one more name, which pops up along with Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao, it’s that of Apurva Asrani – the editor and screenwriter of the critically acclaimed films, Shahid and CityLights. The films have brought Apurva back in business after a long hiatus. “Shahid got me out of hibernation. I had moved out of the city. I was living in Bangalore; attending to my garden. I looked for success in the flowers that bloomed there,” smiles Apurva as we bond over butter chicken. Well, his story is not less riveting than the narratives he edits…

    Circa 1998. A 19-year-old Apurva became the talk of the town for editing Ram Gopla Varma’s cult classic Satya. Massive appreciation, Filmfare Award… everything was going for him. “That kind of high can never be replicated. Suddenly, I was being taken seriously. My parents accepted the fact that opting out of traditional education wasn’t a bad decision after all.”

    What baffles is why the talents of Satya didn’t stick together and do more films as a team. “Satya reached cult status. Talents like composer Vishal Bhardwaj, actor Manoj Bajpayee, Sandeep Chowta (background score) and writer Anurag Kashyap were part of this film. The challenge is to stick together and replicate the success. It’s like marriage. The sex gets better when you get to know each other more. But at that point everyone wanted their individual place under the sun. Unfortunately, the team spirit dissolved. We all were on TV talking about the film. Then there were arguments like you spoke about him but not me, you took the credit for writing, etc. These things pulled us apart.”

    Apruva’s next two films after Satya were Snip and Chhal. The films got him awards but failed to garner audiences. So he chose commercial films like Om Jai Jagdish and Out Of Control. And then everything crashed. Both films bombed at the box-office. “I don’t regret doing Om Jai Jagdish. But Out Of Control backfired. Vashu Bhagnani was the only one who offered me a film again after Om Jai Jagdish – that is Out Of Control and I jumped at it. The hope was that it would be what Om Jai Jagdish could not be – an out and out commercial hit. There was greed in me to taste big commercial success.”

    He continues, “The director (Ramanjit Juneja) and producer Vashuji had a fallout and weren’t seeing eye to eye. Vashuji would ask me to shoot portions of the film. I had fun directing. When the film was ready and I was editing it, I couldn’t connect with it. We had shot a wacky film… scenes were written on set, they were shot randomly. I realised that I had made a mistake. I got immense flak for the film. So I went from someone who was called a whizkid to being called someone who made a piece of shit. Funnily, Out Of Control made more money than Satya.”

    That explains why he stepped back and didn’t do any films between 2003 and 2008. “I did other things instead. I worked for a television channel; I did promos for films. I never deserted my craft. I just stayed away from the film industry. I believed I had let people down. That urged me to move out of the city. Because in the city, I ended up doing promos for the same filmmakers. My ego was crushed.”

    Apurva moved to London and got busy with theatre productions. After a few years he came to Mumbai and took up Nagesh Kukunoor’s Aashayein and Tasveer 8×10. “With Tasveer 8×10, Nagesh made the same mistake what I had made with Out Of Control. I fought with Nagesh and told him that he couldn’t go commercial with this film. Fed up,
    I moved to Bangalore.”

    There he got a chance to understand himself. “I discovered my love for cooking, found a best friend in my dog, felt happy when the flowers bloomed in my garden and wrote a lot. I made short films too. It was a peaceful life. It was a challenge that I could exist as a self-respecting man without awards and the tag of being a celebrated editor.”
    And then opportunity knocked once again. “One day I got an email from Hansal Mehta with a film’s poster. It had Rajkummar Rao’s silhouette. The poster had the working title of the film and the credits read – directed by Hansal Mehta, produced by Anurag Kashyap and edited by Apurva Asrani. I understood my bad phase had ended. I immediately moved back to Mumbai.”

    But readjusting to the city was a struggle. The film was independent and the team didn’t know if they would be shooting the next day. “We didn’t know when the next funds would be coming in. We put our angst into making this film. After Shahid, I edited Jalpari and Children Of War. I noticed they were all human rights stories. Somewhere, through the years, I had become an activist myself. I could express myself through these films.”

    The success of Shahid was followed by CityLights. “Shahid has earned me my respect back. When we showcased Shahid at the Mumbai International Film Festival, people went ballistic. I didn’t witness that kind of response even during Satya. I’m proud of Satya and I’m grateful to Ramu but it seemed that I would just remain a one-film wonder. But when producer Guneet Monga introduced me as the editor of Shahid and CityLights, I realised I didn’t have to rely on my old credentials.

    Now I’m back to the point whereI had left. It’s like a rebirth with an understanding of the life gone by.” He continues, “This time around I don’t have delusions. Earlier I rested on my laurels. Now I’ve finished one film and I’m on the next.” Now, he’s taken on a light comedy film called Dharam Sankat Mein. “I love coming to work. My colleagues are Paresh Rawal, Anu Kapoor and Naseeruddin Shah. They make me laugh all the time.” Though he has a passion for directing, he has put those plans on hold for some time now. “I’ve just hit the purple patch. I want to enjoy this phase now.”


  15. Author
    sputnik 7 years ago

    First look of Manoj Bajpayee from Hansal Mehta’s next where he plays a gay professor. Rajkumar Yadav who now is Rajkummar Rao is playing a journalist in the movie.

Leave a reply

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?