Raazi Trailer! What Do We All Think?

Well, this is a fascinating trailer!  2018 continues to look like a much better year for films than 2017.  The old dinosaurs, Stars and Directors, are stepping back and new faces are getting a chance to shine.  This film is a perfect match of a new actor and a new creative team behind her.  Which came together to create a new story.

This trailer is just so well-made.  Forget the content, look at the way it builds.  The “hook” of the film is showing a young woman in the typical role of daughter, bride, and so on.  And then adding in the idea of her as a patriot, in a typical female patriot way, looking at the flag and so on.  Before, finally, revealing her training in fighting, spycraft, even shooting a gun.  Training which, chronologically, probably took place before the rest of the events in the trailer, but which they wanted to save for the end after easing us into the idea of her as a spy.

The other “hook” of the film is Alia’s face.  As soon as this movie was announced, I reacted with “Alia as a spy?  But she’s so young!” And that’s what the trailer is about.  Constantly returning to her face, reminding us how very very young this woman is, and fragile, and unprotected.

 

Now, here’s what I find really fascinating!  We have seen this movie before, but reversed.  That is, instead of a fragile young woman with a heart of steel, we had a steely woman with a heart of mush.  Remember Hero: Love Story of a Spy?  Preity agrees to become a spy partly for patriotism, but partly for love of Sunny Deol.  And her “reward” is being able to marry Sunny Deol.  And her tragedy is losing Sunny Deol.  Her story is a love story (oo oo!  I just got the title!), not a patriot story.

But this film, it is the opposite.  On the surface, Alia is in a love story.  She is a young fragile innocent woman married to a handsome young man, her life should revolve around him and her love for him.  But underneath the surface, she isn’t fragile at all, or innocent.  She is stronger than everyone else in the movie, and that is what makes her powerful, this hidden strength no one can imagine.

(Also, Alia doesn’t spend the whole movie carrying around a friggin’ lamb as a visual metaphor.  Nor is there a complicated bend over backward explanation to make her a Kashmiri Muslim girl who is technically by birth Hindu)

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36 thoughts on “Raazi Trailer! What Do We All Think?

  1. If you’re going to compare this to Hero: Love story of a spy (I think the title refers to it being the love story of Sunny Deol, not Preity), there’s another huge difference, which struck me right away, and in a disagreeable way. It is that Preity’s character never engages in any kind of covert or overt relationship, certainly not sexual. Here Alia’s character is actually getting married under false pretenses. I found that very jarring, as in “dishonorable.” If one considers marriage as a sacred undertaking, as many Indians do, this profound deceit as its basis is very, very disturbing.

    I knew nothing about this film before seeing its trailer here (not even that it was being made), and the trailer struck me as very “filmi.” The constant reassurances that it was “based on a true story” just left me very conflicted. On the one hand I am intrigued by the idea of these untold stories of heroism being brought forward now, but on the other hand I am wary of how much it has been “spiced up” to make a good film. In other words, I am concerned with how much actual “truth” there is in the story.

    But still, overall the trailer was intriguing. I may or may not watch the film.

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    • I’m very curious how they will handle the marriage. Because it is difficult to have sympathy for her if she is deceiving a man who thinks she loves him. I would expect that either he will be shown to be a cruel husband, so he broke the marriage bond before she did by abusing her. Or she will be shown to be conflicted and truly falling in love with her innocent husband. Based on the trailer, I am leaning towards the second. I’ve been wondering about this as well, since the film was first announced as based on a true story of a woman who spied on her husband. I was guessing they would go for “so cruel that the bonds of marriage are already broken”, but from the trailer it looks like they will do something a lot more complicated and try to deal with her competing identities as a wife, daughter, and patriot.

      On Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 10:31 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I also don’t understand why you say the trailer introduces Alia as a daughter and wife before showing that she’s a spy, when actually the trailer starts off talking about spies and unknown heroes and the 1971 war long before it introduces Alia’s character, and it still is talking about her as a spy!

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    • They did the same thing with Raid, and Gold. Maybe that is the new trend? I don’t mind it, if all the films are like Raid. That is, there is a small second layer to the plot that appears during the film, and also the small moments of the film are so enjoyable that it doesn’t matter if you already know what happened in the plot.

      Maybe it is an effort to defeat that “word of mouth” problem? Instead of building a promotion around keeping the plot a “mystery” and then once people have been spoiled on the plot, they don’t want to watch the film, the trailers reveal the plot but in a way that makes you want to watch the film even after knowing what happens.

      On Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 1:03 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I guess it serves the purpose if they want to defeat the “word of mouth”. But, personally for me there’s nothing left so I will just wait until it comes on youtube or some streaming platform.

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  3. Since its based off of a book, and there’re enough details on the internet, they probably thought giving away so much of the plot was ok. Also, the trailer shocks you (kind of) with the marriage bit, so when you watch the movie finally, you’re no longer shocked and are more accepting of that development.
    http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/That-spy-princess/article15446864.ece has pretty much all the plot the trailer had

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  4. For some reason, I was getting Fiza vibes and had to go and see who directed that film. Different directors, though I’m very glad that this is yet another high profile film with a female director (the Hindi film industry continues to be better than Hollywood in this respect). Alia has shown herself to be a very talented young actress, but this one looks like it could go either way in terms of her performance based on the scenes in the trailer. I’m hoping she nails it, of course, especially because I love this kind of spy thriller film (D-Day being one of my all time favorite films of all-time of any industry). The script seems a little cliched and predictable based on the trailer. I’m also just as interested in seeing how Vicky Kaushal is in the film. He’s fast becoming a favorite, too.

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    • I’m really hoping the flaws in the trailer are just because it’s the trailer. Alia is made to look innocent in order to shock the viewer at the end, but in the film we will know all along that she has hidden strength, and we are only seeing the predictable parts of the script but there is something more hidden within there as well.

      And yes! It almost feels like Hindi and Hollywood are the inverse of each other in terms of female workers. Hindi has very few on the ground level workers but a large number of tippy-top folks (Ekta Kapoor, for instance). Hollywood has a large number of bright young things running around, but very few tippy-top folks. They should really combine and just make an all female industry 🙂

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      • Why do u say there are few female ground level workers in Hindi films? My first office in Mumbai was right next to the Chandivalli studio and saw a lot of shooting there. There were a good number of female staff on the sets. Also when I was living in Lokhandwala, had few girls in the same apartment complex who were aspiring actors. From what they mentioned, there are a good number of female workers on the ground in costume, makeup, art direction, story boarding, casting & several other departments. I got the feel that except for the stars & directors, a film set is pretty much like any other office place in Mumbai where people work together irrespective of the gender & backgrounds.

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        • That’s good to hear! My impression is that at least until the industrialization/corporatization, the film industry was pretty firmly male, there are plenty of stories of heroines feeling uncomfortable on set because they were literally the only woman there. But it sounds like perhaps the changes around the new television job options, and the general move towards film being a respectable working professional type of job instead of a low class laborer type of job (for instance, “dressmen” previously being part of the male tailor tradition from the chawls, and now being something someone with a degree in fashion design would do) has lead to a more balanced gender divide.

          On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:17 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. https://youtu.be/ip7LySQ-eis This interview of Patralekha( the actress from citylights, don’t want to call her just Rajkumar Rao’s girlfriend) is so touching. She talks about how roles are not coming her way despite the fact that she got good reviews in her first film. She’s literally holding back tears throughout the interview. Makes you think how Alia got a Highway after such a bad performance in Student Of the Year or Ranbir got a lot of offers even after a collosal flop like Saawariya. And now other starkids like Jahnvi Kapoor and Sara Khan are being shoved upon us.

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    • Thank you for sharing that interview. Cdnt have been more appropriate for pointing out the difference in career paths of a star kid who had the perfect launch, mentored personally by a powerful producer/director, clicked & promoted continuously as the young wonderful actress & movies-such as the one this post is about-designed exclusively for her to reinforce the wonderful actress image v/s someone struggling to get her first film, second film, third film & so on while dealing with failures, bad roles, getting noticed by public & industry, building connections etc. Margret has a long post on nepotism which explains why it is a normal process in Hindi film industry. With the Alia success story that process is now perfected into a whole career model that the star kids can safely adopt & later present themselves as ‘Early successful leader from Bollywood’ on World economic forum.

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      • Alia on the World Economic Forum is too much. That was Kjo’s doing all the way. I’m not demeaning her saying she is dumb and all that, but that is not her area of expertise and she clearly looks out of place.

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        • Yes, I get what you are saying. It could so easily backfire, meant to make her look smart but actually makes her look stupid by putting her somewhere that she has no knowledge base for. It’s why I keep my blog posts Hindi-film focused as much as possible, I can sound smart in this one little area, but if I step out of it, I’ll just reveal the depths of my lack of knowledge, and it could even make people distrust me in the area that I actually DO know what I am talking about.

          It’s what happened with Alia’s Koffee appearance, she was weak on general knowledge and it made people discount her, even though at the same time she had just down the Highway performance which showed she was brilliant as an actress.

          On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:03 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Really interesting, thank you! I wonder why there is so little space for new actresses now? New actors I understand, we have talked about it over and over again, the increasing budgets and profile of films, the risk of an unknown actor, blah blah blah. But you could easily cast anyone in a role like Ajay’s wife in Raid without effecting the profile of the film in any particular way.

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      • Exactly,but I guess the heroes themselves recommend certain actresses. Ileana mentioned in an interview that she was offered Raid by Ajay Devgan while shooting for Baadshaho. So there you go, it’s a loop. You act with a star, they like you, and you get to do more films with them. Actresses like Patralekha aren’t even on the loop.

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        • So it does go back to the heroes. Actresses are part of their perks as stars. Not like they get to have sex with them, but if they are comfortable working with someone, they can request that person on their next film and the producers will figure “why not? One actress is as good as another”. I guess you could make the same argument about costume designers, choreographers, even directors, all the people that stars will be given the power to pick for themselves and the same familiar faces end up working over and over again. I’m still kind of mad about Ali Abbas Zafar, he’s a fine director, but he should not have been given Sultan or Tiger Zinda Hai, there was no spark of genius there, he had no special connection to the project, it was just that Salman felt comfortable working with him. I would have loved to see what a different director who really loved the script would have done with it.

          On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:05 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Well Salman comes as a package. He gets to recommend the director, the heroine, the choreographer, music director.. . which is why all of them try to be in his good books. Do you know about the feud between Salman and the singer Arijit Singh? Apparently a few years ago they kinda had a spat or something on an awards show, I forget the details. Arijit had sung the Jag Ghoomeya song I’m Sultan, but his track was replaced with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s version, obviously a decision taken by Salman. Arijit even apologized to him on social media, but his track never made it to the movie.

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          • That almost makes sense to me, because Salman is such a draw, from a business stand point you would weigh him against every other part of the film and pick him. But Ajay in Raid? It’s such an ensemble piece, Ajay was a draw, but not the biggest part of the film. It feels like the threw him the choice of heroine like a random bonus, the same way you might say “and we will give you a vanity van on the lot” or something. Just a general lack of concern for who plays that role, and the importance of it. Maybe I am miss reading it, but that’s how it feels.

            And all of this isn’t to say Illeana did a bad job! She was fantastic in that part. But it was also the kind of part that could have been played by a lessor known but equally talented actress.

            On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 11:14 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Excited about this for reasons other people mentioned (glad Vicky Kaushal is getting a good role!) but also because of Meghna Gulzar. I can’t say I enjoyed watching Talvar, because the story is so depressing, particularly since it’s true, but she tried something really interesting: a truly unbiased look at both sides of the case. She accomplished this by basically intercutting two stories, one in which the parents are guilty and one in which they are not. It has really good performances from Konkona and Neeraj in what are essentially the dual roles of the guilty parents and the innocent parents. I’m not sure the movie is completely successful–the innocent parents are a bit more believable–but it was a very interesting idea. She’s pretty comfortable with moral ambiguity, so it may not be a choice of Vicky is really cruel/Alia falls in love. She may go to an uncomfortable place of how far does patriotism go, which I would be down for.

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    • Miss Braganze, if I may ask a totally off topic question, you are in Japan, right? I’ve been seeing lots tweets from the Bahubali producers that Bahubali (both parts, I guess) has been playing in Japanese theaters for over 100 days now, and tomorrow (or maybe today) they are holding a “screaming screening” where audience will interact with the screen, or express their emotions out loud, or something. I’ve seen a lot of cosplay by young audience members, too — they post the pictures on twitter. So, what’s the deal? Is there really such widespread popularity, or is it more of a cult following (in the general sense, not in the Indian sense) where the appeal is limited to a small but dedicated and vocal group of fans?

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    • Semi-SPOILERS: according to the article someone else linked to, the real person and the real story started when an author met a young army officer who mentioned that his mother was a true patriot who spied for India without reward. The real story was that she returned to India, pregnant, and her son grew up a patriot. And (so far as I could tell from the article), she never married.

      So the marriage might be handled in a really interesting way, if she marries as a spy and returns to India, but also raises her husband’s son and never marries again. So she could be a strangely faithful wife and faithful patriot in a complicated way.

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      • That would be me! Yeah after reading the article, looks like the movie does explore that grey area – how far would you go for your country and that does look exciting. SPOILER ALERT** Also I found it nice that the author was patient enough to wait for Sehmat Khan to pass away before bringing her story to the world.

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        • It just occurred to me that they could even dig into sort of Ram themes. She gives up a happy marriage to someone she loves for greater good of the state.

          On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 12:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Moimeme, Bahubali cosplay, etc., is definitely a niche thing, and is probably mostly in Tokyo. But I was curious and googled it in Japanese and found out that a manga version is supposed to come out this year! So, someone must be watching it, but it hasn’t come out on streaming sites yet so it must be people in larger cities with lots of theaters. It was relatively popular in my little city, but that means 15 people showed up at the theater and not three.

            The Karan Johar/Alia + Meghna Gulzar thing definitely makes this a wild card and I’m interested to see how it goes.

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          • Thanks for replying, Miss Braganza! I read about the Manga version on Twitter, and that’s actually why I wanted to know how popular it was. I didn’t think they would go to a Manga version without some kind of built-in audience. One amusing aspect for me is that Bhallaladeva (and Rana Daggubati) seems to be the audience’s favorite character. They’re actually holding a special screening in Tokyo just for Bhallaladeva’s fans! (and it’s already sold out).

            I agree with you on Raazi.

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  7. To post a more on topic comment, yes, Meghana Gulzar being the director is encouraging, but then it is co-produced by Dharma and stars Alia, so can Karan Johar’s influence be discounted? He’s about as far from ‘moral ambiguity” as anyone I can think of. This is the aspect that makes me nervous.

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    • Well, he did pull off the Agneepath remake. Mostly by getting out of the way of the director’s vision. So maybe it will be the same thing here.

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      • But Agneepath didn’t have Alia in it, and he had a vested interest to make it a success, to make up for it flopping when his dad produced it.

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  8. I feel that the trailer has given away too much.They should have shown her conflict between her loyalty to her country and husband.And left it there.Instead the final sentence leaves no doubt that she’s going to choose her country.No suspense.Alia is a fine actress.But how come all the brilliant (young) heroine oriented scripts comes her way? About time Karan Johar stops holding her hand.She can do fine on her own.And until Alia’s time nepotism had certain limitations.The audience had some options of filtering out even though the actor/actress had a powerful backer.But Karan and Alia changed all rules.Yes, it’s going to be Jhanvi,Sara,Ananya and Navya from now on.

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    • Could it be because being a heroine is a better job than it used to be? Even as recently as when Alia’s big sister Pooja started out, reading old interviews and stuff it was clear that the Bhatt’s were using her because she was cheap and available and in the family, it wasn’t something she “wanted”. And then she switched to production and behind the scenes as soon as she could. Thinking back to the 1970s, there was little nepotism for heroines, because no film family wanted their daughter to be a heroine. So it was all these outsiders, models and so on, who were picked up. You can see the difference just in Karisma versus Kareena’s launch, Karisma went to work as a teenager in a punishing schedule, all sexed up in tiny clothes. And Kareena got this luxurious launch and respectable life. So now all the openings that used to go to outsiders because industry people wanted to keep their daughters away from this terrible job, are going to insiders because the job is a lot nicer now and you want your daughter to have it.

      On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 12:08 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That’s a perfectly reasonable wish for any parent. Only now it has become ridiculously easy for that wish to come true in the Hindi films. Gym, stylist, Karan Johar & you are all set. Also Karan gets to lord over this set of assured future superstars/wonderful actresses who all owe their careers to him.

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  9. The Bollywood folks had started launching their daughters from the 80s onwards.Mahesh Bhatt’s Aaj had the producer’s daughter Anamika Pal debuting opposite Kumar Gaurav.The movie was a heroine oriented project which wouldn’t necessarily have been handed over to a newcomer if she wasn’t the producer’s daughter.Then there’s Shashi Kapoor’s daughter Sanjana.

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