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Rarely comes a movie that holds you by the scruff of your neck, steering you through the crowds to release you right by the side of the protagonist, leaving you to draw your own conclusions of what happened next to a young man and a city. Shahid is the kind of film where the viewer is never spoon fed a linear course of action, you-the viewer, are part of the story. Yes, you were part of the story when the real life Shahid was picked up from his home in Mumbai, you may have come across the newspaper revelations of a jihadi sympathizer now taking on the “system”, you may have speculated about the real life Shahid’s motivations, a young man’s loyalties to his state as he takes on the cause of the (alleged) foot soldiers of terrorist networks, until some faceless characters forever put an end to this story. Or did they? Now someone turns back the pages once more. Has your standpoint changed?
Rarely comes a movie where you step out of the cinema and want to clutch the hands of people you meet “Here, here is a movie, you just have to watch”.
Rarely comes a movie where the clichéd lines of natural actors make sense, where you have a camera that is more of the human eye, of characters that are complex (as real life is); where you meet women who are not madonnas, and are not whores (Hansal Mehta and Tabu gave us the wonderful Kamya in Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!Of course the characters in this film are less mercenary than her but they are just as refreshing).
It is quite fortuitous that in a year where this country has debated about “criminal reform”, incarceration, and death penalties we have a story about how at times the “reform system” does work and as in real life it is up to the inmate of what they make of their time there. Yes, Shahid’s years in jail seem like the English public school experience that some popular authors have compared jail to; and there are moments it seems that prison allows you to live and appreciate a more mindful life; but as I said the movie as with everything else allows you to read some stories again asking you once more Has Your Standpoint Changed?
So a younger Shahid Kazmi, disturbed by a changed Mumbai of the 1990s takes off to a terrorist training camp—and real life now imitating reel life in a scene that seems inspired by Khuda Ke Liye, flees the camp when he witnesses how flawed their vision and ideology is. He returns home only to be picked up by the authorities and in his unfair incarceration his redemption begins.