Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Tabu, Ali Fazal, Wamiqa Gabbi, Atul Kulkarni, Ashish Vidyarthi, Azmeri Haque, Shataf Figar
Where: Streaming on Netflix
Rating: 3.5 stars
Based on author Amar Bhushan’s Escape To Nowhere, Khufiya, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj is a tense, suspense-filled thriller that encapsulates a RAW agent’s strive to uncover the mole in her unit, when his dangerous intentions lead to a mysterious murder of another colleague.
Tabu plays Krishna Mehra, a clever move by director Vishal Bhardwaj to flip the gender of his principal protagonist. Mehra is torn between her duty towards her country and her inexplicable, unconditional feelings towards her colleague, whom she has lost to the hands of the enemy, because a fellow agent in her own unit has been leaking out key secrets that concern national security, at large.
Her suspicions lead her to track down the movements of fellow agent Ravi Mohan (Ali Fazal), who is otherwise your average Joe living the perfect family life with wife Charu (Wamiqa Gabbi), their little son and his aged mother.
Bhardwaj’s direction masterfully ensures that the audience is engaged in a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase between Mehra and her suspects. Tabu easily delivers another knockout performance in the film, which is frankly, expected by her ardent fans. Using her expressive eyes to her advantage, she walks the tightrope act between playing a shrewd officer who is watchful while also dealing with her own demons, which include a failed marriage, shaky parenting and unfulfilled love. But it’s also Wamiqa’s moment to deliver another effective performance, exactly a week after she starred in Bhardwaj’s Charlie Chopra And The Mystery Of Solang Valley. This is clearly the young actress’ year. Wamiqa’s act as Charu could easily be reduced to a fly-on-the-wall in the hands of a lesser director. But with able guidance by the Bhardwaj, Wamiqa does a fine act between playing a woman who loves her stolen moments of embracing her sensuality but also being uninhibited when it comes to displaying hurt and vulnerability. Ali is an effective casting choice to play Ravi because his effortless charm can trick you into disbelieving that he is capable of possible harm. Atul Kulkarni and Ashish Vidhyarthi offer heft to their respective roles. A word of appreciation is also reserved for Azmeri Haque who plays Mehra’s fellow agent Heena Rehman. She holds an arresting presence in her brief scenes with Tabu. Shataf Figar as Brigadier Mirza proves that he is an apt casting choice when it comes to portraying a commanding man in uniform.
Written by Bhardwaj and Rohan Narula, Khufiya benefits from a reliable source material in Bhushan’s novel. With espionage and global terror as its backdrop, the film offers a complex take on the challenging lives that intelligence agents across the world face and how it affects their personal and mental well-being.
Yet another worthwhile offering by Bhardwaj, which makes for a perfect weekend binge. The film can be viewed on Netflix.