"By subjecting me to injustice, the Lord taught me the importance of fairness. By throwing pain, humiliation, and torture my way, he taught me to be strong......." the voice-over by the film's protagonist starts director Hansal Mehta's 'Shahid', released recently. It's based on the true story of the controversial human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, gunned down in cold blood in 2010, for defending a 26/11 accused, who was acquitted later.
The devastating impact of Mumbai riots prompts the protagonist to join a Pak terrorist camp. But he changes his mind and returns home, only to be thrown into Tihar Jail where the cops try to get a confession out of him for his suspected terrorist links. The jail stint again changes him and after release, he gets an LLB to help innocents labeled terror suspects without evidence. For seven years, Shahid Azmi got 17 acquittals for suspects in all.
Mehta's film questions the hypocrisy of our legal system. In a scene that bites with honesty, Shahid asks the court whether an accused named Matthew, Donald, Suresh, or More, would be meted out the same injustice as was his client Zaheer. The film apperas totally convincing thanks to its remarkable casting and their near-perfect performances.
Prabhleen Sandhu plays Shahid's wife Mariam, who evokes depth and real feeling. Besides, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub (Dhanush's friend in Raanjhanaa), is terrific as Shahid's sibling Khalid. Expectedly, it's the protagonist Shahid played by Rajkumar Yadav, who provides the real soul to this bold film. Relying on effortlessly underplayed, natural acting over loud theatrics, he delivers paisa vasool after Kai Po Che. The film itself is brave and unsparing in its stinging portrayl of reality and oozes with rare-to-find sincerity not found in most Hindi films. A well-crafted and gripping tale that keeps you glued to your seats till the end. A must-watch.