Khufiya review: A Layered espionage drama with power-packed performances.
What: Khufiya - Bridge of Spies. There is something eerie and captivating about the worlds that Vishal Bharadwaj creates in his films.
His whodunit Charlie Chopra was steeped in the Agatha Christiesque-style mystery and now, the spy espionage drama Khufiya which is based on the true events of 2004 depicted in the bestseller book “Escape to Nowhere” penned by Amar Bhushan who served as the Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat.
Khufiya starts off intriguingly – an undercover spy is killed in an important mission when the mole in an intelligence divulges her intentions to the antagonist, a hardened agent relentlessly pursues him with a revengeful streak.
Tabu plays Krishna Mehra, aka KM, the agent working under Jeev (Ashish Vidyarthi) who leads the operation “Brutus” to nab the mole, Ravi Mohan (Ali Fazal) after her implant (wonderfully played by Azmeri Haque Badhon) is killed in the last mission, Octopus. An inquiry is launched, and Ravi is kept under elaborate surveillance without the knowledge of his family – his wife (a terrific Wamiqa Gabbi), mother (Navnindra Behl) and kid.
Known for his astute craft, Bharadwaj combines the elements of tension and human drama and comes up with a thriller that keeps you hooked. Khufiya navigates the personal and tragic lives of KM and Ravi while establishing the contours of espionage where loyalties were challenged, and betrayals became common.
The narrative hops between past and present and switches locales – from India to Bangladesh to South Dakota, US but never loses its focus from its central plot even though things unfold like a slow-burn drama (editor : A Shreekar Prasad), ably complemented by a haunting background music. Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi cranks his lenses and blesses with Khufiya a riveting appeal.
Art, intensity and aesthetics come naturally to the filmmaker, who plugs in varied rhythms of music for his characters – Ghazals for Tabu where she reminisces her old love (, electric guitar bolsters the music for a Godman who sings Kabir, Meera and Rahim. Rekha Bharadwaj, Arijit Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan lend voices to the beautiful compositions.
Khufiya – actors’ performance
Known to have strong female characters in his films, VB extracts compelling performances from Tabu and Wamiqa in Khufiya. Tabu’s KM is internally damaged – with the woes of a broken family and lost love, she is still determined to get the nemesis and avenge her loss. It’s a daring cocktail of grit, vulnerability, and valor that the actress portrays.
Wamiqa has an equally strong arc which undergoes a transition from a homemaker who puffs cigarettes and dances to old Bollywood tracks to a woman on a mission when tragedy strikes her marital life.
On the other hand, Ali Fazal impresses with a smart and measured performance. His Ravi is a fiery blend of evil, fear and regret. Shataf Figar is very good and Ashish Vidyarthi, Atul Kulkarni (as Tabu’s ex-husband) do justice to their respective parts.
Khufiya – final words
I go with 4 stars out of 5 for Vishal Bharadwaj’s Khufiya. There is a lot of steam in his world of lies, deceptions and secrets.
Khufiya is streaming on Netflix from 5th October 2023.