3 Compelling Reasons Why ‘Khufiya’ Is A Celebration Of Feminine Power!

In the garb of a spy thriller, Khufiya is a celebration of the spirit of women. An ode to the understated feminine energy

The newly minted espionage thriller Khufiya by Vishal Bhardwaj is out on Netflix, and the verdict is divided. Some think the build-up is weak; others believe the plot falters after the first few minutes while it’s too long and tedious for many of us.

I agree with the general sentiments, but Khufiya has its merits. While the screenplay may not have edge-of-the-seat moments or suspense, it still has its strengths. The moments and subplots that make one sit up and take notice.

The powerful actors shine brilliantly in Khufiya. But what is more surprising is the unique perspective, the feminist lens used to project and portray the story. The film has enough of those moments. Let me cite a few.

*Spoilers alert* 

Sometimes, you gotta be a beauty AND a beast!

Nikki Minaj’s words about being a girl boss are brought alive on the screen by the fabulous trio of Tabu, Wamiqa Gabbi and Azmeri Haque Badhon with style, elan and then some.

All three play characters that are poles apart. Nevertheless, if you look closely, you recognise the common thread—these beauties aren’t afraid to be beasts.

Tabu slays as a fireball R&AW operative Krishna Mehra or KM. She is a badass boss, daring, gutsy, and not just a pretty face. KM personifies the perfect woman mentor—cautious yet adaptable, empathetic, willing and supportive. Someone who grits her teeth and gets down and dirty alongside you. But not without giving you the taste of some tough love.

Wamiqa Gabbi plays the clueless, docile housewife, Charu, who transforms into a ferocious, revenge-seeking adversary for her child. How a gullible girl who smoked weed and grooved to old Bollywood songs becomes a worthy opponent to her shrewd husband is worth a watch.

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Azmeri Haque Badhon is Heena Rehman, aka Octopus, an undercover agent who works for KM. Though tormented by her personal demons—Heena is no damsel in distress. The woman is as adept at forging a hell ride for the enemies as she is at rolling round rotis in the kitchen.

Being unapologetically yourself

There are beautiful moments in Khufiya that capture the sentiment.

Krishna Mehra (Tabu) is unapologetic about not knowing how to wear a sari, her sexual identity, and the sorry state of her cooking skills. She carries a conflicted relationship with her estranged husband (Atul Kulkarni) and 19-year-old son with almost a practised ease.

Similarly, Charu (Wamiqa Gabbi) knows fully well that the key to returning to her husband’s family lies in her being an obedient, eager-to-please housewife. She knows her value is measured by her expertise at keeping the house, kitchen skills and having her mother-in-law’s nap schedule down pat, and she milks it for all its worth. Her gentle fierceness is unlike something we have seen in recent Bollywood movies.

Badhon, as Heena Rehman, is the quintessential temptress, employing her charms to ensnare victims in deadly webs. She is not averse to using her beauty as a weapon. Heena takes pride in her shapeshifting abilities. In a flash, she transforms from being sweet and vulnerable to someone wicked and dangerous. Sexual power is just another arrow in her quiver.

Then comes Navnindra Behl, Gabbi’s mother-in-law, an elderly lady proficient in the art of emotional blackmailing. Her motives and means are questionable, but her survival skills are on point. She exploits her son, lies, cheats, manipulates, and even attempts a cold-blooded murder, all as a means to an end.

No matter the circumstances, these women fearlessly use their skills to achieve their desired outcomes. The morality of their actions is questionable, but it doesn’t stop them from executing them with great panache.

The poetic side of love

Unlike the flamboyant, chest-thumping, shout-from-the-rooftop love stories that Bollywood serves its audience, the romance is gauged, grounded and solemn—almost lyrical and poetic. The opening lines of the movie and a song about old love, ‘Mat Aana,’ suit the muted, melodious setting.

A bedroom scene between a resentful Charu and her devious husband is commendable for its silent power and lasting impact.

In the garb of a spy thriller, the movie is a celebration of the spirit of women. An ode to the understated feminine energy. It wins at many levels. Its ability to stand and hold its own in a world dominated by Jawans, Pathans and Jailors is enough of a victory. Don’t you agree?

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About the Author

Supriya Bansal

A Radiologist by profession, Supriya Bansal, spends most of her day inhabiting a monochromatic world consisting of different shades of grey ranging from black to white. She is an active member of many online writing read more...

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