Netflix Khufiya Review: Spy Drama with Tabu and Wamiqa Gabbi, A Fair Review

Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the film is streaming on Netflix.
Khufiya NetflixKhufiya Review: Spy Drama with Tabu and Wamiqa Gabbi

Director: Vishal Bhardwaj 

Writers: Vishal Bhardwaj, Rohan Narula 

Cast: Tabu, Azmeri Haque Badhon, Ali Fazal, Wamiqa Gabbi, Navnindra Behl, Ashish Vidyarthi, Atul Kulkarni 

Duration: 157 mins 

Streaming on: Netflix

Khufiya is a movie that has moments that pull you in, but overall, it feels a bit jumbled. It’s like trying to describe a Vishal Bhardwaj film with simple phrases – it just doesn’t do justice to what’s right or wrong with the story. There are different layers and ideas at play, some work well while others fall short. It’s a mix of Shakespearean influences and the style of Sriram Raghavan, with moments of brilliance and some awkwardness.

The movie follows a recurring theme of three. It takes place in three different countries, with the third one being a surprise. The main character, a grieving spy, remembers her lover’s unique habit of sneezing three times. The story jumps back and forth between 2004 and three years earlier. There are three almost-romances, three languages spoken, and a family in India being watched closely. It’s like three is a significant number here, which matches the movie’s uneven feel.

Overall, Khufiya has its engaging moments, but it also feels a bit disjointed. It’s like trying to sum up a complex Vishal Bhardwaj film with simple phrases – it just doesn’t capture all the nuances. The movie plays with the theme of three in various ways, which adds an interesting layer to the story. However, it might leave you feeling like something is missing in the bigger picture.

Ali Fazal In Khufiya on NetflixAli Fazal In Khufiya on Netflix

Establishing the Spy Scenario

Khufiya introduces us to Krishna Mehra (Tabu), an officer in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Her mission? To avenge her lover, a spy for National Security Intelligence, who was tragically killed. Known as KM by her colleagues, she’s determined to uncover the mole within the agency, Ravi Mohan (Ali Fazal), and trace back to the puppeteer pulling the strings. This personal quest also symbolizes political tensions.

Then there’s Ravi, a complex character. He’s a traitor with a strong sense of patriotism, cleverly posing as a devoted family man – a loving husband, dutiful son, and doting father. The story also brings in Charu (Wamiqa Gabbi), Ravi’s wife, whose peaceful family life takes an unexpected turn. In short, Khufiya has a lot going on, but it sometimes feels unsure of its main focus. When these storylines collide, there’s potential for sparks, yet the anticipated explosion never quite happens. The film teeters on the edge of a breakthrough, but never quite gets there.

The movie is filled with vibrant elements. From using surveillance as a form of intimacy to clever Shakespearean code names like ‘Portia’ and ‘Brutus’, there’s a rich tapestry of elements at play. There are also poignant songs, an older character (Navnindra Behl) grappling with her own beliefs, and a play on Western characters viewed through an ‘Eastern’ lens. The introduction of a mysterious spy (Azmeri Haque Badhon) adds intrigue, while there’s a palpable tension, almost romantic, between characters and nations. The scene with a mole exchanging top-secret documents during a screening of Main Hoon Na, a 2004 comedy with espionage elements, is a clever touch.

However, despite these vivid elements, the overall structure of Khufiya feels incomplete. It’s as if the threads of the story are still being woven together. Perhaps the challenge lies in the fact that Khufiya, based on Amar Bhushan’s spy novel Escape to Nowhere, feels like a movie with the DNA of a series. It tries to encompass both long-form storytelling and feature-length ambitions, leaving the narrative somewhat uncertain.

Tabu in khufiya

Tabu’s Role as KM:

In this Vishal Bhardwaj film, there’s an expectation for it to be more polished and intellectually stimulating. We find ourselves filling in the gaps, especially when it comes to Krishna’s complex inner world. She’s dedicated to her work, with an ex-husband (Atul Kulkarni) and a resentful 19-year-old son. Interestingly, her habits of drinking and smoking aren’t portrayed as defining traits. The dynamic between the former spouses is touching, as he’s the one who truly understands her. However, the film attempts to present Krishna’s journey in motherhood as a tale of personal growth. Unfortunately, this subtext isn’t sufficiently developed, and the execution feels lacking. It’s as if the film isn’t entirely convinced that Krishna should be the central character, creating a noticeable distance.

This dynamic echoes a similar relationship between Tabu and Irrfan in Talvar (2015), where subtle performances convey layers of hidden history. In Khufiya, Tabu embodies Krishna as a haunted woman who relies on her job for emotional fulfillment. When the mole’s family falls under surveillance, it triggers memories of her own experiences. She grapples with balancing her past and future. Suspicion arises regarding Charu’s involvement due to Krishna’s own experiences as a woman navigating a life of deception, mirroring that of her late lover.

Wamiqa Gabbi
Wamiqa Gabbi In Khufiya On Netflix

Character Dynamics

The film introduces intriguing dynamics between the characters, such as the surveillance-as-love-language theme and the use of Shakespearean codenames. However, some elements feel underdeveloped, leaving the audience wanting more.

Issues and Ambiguities

Certain aspects of the film, like Charu’s character, fall short of their potential. The portrayal seems more like a male fantasy than a well-rounded depiction. Additionally, the film grapples with balancing its personal and political voices, resulting in a somewhat rushed climax.

Overall Review

Khufiya is a spy thriller with moments of intrigue, but it falls short of fully embracing its unique elements. Tabu’s performance stands out, but the film could benefit from stronger character development and a clearer narrative direction.

Overall, Khufiya offers a watchable experience, but it leaves the audience wanting a bit more clarity and depth in its storytelling.

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