KHUFIYA is the story of a mole in India’s intelligence agency. The year is 2004. Krishna Mehra (Tabu) works for the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and is based in Dhaka. She comes across Heena Rehman (Azmeri Haque), who offers to spy for India in exchange for money, which she desperately needs for her father’s illness. Krishna agrees and while working with her, both fall in love. Unknown to Krishna, Heena is sent on a mission to eliminate Brigadier Mirza (Shataf Figar). Before she can do so, Mirza is informed of the plan. He eliminates Heena. A few months later, Krishna’s boss Jeev (Ashish Vidyarthi) learns that Ravi Mohan (Ali Fazal), an employee at RAW, told Bangladesh about Heena’s involvement, leading to her death. His office is bugged and that’s when the RAW finds out the truth about Ravi. But to gather more evidence, his house too is riddled with surveillance cameras. Krishna, too, is made a part of this operation which she names ‘Brutus’. While spying on them, Krishna learns about Ravi’s bond with his wife Charu (Wamiqa Gabbi), son Kunal (Swastik Tiwari) and Ravi’s mother Lalita (Navnindra Behl). At the same time, Krishna also gets the shock of her life when she finds out who Ravi is actually working for. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
KHUFIYA is based on the book ‘Escape To Nowhere’ by Amar Bhushan. The story is one of the strengths of the film as it’s very arresting. Rohan Narula and Vishal Bhardwaj’s screenplay does justice to the superb plot in hand. The focus is chiefly on the characters and the madness that ensues in their lives. Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are sharp and well-worded.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is exemplary and this is one of his best works. We have seen films in this zone like PARMANU (2018), RAAZI (2018), BABY (2015) or even in Hollywood like MUNICH  to name a few. Thanks to his execution, one doesn’t think of these films or draw parallels with them. Not a single moment is boring as a lot is happening. A few twists are unexpected and will leave audiences amazed. At the same time, the way the equation between certain characters changes is seen to be believed.
On the flipside, a few developments are confusing. It also takes a while to realize that the flashback has commenced or ended. A simple text like ‘Dhaka – 6 months ago’ would have been helpful. Secondly, the way our agencies are able to hoodwink foreign officials in multiple places is a bit hard to digest. The climax is gripping but could have been more nail-biting.
KHUFIYA begins with a very memorable scene and sets the tone. If you feel the film will drop as the makers would take their time to introduce characters, you are mistaken. The makers waste no time in explaining the situation of Ravi. A few scenes that stand out are Krishna and her team bugging Ravi’s house, Charu dancing to ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani’, Krishna’s son blasting her mother, and what could be said as the interval point. In the second half, the scene where Ravi argues with his mother is funny. The pre-climax and climax are too good.
Speaking of performances, Tabu yet again gets to play a meaty role and she makes good use of it. There’s no false note in her act and as always, it’s a pleasure to see her in such challenging parts. Wamiqa Gabbi once again hits the ball out of the park after her acts in JUBILEE and CHARLIE CHOPRA & THE MYSTERY OF THE SOLANG VALLEY. She is fully convincing as the bored housewife who is at heart a filmy bug and a devastated mother who has lost the will to live. Here’s hoping she continues her great work as a talent like hers is rare. Azmeri Haque is the surprise of the film. She’s sure to become a talking point after the film’s release. Ali Fazal gets a bit overshadowed but leaves a mark nevertheless. Navnindra Behl is a bigger surprise of the film. See it to believe it! Shataf Figar and Ashish Vidyarthi are decent. Atul Kulkarni (Shashank) is fine in a special appearance. Swastik Tiwari, Lalit Parimoo (Home Minister Naren Mishra), Rahul Vohra (Wasan), Disney James (Kutty), Jan Graveson (Rachel Mcclane), Meet Vohra (Vikram; Krishna’s son), Virendra Vashisht (Sardar old man in RAW), Shashi Bhushan (Michael; who is spying from milk centre), Geeta (Priyanka Setia; Michael’s associate), Alexx O Nell (Dr David Langley) and Monica Rae (Langley’s wife) are fine in small roles. Rahul Ram (Yaar Jogiya) is superb.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s music doesn’t have a shelf life but is well woven into the narrative. ‘Mat Aana’ is the best of the lot followed by ‘Bujhee Bujhee’ and ‘Mann Na Rangaave’. ‘Tanhaai Hai’ and ‘Naa Hosh Chaley’ are okay. Vishal Bhardwaj’s background score adds to the thrill and mystery.
Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi’s cinematography is commendable. The locales of Alberta are well captured. T P Abid’s production design is detailed. Karishma Sharma’s costumes are realistic. The same applies to Harpal Singh’s stunts. A Sreekar Prasad’s editing is razor sharp.
On the whole, KHUFIYA is a well-made gripping saga. It works big time due to the intriguing plot, tight screenplay, twists and turns and exemplary performances by Tabu and Wamiqa Gabbi.