Article Hindi

How Meghna Gulzar and her team recreated the Pakistan of 1971 in India for Raazi

The key responsibility lay on the shoulders of production designer Subrato Chakraborty.

Mayur Lookhar

Raazi, starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal, has got rave reviews and is doing well at the box office, too. The film tells the story of a young Kashmiri woman who was married into a Pakistani army household in 1971 and acts as a spy for Indian intelligence.

However, one of the biggest challenges for director Meghna Gulzar was to recreate the Pakistan of 1971 in India. The makers have now released a behind-the-scenes video of how this task was carried out.

“When you are making a true-life film, the responsibility of authenticity is very heavy,” Meghna says in the video.

The key responsibility lay on the shoulders of production designer Subrato Chakraborty. “It should look as if we have created something. It should look as if we are in that zone,” says Chakraborty.

The world she creates is very real: Alia Bhatt on Raazi director Meghna Gulzar

Naturally, the team would not have got permission to shoot in Pakistan. So, it recreated the Rawalpindi of 1971 in Malerkotla, Punjab. The film also needed to create the winter season during summer.

“Locations were very important. It had to look like Pakistan but, at the same time, it had to look 'period'. The heat added to the stress. Cheating a winter month in the hottest month of the year, that was very hard,” says Bhatt in the video.

The team shot in an actual market where it covered the signboards of existing shops with Urdu signboards to make it resemble a Rawalpindi market of 1971.

Raazi title song: Arijit Singh brings alive Sehmat's conviction in an endearing track

Sehmat Khan (Bhatt) is married to Pakistani soldier Major Iqbal Syed (Kaushal), who hails from an army family. The Syeds are shown to be living in a sprawling bungalow in an army cantonment area. The family uses American cars popular in the 1960s. The Syed household exterior was shot at a circuit house in Punjab, while the set for the interiors was built in Mira Road, near Mumbai.

"Since the exterior of the house was shot in Punjab, and the interior was in Mumbai, we had to ensure that there is no jump cut," says Chakraborty.

“It was surreal to walk into the circuit house in Punjab, because we felt like we were walking into the set at Mira Road. He [Chakraborty] had got down the dimensions identical to the inch,” says Meghna.

Raazi is not a quintessential India-Pakistan war film: Vicky Kaushal 

Chakraborty's efforts got a huge thumbs up from Meghna's father, the legendary writer-poet Gulzar, who said he 'felt at home'.

The vintage cars also posed a challenge. “Most of the times, these vehicles are not in good condition," explains Meghna "When they had to give the shot, they wouldn’t start. The production team had to push the car. The shot got delayed, with the light running out. I think picture vehicles in a period film are a character by themselves!”

It was also a task for the costume designers to ensure that the characters looked realistic. “Her [Meghna's] entire thing was a very realistic approach to costumes in the 1970s and not to go retro, filmi about it,” says costume designer Maxima Basu.

Bhatt loved the many salwar-kameezes she wore in the film. “The costumes of Sehmat are one of my favourites," she says in the video. "My most fun and comfortable has been through this film. I love wearing salwar-kameez, these soft pastel colours."

“I was very sure that I wanted Sehmat in pastels. I wanted her to be feminine in this soft, flowy silhouette because we are used to the stereotypes that if a woman is doing action or playing a character that is going to do physical things, she needs to be in masculine, tight, dark clothes. I really wanted to go against the stereotype on this one,” says the director explaining her choice.

Raazi review: Alia Bhatt adds another incredible story to her name

Watch the behind-the-scenes video below: