ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Shadows of Doubt

National Film Award winner Shahid asks uncomfortable but important questions about how the Indian state regards Muslims and terrorism.


Among the more noteworthy wins at this year’s NationalFilm Awards is a movie whose journey mirrors that ofits subject – a fringe character who writes himself into history through his acts and gets acclaim and respect at the end of it.

Hansal Mehta’s 2012 drama Shahid, which bagged a Best Director and shared the Best Actor award in this year’s National Film Awards, is many movies wrapped into one – a biopic tracing key chapters in the life of its subject, a legal drama about the flaws and strengths of the Indian judicial system, and a new kind of “Muslim Social” that explores the issues and dilemmas facing members of India’s most significant minority. But most of all, it’s a tragedy. Its eponymous hero sets out to challenge the Indian state through terrorism but later embraces the Constitution and uses its framework and the very laws that trapped him to make his case for a just and humane society. Shahid survives a terrorist training camp, a long and often brutal incarceration, and the challenges of navigating the thickets of Indian law, but it’s his transition from near-radical to human rights champion that costs him his life.

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