Mukhbir The Story of a Spy review: Zain Khan Durrani is as good as Raazi’s Alia Bhatt

Nov 12, 2022 09:46 AM IST

Mukhbir: The Story of a Spy review: The series from the directors of Naam Shabana and Special Ops, starring Prakash Raj and Adil Hussain, is a fitting tribute to the unsung spies.

Authentic spy dramas can never disappoint, be it Raazi or Mukhbir, but what makes them stand out is not just the action and gripping stories of spies but also how well they address the vulnerability of such chosen humans who may come back home in a rare occurrence but their souls may never recover. Inspired by true events, Mukhbir is one such story from the directors of Naam Shabana and Special Ops which can hardly go wrong with the concept. Set in the backdrop of the 1965 India-China war, the show tells the tale of one such spy who took the one-way road to Pakistan to make a contribution in winning the war without fighting. Safe to say, Mukhbir reminds of Raazi at crucial junctures but stands out with its story telling technique, the charm it creates of the 60s and the performances from its lead actors, especially Zain Khan Durrani.

ZZain Khan Durrani as Harfan in a still from Mukhbir: The Story of a Spy trailer.
ZZain Khan Durrani as Harfan in a still from Mukhbir: The Story of a Spy trailer.

A Kashmiri lad himself, Zain plays a Kashmiri orphan who goes around duping people around Delhi for a living. As Prakash Raj’s surveillance agency director sends him for a mission, he goes on to hit and try around various targets in order to get something concrete that can help in averting a war. Despite the weight of the responsibility, Zain doesn’t get bogged down in spirit. Just a few-projects old, Zain shines through with not just his good looks that come handy in wooing women like a photographer (Zoya Afroz) and a ghazal singer (Barkha Bisht), but in also expressing the vulnerability that resides behind his confident smile. Zain makes sure to not go overboard with any of the emotions to carve an endearing and real figure of Haasan who is carefully fitted into a Pakistani family with a missing member.

Though slightly slow in the beginning, the show does pick up in the later half as Zain’s Harfan changes his strategy to go closer to those in command in Pakistan. However, why he wasn’t trained in combat and firing, unlike the well-trained Alia in Raazi, remains a question. But the show still needs to be applauded for not walking down the jingoism lane and not making a superhero out of anyone. Also, for giving equal amount of respect to one more spy and giving his story the closure it deserves for his service to the story as well as the country. Here, Satyadeep Mishra does a decent job and hits hard by dominating the climax. Veena Mehta too makes the viewer fall in love with her as the doting grandma to Zain’s Harfan. While there is not much seen of Adil Hussain, Prakash Raj adds the subtle dose of fun we never knew we needed in least expected situations.

What makes Mukhbir a gripping watch as well as a pleasant one is the way Delhi of the 60s has been brought alive. The vintage cars and scooters look pretty on one side, and the infusion of ghazals in the plot accentuates the visual appeal on the other. Also, what comes as a huge surprise is when a short and straightforward, then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964-1966), says, “Gentleman, Kashmir may be a dream for Pakistan but I want Lahore for real.” Had the series released in a theatre, whistles and claps were definitely guaranteed. India taking a lead in proving that non-violence cannot be misinterpreted as cowardice, that is something the Indian audience has hardly ever seen being realised on screen. Not all from the current generation are aware of India actually crossing the line of control to capture Lahore in September, 1965.

After delivering a hit in Duranga and then Tripling season 3, Mukhbir is yet another consecutive win for ZEE5. It seems the streaming platform has finally entered the race to excel in the OTT space one show at a time.

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