Shahid is a 2013 Indian Hindi-language biographical drama film directed by Hansal Mehta. Jointly produced by Anurag Kashyap, UTV Spotboy and Sunil Bohra, it is based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010. The film stars Rajkummar Rao in the titular role; Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Prabhleen Sandhu and Baljinder Kaur appear in supporting roles.
Mehta took a break after some of his films were box-office failures. When he heard about Azmi’s murder, he felt the need to make a film about his life. He began his research for the film nearly three months after Azmi’s murder. Mehta met writer Sameer Gautam Singh, who wrote the screenplay after researching Azmi’s life and spending months interviewing Azmi’s family. Apurva Asrani did additional work on the screenplay with Mehta and also served as the film’s editor. Anuj Dhawan was the director of photography.
Shahid had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City programme in 2012. It was screened at several other film festivals including the 14th Mumbai Film Festival, the New York Indian Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival of Stuttgart, the Dubai International Film Festival and the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. The film was awarded the Silver Gateway Trophy at the Mumbai film festival while Mehta won the Best Director award. Mehta also won the best director award at New York Indian Film Festival and at the Indian Film Festival of Stuttgart. It was released theatrically in India on 18 October 2013 and met with critical acclaim. Rao received the Best Actor Award and Mehta the Best Director Award at the 61st National Film Awards ceremony
Shahid Azmi and his family are terrorised during the Bombay riots, when hundreds of Hindus and Muslims died. Later he goes to Kashmir and spends a brief period at a terror training camp but soon returns after witnessing an execution. He moves back to Mumbai where he is arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, for an alleged conspiracy to assassinate some politicians. His brother Arif Azmi tries to bail him out but fails. Shahid is tortured by police and forced to admit to the crime, after which he spends seven years at Tihar Jail in New Delhi. During his incarceration Omar Sheikh tries to brainwash him. Another inmate, Ghulam Navi Waar, inspires him to begin his college education, and once he is acquitted of the charges, he studies law in Mumbai.
After receiving his law degree, Shahid works with lawyer Maqbool Memon for a few months, before starting his career as an independent lawyer with the financial support of his elder brother Arif. During this process he meets Mariam, a Muslim divorcee, and marries her. Shahid soon starts picking up cases of Muslims charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). He fights many cases pro bono in consultation with non-governmental organizations. Shahid’s first major success as a defence lawyer is winning an acquittal, due to lack of evidence, for Arif Paanwala who was arrested under POTA for the 2002 Mumbai bus bombing.
Shahid represents the accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul, and the 2006 Malegaon bombings case. He is criticised for supporting terrorists and starts getting threatening calls that disturb his family life. On one occasion, Shahid’s face is blackened by assailants outside the court room. While defending Faheem Ansari in the 2008 Mumbai attacks case, he is shot by two gunmen in his office and dies on the spot. Later, Ansari is shown to be acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court of India due to lack of evidence.
Rajkummar Rao as Shahid Azmi
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Arif Azmi
Tigmanshu Dhulia as Maqbool Memon
Kay Kay Menon as Ghulam Navi Waar
Prabal Panjabi as Omar Sheikh
Prabhleen Sandhu as Mariam
Vivek Ghamande as Faheem Ansari
Baljinder Kaur as Ammi