I had entered the competition and won tickets to the Indian Melbourne Film Festival, and it was with great hopes of random song and dance sequences, love at first sight, and Amitabh Bachchan that I went and saw the film Shahid.
Despite these hopes of mine being hastily dashed, I did not leave disappointed. Shahid tells the true story of Shahid Azmi, an Indian Muslim lawyer who, following his own false imprisonment, dedicates his career to defending those wrongly accused of terrorism under the Indian Prevention of Terrorism Act. Following notable acquittals in his early cases, Shahid goes on to represent the accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. In defiance of death threats, Shahid never gives up his commitment to securing justice for the often vulnerable accused, which ultimately ends in his murder.
While the director has dramatised some scenes, the core of the movie is a faithful representation of Shahid Azmi's work and his unwavering commitment to justice in the face of adversity. The themes of the movie include integrity and access to justice and show why a robust criminal justice system is necessary.
Although this movie did not convert my hard-edged corporate law viewing companion into an emergent criminal defence lawyer, she did emerge inspired and one thoroughly enjoyed movie richer. I would highly recommend this movie for anyone who is keen on human rights, criminal law, defending any kind of underdog or procrastinating from studying for DR (tenuous link to access to justice issues, anyone?!).
[The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne returns in 2015]