Khufiya review: Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest Tabu-starrer is a prized asset-turned-liability


Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest espionage thriller, “Khufiya,” promised to be a tantalizing addition to the genre. With the ever-watchable Tabu in the lead role, the film had all the ingredients to captivate its audience. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that “Khufiya” struggles to maintain its intrigue and fails to keep viewers invested. In this review, we’ll delve into the highs and lows of this espionage drama, exploring the plot, characters, and the overall execution of the film.

The Intriguing Premise

The premise of “Khufiya” is undeniably delicious. Set in 2004, the film is steeped in intrigue and distrust. Senior intelligence operative Krishna Mehra, also known as KM (played by Tabu), is called in to lead a surveillance operation. Her junior colleague, Ravi Mohan (played by Ali Fazal), has been using the agency’s copier excessively, sparking suspicions. However, the twist in the tale is that Ravi is not leaking state secrets for personal gain but out of what he believes is patriotism. His wife, Charu (played by Wamiqa Gabbi), may also be involved.

For KM, who carries a personal wound from her professional life, getting on board for this mission requires more than just duty; it’s a chance for her to seek revenge. She names the operation “Project Brutus,” a nod to Vishal Bhardwaj’s penchant for literary references. Tabu’s portrayal of KM adds depth to the character, infusing her with controlled chaos reminiscent of her roles in “Andhadhun” (2018) and “Haider” (2014).

Complex Character Dynamics

The film’s strength lies in the complexity of its characters. KM’s journey is not limited to espionage; it also encompasses a recent sexual awakening and her strained relationship with her teenage son. Her interactions with Hina Rehman (played by Azmeri Haque Badhon), a Bangladeshi informant, add layers to her character. Badhon’s performance is captivating, even though her character sometimes veers into the realm of a seductress, set against the backdrop of terror plots.

As the story progresses, Ravi’s family life is contrasted with the espionage world. He shuttles between home and work, narrating heroic tales to his young son. Charu, on the other hand, enjoys the mundane pleasures of life. These characters, while intriguing, often feel like they belong in a different story.

A Rushed Second Half

The second half of the film fast-forwards six months into the future, a narrative device that can be jarring if not executed seamlessly. “Khufiya” expects viewers to suspend disbelief as it introduces a remarkable transformation in Charu’s character. From a shocked mother separated from her son, she evolves into a high-stakes covert operative. While Gabbi’s performance is commendable, this transformation strains credibility.

The film manages to tie up its plot contrivances towards the end, infusing some humor into the mix. However, despite its grim undertones and whistling background score, “Khufiya” fails to leave a lasting impression. For a director renowned for masterpieces like “Maqbool” (2003) and “Omkara” (2006), this film falls short, feeling more like a liability than an asset.



“Khufiya” had the potential to be an exceptional espionage thriller, but it ultimately struggles to deliver on its promises. While Tabu’s performance shines through, the film’s convoluted plot and rushed character developments detract from its overall impact. Despite its moments of intrigue, “Khufiya” fails to leave a lasting mark, making it a forgettable addition to Vishal Bhardwaj’s filmography.


Is “Khufiya” worth watching?

“Khufiya” has its moments, especially with Tabu’s performance, but it falls short of expectations. Whether it’s worth watching depends on your interest in espionage dramas.

What sets “Khufiya” apart from other spy thrillers?

The film attempts to delve into the personal lives of its characters, adding depth to their stories, which is somewhat unique for the genre.

Are there any standout performances in the film?

Tabu and Azmeri Haque Badhon deliver compelling performances that add depth to their respective characters.

Does “Khufiya” have a satisfying ending?

The film ties up its plot threads, but the rushed character transformation in the second half may leave some viewers unsatisfied.

Where can I watch “Khufiya”?

“Khufiya” is available for streaming on Netflix.

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