Some viewers might need a second rewatch or might need a break in between, but with enough patience, there’s a spy story here that’s more personal and political than expected.
If you’re looking for exotic locations, glamorous spies, and dramatic shoot-outs, Khufiya is not the espionage film you’re looking for. Like the original novel it’s based on, the film adaptation is a complex, intricate spy story where countries try to interfere with each other’s affairs, and agents handle the dry and dirty work to achieve this. With the true-story-based details of the source material, writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj keeps the story’s historical accuracy, but also adds a personal revenge subplot through the addition of a female main protagonist. The result of the changes complicates the film’s introduction, but if you have the patience, Khufiya still has what makes a spy drama compelling– the double-agent turns, the doubts and mistrust, and a satisfying resolution to the operation.
Being based on the espionage novel Escape to Nowhere, Khufiya would inevitably make changes to make it suitable for the silver screen. Usually adaptations remove subplots, however, writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj makes a surprising change – instead of keeping the original male protagonist, Khufiya switches the main investigator’s gender and sexuality, creating Krishna Mehra. Bhardwaj made the change in honor of his friend, the late actor Irrfan Khan, as his original iteration of the film’s protagonist was written for him. This surprising change adds multiple subplots, and adds a more personal revenge angle to the dry and near-factual novel.