In 2018, Meghna Gulzar’s spy thriller ‘Raazi’ attracted the attention of its viewers due to its characters who are based on a real-life story. The film is inspired from a former Indian Navy officer Harinder S. Sikka’s novel ‘Calling Sehmat,’ that revolves around the character of ‘Sehmat Khan’ who gets married to a Pakistani army officer to fulfill her Indian patriotic father’s desire of spying the Pakistani army. Let’s have a look at the real-life story of Sehmat Khan.
The Life of Sehmat Khan
The story gives a glimpse of the warlike circumstances between India and Pakistan in 1971. It is about the patriotic character of an Indian girl Sehmat Khan who borns to a Kashmiri Muslim father and a Hindu mother in India. Suffering from cancer, her Indian freedom fighter father convinces her to get married to his Pakistani army general friend’s son who is also an army officer in Pakistan. So that she works as a spy, and provides the secret information of Pakistan’s army to India.
Before marriage, she gets spy training through the Indian intelligence organization ‘RAW.’ After marriage, Sehmat wins the confidence of her family as well as relatives, and gradually, starts sending secret information to the Intelligence Bureau of India. During this time, she also works as a teacher to teach General Yahya Khan’s grandchildren there.
During Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, she provides one of the most important pieces of information to India, according to which Pakistani army plans to sink ‘INS Vikrant (R11), ‘a Majestic-class aircraft carrier of Indian Navy, that is a part of the naval strategy for the military confrontation between India and Pakistan. But with the support of Sehmat, Indian intelligence gives an early warning of this plan of Pakistan to the Indian Navy. Ultimately, the Indian Navy soldiers get successful to save INS Vikrant.
Later, Sehmat’s spy role and real purpose are discovered by the Pakistani agents. But she manages to escape from the Pakistani army and returns to India. At this time, she is pregnant with her Pakistani officer husband’s child. This child takes birth in India, and after growing up, joins Indian army.
How The Real Life Story Of Patriotic Sehmat Came Out
According to the writer Harinder S. Sikka, it took him about 8 years to fictionalize the story that he acquired from an Indian army officer during Sikka’s visit to Kargil, and there, the officer told him about his Kashmiri Muslim mother who got married to a Pakistani officer.
Sikka, further went to meet that person’s mother in Malerkotla (Punjab) to know more about her real story. After meeting her, he came to know the complete picture of her life and decided to write it. He didn’t reveal her identity for the purpose of her security and replaced her name with ‘Sehmat Khan.’
In April 2008, Harinder’s debut novel ‘Calling Sehmat’ was published by Konark Publishers, and after ten years in May 2018, it was re-published by Penguin Random House, India. According to Sikka, despite being an ex-soldier himself, he feels proud to admit that he learned the real meaning of patriotism from her story.
The Novel Converted Into A Movie Spy Thriller- Raazi
In 2018, the novel converted into a Hindi language spy thriller movie ‘Raazi,’ starring Alia Bhatt as Sehmat and Vicky Kaushal as her husband. The director of the movie is Meghna Gulzar and producers are Vineet Jain, Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar and Apoorva Mehta.