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Did you see the film Raazi when it was out in the cinemas?
It was an exciting tale of espionage, love, sacrifice and two countries at war, but did you know it was based on a book by Harinder Sikka chronicling the very real sacrifices and life of a young woman he’s named Sehmat Khan.
After my Birthday this year, I decided to start a new project called 34 in 34 which challenges me to read at least 34 books in the year to make my 34th year of life.
The first book I chose for this project was called Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka.
I chose it because I really enjoyed the film Raazi with Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kausal, and I had so many questions I was hoping the book would answer.
Did it live up to the hype?
What is it about?
Calling Sehmat is about Sehmat Khan, the only child and daughter of patriotic Indian Hidayat Khan and his wife Tej who come from a wealthy family.
Pretty soon into the book, we find out Hidayat is dying of cancer but has also been spying on Pakistan for Indian Intelligence services and now wants his daughter to make the ultimate sacrifice to spy for her country.
He asks her to do the impossible and serve her country by marrying into a powerful Pakistani Army family and relaying her findings to her handlers in India.
Along the way, Sehmat has to sacrifice her education, risk her life and make choices which haunt her to her dying day.
How does it differ from the film?
All the plot points in the film are here but we get more background on Sehmat as a person and what she left behind as well as background on Hidayat and Tej’s love story.
We also learn more about how Sehmat was able to infiltrate and send information back and ingrain herself into the family over a period of time.
Should you read this book?
Honestly, it almost makes Sehmat into some kind of hero and icon when she was truly not and speaking as a Pakistani, I had to check myself sometimes because we only know one side of the story.
What she did destroyed a family in one fell swoop and I found it hard to sympathise with her after reading about her actions.
I think it is an important read and definitely something that would be good for history buffs or those who enjoyed the movie but go in with an open mind.