A great cinematic experience
The Hamletian dilemma finds a Gandhian answer. Interestingly ‘Haider’ is not just about Hamlet but also the political strife of the firdous baroye zameen ast.
Name : Haider
Cast : Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon and Shraddha Kapoor
Direction : Vishal Bharadwaj
Genre : Drama
Rating : ****
Like : Cast, crew and the treatment
UnLike : The finale gets filmy
The Hamletian dilemma finds a Gandhian answer. Interestingly ‘Haider’ is not just about Hamlet but also the political strife of the firdous baroye zameen ast. The heady cocktail of the two is a must see and surely the connoisseurs of good cinema have a 160 minutes treat from Vishal Bharadwaj who obviously signs off the Shakespearean trilogy in style and with flourish.
The eponymous hero is in full cry and the mix of the politics of a state, ruined by excessive and unaccountable policing, with the tale of hate, revenge and intrigue styled by the Bard makes for wonderful viewing. If there be a view that is to be critical than it must be that in the final few reels the craftsman bids adieu to the Bard at the cost of Bollywood and drags you through the mandatory scenes of shoot, blood and violence to cater to the expectations of the audience at Bollywood.
Haider ( Shahid Kapoor) returns from Aligarh to Kashmir when his doctor dad Dr Hilal Meer (Narendra Jha- in a wonderful cameo) goes missing, leaving behind his son, his half widow Ghazala (Tabu) and his brother Khurram (Kay Kay Menon). Haider comes home, defying the security obstacles that have a vice like hold on the valley, only to witness the blooming romance between his mom and his uncle. His love life is disturbed when Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor) has her brother and father opposing the relationship. The tale has the politics of Kashmir (in the 1990s), running parallel with the near incestuous love tale of the half widow with her brother-in-law and the frustrations of the son who cannot come to terms with the role of mom in the disappearance of her father. He comes to know that she has a proactive role in the arrest of his father.
Haider meets up with Roohdaar (Irrfan Khan), a colleague of Dr Hilal at jail. Roohdaar carries the message of revenge and stays back to see it being executed. Death rules the valley and the Valley of peace and prosperity is now that of distrust, vendetta and intrigue. Our cinema is so full of tales of revenge, so no big novelty. This Hameltian take is not so much about just revenge as it is about intrigue.
But above all the film is a salute to the craftsmanship of Vishal Bharadwaj and his return to Shakespearean drama after mishaps like ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ and ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’. He returns to haunt like Gulzar did with ‘Maachis’. He even resorts to saluting Subhash Ghai when he decides to spill the tale of avenge with a Ek Haseena thi like number in Bismil (Sukhwinder Singh) and in a holds-no-bar narration, brings to light a bitter Kashmir: din mein pere, raat mein sehre; it is not freedom from India but slavery to the neighbour; sab teek ho jayega- lagta to nahi; are parts of some wonderful writing by Basheet Peer alongside the filmmaker. The film is amazingly shot (Pankaj Kumar) and the music (the magic of Vishal-Gulzar combo) is haunting and the tale engrossing. It is as much Hamlet as it is Peer’s Curfewed Night.
Above all ‘Haider’ is about performances and an eerie feel of a state gone wrong. Kay Kay and Irrfan are great actors and do just what is expected of them and make no effort to swallow the script or steal space. Then there is a surprise performance from Narendra Jha and a fine deglamourised Shraddha Kapoor. In the central character as Haider, Shahid does not take a single wrong stem till the script asks him to play less of Haider and more of the Hindi filmi hero. Even this translation he does with grace and aplomb. In the final analysis the film surely and truly belongs to Tabu. She is haunting in a manner that is one without compare. She haunts, and gives the film that eerie touch that a Dimple gave ‘Lekin’ and this takes the film to a higher level. This is a Kashmir unseen: far away from ‘Junglee’, ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ and also ‘Roja’, ‘Mission Kashmir’ and ‘Lakshya’. Miss the film at your own peril. Salaam ‘Haider’. A great cinematic experience.