Vishal Bhradwaj's Haider is the journey of a youth in an unabated search for his father who according to the Kashmiris has "Disappeared”. Disappearance in Kashmir means being caught by the Indian Army under charges of helping militants and taken to camps where they are torturously beaten and most of the times killed.
The movie is set in 1995 in Kashmir and is an adaptation of the Shakespearean Hamlet. The era in which the movie is set is that time when Kashmir was engulfed in terrorism and politics. Vishal Bharadwaj has done a fantastic job in using this as the milieu for his Haider.
The movie begins with Haider’s father who is a doctor by profession, operating on a militant. Tabu his wife is shown as a scared and vulnerable woman who is also a melodramatic mother. The next morning the Indian army officials are shown outside Haider’s home and in the course of interrogation, they arrest Haider’s father and bombing his house to kill the hidden militants. Haider returns from Aligarh where he was forcefully sent by his mother to keep him away from being influenced by the militants. He becomes a poet, a passion that he shared with his father. Shraddha Kapoor, Haider’s love interest, suits very well for her role and is not used only for the song, dance and skin show sequences in the movie. For a change, the heroine’s role is pivotal and takes a strong turn in the movie. Haider who stands strong while watching his house that is burned down to ashes becomes devastated when he witnesses his mother getting cozy with her brother-in law (Haider’s uncle). Hell breaks loose when Haider realizes that his Uncle and his mother were behind the conspiracy of the disappearance of his father.
Irrfan Khan’s comic role brings life to the dark movie exactly when it is very much needed. The sequence and the timing of shots and event has been very well placed leaving the viewer not bored even for a single minute. Every shot makes you want to know what happens next. The camera angles in the entire movie are generally close shots which make the movie to appear intense and deeply stirring.
The costumes used in the movie and the editing are just perfect. The movie takes you from your respective cities to the state of Kashmir. You can very well breathe in Kashmir while watching the movie. It takes you back in time to the era where Kashmiris were slaughtered. You feel sorry for them even though you wouldn’t have been to that place nor had friends hailing from there. It connects to you at a personal level and leaves you hurt and in pain by the end of the movie.
The choice of characters has been excellent. Shahid Kapoor has proved his mettle with this movie. He proves that he much more than the roles he has played in other movies like R.. Rajkumar and Phata Poster Nikala Hero. They say that Hamlet is one of the most difficult characters in History. The sequence where Shahid acts as a lunatic is a must watch.
Shraddha Kapoor who seems to be a promising actor with every movie is a lawful daughter and a crazy lover. Tabu as always steals the show with her intense acting skills. She is shown as a two faced woman who is caught between the love of her son and her search for peace and romance. Kay Kay Menon perfectly adds to the ensemble by acting as the occultist uncle whose revenge is what Haider thirsts for. Even the smallest of the smallest roles if played with perfection. The gravedigging scene displays dark humour and the scene where a woman searching for her son shows his photograph and Haider shows his Father’s in return tickles a drop of tear from you eye.
I personally loved the screenplay of the song Bismil and the entire act that is depicted. Being a lover of musical plays I was drawn to it.
We have always perceived Kashmir as a white snow clad place with an effervescent scenic beauty. Vishal shows Kashmir as red-snow clad state. The movie sticks to the original work of Shakespeare by including the context and adapting it to the plight of the Kashmiris.
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The only flaw was the length of the movie which can still be overlooked.
Lastly, Vishal Bharadwaj’s Haider is the story of how terrorism is a vicious circle. It is the story of strong emotions and relationships in a lust driven society where the ultimate thing that human wants is peace and his journey in finding it. He completes his trilogy of Shakespearean plays with Haider which I found was the best among the earlier ones.
If you are someone who wishes to watch a movie for entertainment alone then this is not your cup of tea. But you can surely give it a try and start falling in love with such kind of movies. If the title of the storyline does not convince you then at least use the characterization as an excuse to watch this movie. However, do not miss out on it at any cost. It is that once is a lifetime movie where everything just falls in so perfectly and touches your heart.
It does deserve your time and in return it will give you a feeling of having watched such an amazing and brilliantly made movie.
P.S: The people in the theatre where I watched the movie in, got up and applauded after the movie was over.