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Haider: VB’s & Shahid’s Chutzpah- Movie Review



It’s after a long time I am reviewing a movie. Actually this time I pushed myself to write about the movie which made me think about it a lot.

Last time Vishal Bhardwaj came with Shahid Kapoor they gave us Dhan Te Nann in Kaminey and this time around both are back with some “Chutzpah” in Haider. Haider- Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet set around  Kashmir’s conflicts and Armed Special Forces Power Act(AFSPA). Quite heavy and sensitive topics to deals with eh! And the director deals with it in a very brash, uncompromising and a brilliant way.  The way one of the most tragic plays has been captured, itself is commendable.

As Faiz Ahmed Faiz says

Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale
Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahaar chale

Set in the backdrops of Kashmir- the land of dispute, has been shown like never before. The hero (Shahid Kapoor) who returns home from studying revolutionary poetry to learn that his father (Narendra Jha) has disappeared for treating a terrorist. His mother Ghazala (Tabu, Gertrude from original play) is romantically close to his father’s younger brother (Kay Kay Menon). Arshi (Shraddha Kapoor),Haider’s sweetheart plays Ophelia from Hamlet, is torn between her pro-Indian establishment family and Haider . Haider is already torn between finding his father and figuring out the relationship between his mother and uncle, Roohdar (Irrfan Khan, playing Ghost of Hamlet’s father from original play), a mysterious man sends Haider on a path of hatred, turmoil doubt and vengeance. While all this is happening, the relationship between Ghazala and Haider keeps the drama alive.

Many of the ideas from Hamlet are elegantly redefined in the film.  Ophelia’s little red scarf is brilliantly woven into the circumstances. The Concept of “To be, or not to be” is brilliantly depicted by the satirical poetic speech on AFSPA act delivered by Haider is one of the moments of the film. For the first time, India’s lack of capabilities to handle law and order situations has been brought into light.  The law which says- ” After giving a due warning, Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order”. So firing upon stone throwing protestors or taking anyone in custody for interrogation as per wish or suspect is very smartly questioned here.

Everyone impresses in the movie. From Kaminey to Haider, Shahid Kapoor has come a long way. He lives every emotion and performs his role with aplomb. Tabu gives another superb performance. The way she depicts Ghazala’s distress, magnetism and splendor at the same time, its a treat to watch. Tabu depicts every emotion with poise and class.Kay Kay Menon (Claudius in original play) appears in a different shade and steals the show every now and then with his acting skills. Irrfan Khan, though appearing in parts only, plays the role with composure and looks menacing everytime he appears on the screen.  Also the way two faced Janus has been included in the movie with the two Salman’s(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the original play) is also quite smart. At once they provide the comic relief to the heavy tone of the movie and at the same time they get cruel when they capture Haider and are ordered to kill.

With layer upon layer waiting for the audience to be interpreted (for example the touch of Oedipal complex between a mother and son, the growing of guilt of a well meaning lover, the song of the gravediggers, the examples of ‘Chutzpah’ and its comparison with AFSPA etc). Haider is effective on multiple levels and truly faultless in its execution. The Kashmir canvas is potent. Bhardwaj’s visual intelligence in capturing the desolate Heaven on Earth and the screenplay by Bhardwaj and Basharat Peer is just stunning. Vishal Bhardwaj right from direction to screenplay to the dialogues strikes the right chord. Cinematography is astounding while Songs like Bismil and Aao na set the tone quite well.

The film is haunting and engrossing. Though last half an hour looks a bit dragged but then it can be overlooked if you are that engrossed. Haider is brutal take on Kashmir dilemma and superb adaptation of Hamlet. Though not everyone’s cup of tea, Haider is engrossed with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry, Gulzar’s lyrics, VB’s eye for brilliance and Shahid’s stunning performance.

Rating- NA ( I am no one to rate this Chutzpah)


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