Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’ – In the Land of Disappeared People

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Shahid Kapoor in Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider'

Shahid Kapoor in Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’

 

‘Haider’ – Ghosts of the Past and Present

There is a maniac energy about ‘Haider’ – and a maniac desire among viewers to immerse themselves in this film. Yes, a film scribe I know turned up at this advance screening, bleary-eyed and disheveled, suitcase in tow, straight from the airport – rather than miss this first screening of Vishal Bhardwaj’s much awaited film!

I myself had to leave for an important meeting and had miscalculated the length of the movie  but I could not, would not get up  – my legs refused to move and so I sat, mesmerized. The world on the screen was hypnotic, almost more real than the real world I had to attend. Such is the power of ‘Haider’,  Bhardwaj’s adaptation of  Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, the third in the trilogy of ‘Maqbool’ (Macbeth) and  ‘Omkara’ (Othello).

 

Shahid Kapoor & Tabu in 'Haider'

Shahid Kapoor and Tabu in ‘Haider’

‘Haider’  by Vishal Bhardwaj

 

 

 

All I can say is, do not miss ‘Haider’.  In a world of absolutely wafer-thin fare full of pretty faces, bang bang and item numbers, here is something you can truly sink your teeth into. From first scene to last, you will be drawn into quite another dimension.  Forget the chocolate frappe Kashmir of Bollywood movies – no Kashmir Ki Kalis or picturesque shikaras here. It is a brutal, blood-stained Kashmir, etchings of a brooding, bereft landscape, a city of disappeared people. It shows that Shakespeare’s tale of deceit and murder, of treachery and lost ideals is  a universal tale and relevant to all humans. Bhardwaj has successfully transported the ill-starred Danish Prince  to Kashmir, and made it an indigenous, very authentic Indian tale.

 

” Haider” – Gulon Mein Rang (Video Song) | Haider | Music: Vishal Bhardwaj | Shahid Kapoor & Shraddha Kapoor

 

 

‘Haider’ is an experience to be savored for its stark, sad beauty, its stunning music, its visual detailing and its powerful performances. The tight script by Basharat Peer and Bhardwaj keeps you at the edge of your seat, immersed in the grim reality of  that world. The Bard would have given Vishal Bhardwaj a thumbs up.

Bhardwaj has extracted a superb performance from Shahid Kapoor as ‘Hamlet’ –  I could not even imagine this was the dancing, prancing romantic hero from Bollywood bonanzas – I almost forgot his real name and to me he was Haider – troubled, conflicted, a little mad – caught in the crossfire of a lost father and an even more lost mother.

 

 

‘Haider’ – A Grim Madness

All the actors do a remarkable job including Kay Kay Menon as Khurram/Claudius, Narendra Jha as Dr. Hilal Meer/King Hamlet and Irrfan Khan as  Roohdar/Ghost. Shraddha Kapoor is Arshia/Ophelia – a lovely fresh face, the epitome of innocence. But it is the wonderful Tabu as Ghazala/Gertrude  – woman, wife, mother, lover, tormenter – who totally owns the show. She wears this Shakespearean character like a second skin. With her magnetic presence and her quicksilver moods, it’s hard to concentrate on anyone else when she’s on screen.

My mind still seems to be sorting out the intricate minutiae of this stunning film, disembodied scenes flash before the eyes as in a nightmare: blood-drenched snow,  a sea of corpses,  skulls, hopeless faces. The  descent into revenge, into total devastation leaves you somber and stressed for it is indeed all a distorted metaphor for today’s Kashmir, for the political chaos in Paradise – a grim madness that totally disregards our common humanity.  Can one ever travel back to an ancient time of peace and innocence – or have subsequent events totally obliterated it?

The Aftermath of Haider

 

Shahid Kapoor in Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider'

Shahid Kapoor in Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’

 

 

What did YOU think of the movie? Please add your mini-review in the comments section!

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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