Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Paisa Vasooli- 4.5 / 5
The thing about good stuff is, that it ends. The thing about great stuff is, that it ends and then knocks inside your head, breaking the Blood-Brain Barrier; bringing a revolution inside your own little mind, which thinks that it’s sorted in its own way. Then you’re forced to think, then forced to act. THIS is what cinema is and THIS is what cinema should be.
The famous lines from Hamlet–
“To be, or not to be, that is the question-
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?”
Vishal Bhardwaj’s take on ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ in Haider–
“Dil ki agar sunu toh tu hai.
Dimag ki sunu toh tu hai nahi.
Jaan loon ki Jaan doon?
Main rahoon ki main nahi.”
Haider is the Bollywood adaptation of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy ‘Hamlet’, set in the insurgency-hit Kashmir in the year 1995, a time when things were worse than bad in the state.
Haider (like Hamlet) is a story of shamless betrayal, extreme tragedy and selfless revenge. In a gist, Haider comes back to his home in Kashmir only to find that his father has been taken away by the authorities and his mother, Ghazala, now lives with his father’s brother, Khurram. He learns about his mother’s illicit relationship with Khurram and also receives a message from his father, through Roohdar to kill Khurram- the man who has dared to touch Haider’s mother. Does Haider go on to avenge his father’s death and his mother’s betrayal? Does Vishal Bhardwaj throw in a twist? Will Virat Kohli ever come back to form?These are questions that should tickle your brain.
Vishal Bhardwaj has outdone himself and probably every other Bollywood film director. Not saying Haider is perfect but it’s probably closest you can get to perfect story-telling. Class-A direction, subtlety in screenplay, layers of emotion in scenes; I can go on and on. Vishal Bhardwaj’s music only adds to the layer of definition given to a scene.
Bismil-Bismil is a lyrical masterstroke by Gulzar. Bismil, the song, can be compared to the play The Murder of Gonzago (A play staged by Prince Hamlet within the play ‘Hamlet’) also called the The Mouse Trap.
Aao Na is a musical treat with the electric guitar defining the intensity of the character ‘Haider‘ and the complex situation of revenge he is stuck inside. It has been beautifully shot! With old men digging their own grave (to sleep) and singing in a cemetery covered with snow. Wah!
Leaving all his insecurities aside, Shahid Kapoor has finally arrived. Not one person in this nation of 1.25 billion can now say that Shahid cannot act, even if he is shown a DVD of Deewane Huye Pagal or Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi or Shikhar. His Fool N Final days are definitely over.
Shraddha Kapoor looks really pretty playing a Kashmiri girl. Let;s just keep it at that.
Tabu is the female version of someone like Naseerudin Shah, you can’t question her acting abilities (even if she decides to act in Jai Ho). Though, her character is a bit confusing and you don’t really sympathize with her half-widow rant but Tabu makes sure that you don’t take Ghazala negatively.
Kay Kay Menon is the man you love to hate. His portrayal of Khurram in Haider reminds me of his Star Best Seller days where he did a short film for Anurag Kashyap playing a crazy scientist in ‘The Last Train To Mahakali‘. Kay Kay Menon gets a 5/5.
Rajat Bhagat and Sumit Kaul playing Salman & Salman (Both Salman Khan fans) based on Hamlet’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They’re not just ‘funny’ but hilarious in some scenes.
Irrfan Khan is delightfully fresh in some intense scenes keeping the narrative subtle. Needless to say, he does a class act.
All is not hunky-dory with Haider, I must add. The film fails in depicting the story of Kashmir. It brushes past important issues of Kashmiri Pundits, the idea of Half-Widows and the Army’s position amid all this. The narrative of the film is definitely from one side which kind of steals the point-of-view from the other sides. Also, the songs could have been kept to a minimum to shorten the length.
Overall, Haider is probably (in terms of quality) the best Bollywood has ever made.
Haider is THE film to watch. Everything else is chutzpah!
Dalip Singh Grewal
He loves fantasy, the kind where he's in a situation and pretends to be the third person watching the situation from outside. He flies helicopters for a living. He takes long breaths because he's heard 'Life is the number of breaths you take'.