Shakespeare. We’re gonna talk about Shakespeare in this article. Well, not exactly Shakespeare coz being the jackass I am, I never paid much attention to any of his plays or sonnets or novellas and I don’t remember anything besides Caesar (only because I played Antony in a high school adaptation of the play). And the moment I got to know that Vishal Bhardwaj, the awesome guy behind Maqbool (adaptation of Macbeth) and Omkara (adaptation of Othello) is going to adapt Hamlet for the big screen, I got as excited as a 12 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert. And even though I found out the movie was gonna star Shahid Kapoor (who’s seriously not one of my favs) as the main lead, I was still excited. And then I found out that it’s gonna star Shraddha Kapoor (believe me I found out who she was in the theatre itself), I was still pretty excited.
Well so it’s pretty obvious that I’m a lazy ass, if you’d somewhat disagree let me tell you that I didn’t read Hamlet and I didn’t realize that Haider (the movie we’re talking about) also stars Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Irffan Khan (did I get that correct?) and Ashish Vidhyarthi (Hahaha! Hello school alumna) till I saw their pretty mugs on the screen. Let alone the fact that most of my friends disagreed to watch the movie, not because it was somewhat based on a social issue (?), or that it was based on one of Shakespeare’s plays (?) or that it starred two people whose initials are S.K. (never trust these people, these guys should be the last names on any of your lists unless it’s a “People I hate the MOST” list), I was still excited and pumped up to see the movie, so much so that I missed two shows at two different theatres by almost half an hour (the excitement was strong with me that day). Yeah and I know, the movie’s already lost most of its “heat” and Bang Bang is breaking records (fellow earthlings, y u do dis?) but dammit I’ll write this article and post it anyway because I spent 2 hours and 42 minutes in that awesome theatre and my feelings need to be heard.
So, moving on…the movie starts off by showing the horrific conditions the state of Kashmir was in, back in 1995 (all jokes apart, this was a good sequence indeed, and somehow reminded me of X-Men: Days of Future Past) and we can see Haider’s father (I am sorry to say I don’t know who he is) and mother (Tabu) being dragged (not literally) out of their houses among hundreds of others that live in Islamabad (seriously?)…this was a bad move and you’ll realize why and what??? …wait, Islamabad? Isn’t that in Pakistan? No, apparently there’s one in Kashmir too (total General Knowledge class yo!). Yeah so people are being dragged outta their houses, and are being interrogated by some slacker in his army jeep. Pretty easy to figure out that anyone who seems suspicious is gonna be killed, or jailed, or yeah well punished. And the good guy (?), Haider’s father (a doctor by profession; hence reinstating the fact that he’s a nice guy) is apparently sheltering enemies of the State in his apparently awesome house. The house meets a bad end along with Tabu and the father (let’s just call him that), and the father is then taken away as Tabu cries (heart wrenching bro, really) in a fantastically and melodramatically fast paced yet super slow sequence.
Next we see Haider who’s returning from Aligarh (where he’s pursuing his higher studies) and he’s interrogated by the border security (at this moment he fucks up bad, for some weirdass sense of righteousness…remember Islamabad?) and is taken away to their camp where SK2 (who plays Harshi? Arshi?…sorry brah, too tired to look at the wiki page) arrives to save him, apparently journalists (SK2 is a journalist) can free suspects by just offering interviews to army people(?). SK2 plays a pretty simple character really but there are so many emotions in (H)Arshi that they almost go unnoticed because of SK2’s (shit) dialogue delivery and amazing (read unjhelable) expressions (and frankly there are just 2, maybe 3 at max), of course you know off the bat that she’s a natural. She too, like Hiader has problems to deal with. Its just that her bubble’s a little bit different than Haider’s, she has an army dad (who’s pretty deep in the plot) and an utter douche for a brother (who fortunately doesn’t occupy more than 10 minutes of screen time). (H)Arshi is the bird that tries to breathe life into Haider, and tries to uplift him and pull him up and rescue him as he’s dangling from the edge of a cliff that goes into an infinite abyss (down which every character in the movie eventually falls). Though they could’ve just cast SK2’s real father, which would’ve be awesome…with a capital A!
So the father is either dead or missing, and Tabu is now being…I don’t know courted, flirted, or something by Haider’s uncle (played by Kay Kay Menon), a lawyer who has the highest number of ‘missing persons’ cases with him. There are moments of drama and emotion that follow when Haider confronts his uncle and mother in their…well it’s a room (sort of, yeah), in front of the army/police headquarters, a garden, their old (now also in pieces) house and we are graced with flashbacks of Haider’s childhood, how Tabu loves him and glimpses of things that are misleading and form perfect characters for each actor. But, see just having a perfect character backdrop isn’t really the thing that’d work in a movie that was well, the most anticipated Bollywood movie of 2014. Not to forget, the awesome image of a stud our Mr. Kapoor doesn’t break out of for the majority of the movie (talk about serious ‘studness’), honestly, drop the act douche you’re hurting the movie and my eyes, not to mention my entire nervous system.
Okay, there are two guys who emulate Salman Khan and surprisingly are named Salman too (the SK is strong with this one) and well yeah they’re somewhat a relief from the highly confused and frantic pace the movie tries to set (but fails miserably). Also Irrfan Khan (?) plays Roohdar, I don’t really know what he’s playing really as he can only be seen in glimpses and he looks creepy mostly. Though I read somewhere that he’s playing the role of the ghost of Hamlet’s father (seems kinda legit). He’s an eccentric fellow really who delivers Haider’s father’s message (Paigam) to him, and so unravels the somewhat chilling and torturous journey that the father and Roohdar had to go through along with other ‘suspects’. And so the truth (supposed) is revealed…
There are some really good sequences in the movie and Shahid Kapoor shines (like, really) in two; the first is when he’s seen performing in front of a large crowd, oh the feeling of mania runs wild in this scene, and the second is a song…yeah, see I’m a guy who doesn’t like to dance (I don’t move man, I’m as stiff as a plank) but holy shit is this song awesome or what? Is it because of the choreography? Or maybe because of the super cool puppets? Or the face paint? I can’t really put my finger on it really, but it is amazing (probably the only Bollywood song I’ve ever liked). Getting back to the movie, there are obviously great performances by Tabu (as expected), Kay Kay Menon (again, expected), the father and Irrffan Khan (after all he’s proto goblin!). But really, a high praise to these actors for getting in the perfect mould that their respective roles required.
I have seriously run out of most praise for the movie and I certainly don’t want to talk about the plot because, well, what’s the fun in that? So I’ll now arrive at the critical analysis of the feature. See, Vishal Bhardwaj is an awesome guy, everyone knows that, but Haider could’ve been made by just any other director. His presence was just so minimal in the movie that it didn’t even feel like giving credits to the director (yeah it was that casual). Though one thing that Haider clearly triumphs at are the set choices, the location choices and the godammn details that are paid attention to in each and every scene. There was definitely an air of uneasiness in the theatre, probably because most kids started crying when Haider brutally (though not BROOOTAL enough) kills the two Salmans, or how he plays with a skull while explaining life’s existential dilemmas to a kid, or when (generally) any one is killed. Trust me, Haider is gonna be tough on your heart, head and bum (and I’ve seen the entire LOTR extended trilogy in a day).
Choosing Kashmir was a pretty good move, most movies are now set in UP (???) and are pretty mundane because no matter what, the city remains a piece of land. That’s not the case with Haider; the real star of the movie isn’t an actor but rather the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir in particular. We all know how each kingdom in any of the LOTR or the Hobbit series has a life of its own and is a character in itself, the same happens with Kashmir in Haider. The place (so godamm romantic and beautiful) almost feels like it’s picked out of a Robert Frost poem, and there are signs of terror, State oppression, tons of feelings and cries gone unheard, rivers of blood and tears still flowing, and let me be really honest when I say the real star of the movie is indeed Kashmir. The movie tries hard to show the dark side of humans, the extent to which our minds would perverse given the opportunity but much like this article it beats around the bush a lot and fails to hit the target. Though it clearly recreates an image of Kashmir most are still unaware of, and Vishal Bhardwaj deserves a special applause for that.
Though the movie only scratches the surface of the AFSPA, I wouldn’t mind its minimal inclusion as the movie is not about AFSPA it’s a about a young, college going guy from Kashmir who returns to his state only to find his house up in flames, his mommy in the hands of his uncle, his beloved father dead, his love (totally dumb), and he learns the (sad) truth about the world. Since it’s a tragedy, the truth is supposed to be tragic and you almost start to feel for each character because everything that’s happening in the movie is happening because no one ever talks about how they feel and nobody ever opens up about anything (seriously, hugs help a LOT).
And guess what? Haider currently holds a rating of 9 on IMDB, that’s the highest any Bollywood movie has ever gotten. And even though it’s mostly viewers and normal people like me who rate movies on IMDB but it’s still chilling and surprising that it has received a higher rating than 3 Idiots or say, Pather Panchali (:|)…yeah, I’m not sure what’s happening. Ohhh and I almost forgot to mention (such a klutz), the movie definitely has the one of the best soundtracks and background score since Talaash, or was it Delhi Belly? Hmmmm…
I’ll finish this article now by saying that the movie is a good movie, given the crap that we’re fed throughout the year; Haider should be seen at least once. It’s a nice attempt to adapt one of the most famous plays by one of the most important figures in literature and even though it’s as boring as watching paint dry, it’s still a decent time killer. I’d say there are good sequences in the movie and there are bad sequences in the movie, the bad ones outweigh the good ones and hence I’d give it a 2.75 on 5.