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Haider – Kashmir’s Hamlet


Vishal Bhardwaj has given us a monumental movie.  Haider keeps the audience glued to their seats from the beginning to the end.  Though the story is adapted from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it takes on a fresh life of its own drawing its vitality from the complex situation that existed in Kashmir in the 1990s when militancy snowballed rending the whole social fabric of the state.  The Pandits were forced to flee in large numbers.  The Indian armed forces became a ubiquitous phantom amidst the dark shadows that hovered over the earthly paradise. In the movie, however, the armed forces appear briefly only.

Shahid Kapoor mesmerises us with his enactment of the young idealistic poet’s dilemma as he is torn between his romantic idealism and the horrible reality that unfolds before his very eyes.  Terrorism and the evils it spawns are sidelined by the betrayal of the young poet’s dreams about love and relationships.  Is his mother guilty of marital infidelity?  Is his paternal uncle a villain?  Does his own beloved girl turn a traitor on him? How much does he understand?  How much lies beyond his understanding?

The movie has not let down the genius of Shakespeare.  There are breathtaking moments of drama and poetry, subtle philosophy and stunning dark humour.  Like a mesmerising piece of undulating symphony, the movie grows in our psyche shaking it out of complacence of all sorts.  It makes us think profoundly.  It makes us feel deeply.  It moves to a climax quite different from what Shakespeare gave to his play.  It leaves us mesmerised.

Some truths can be very simple.  But most truths of human life become complex because of the motives attached to them by human beings.  For the armed forces, truths are as simple as ‘the person on the other side of the border is an enemy’ or ‘every terrorist is a threat to the nation’s integrity.’  Such truths belong to a rigidly systemic way of perceiving reality.  That’s why the role of the Forces in the movie is limited. Even the truths of terrorists belong to that category.  But a poet or a philosopher may have more complex truths when he asks a terrorist, “Are you a Sunni or a Shia?”  Truths become still more complex when genuine love and idealism underlie human quests.  Even the skull dug out of a graveyard can mock us on such occasions.  The graveyard can produce soul-stirring music, surrealistic though the music and the scene may be.  A touch of surrealism is inevitable in a movie like Haider.



Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Long ago I have enjoyed SRK's RNBJ. Your review convienced me to go for Haider.

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  3. True. This movie doesn't disappoint and doea justice to Hamlet.

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    1. It's one of the few Hindi movies I watched without feeling bored at any time except in the last few scenes where violence went overboard.

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  4. Loved the film. True to its essence. Controversial and yet not. I can't believe people are watching bang bang over this.

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    1. While I was watching it, a fellow behind me was attending to a phone call. He said on the phone, "This is my kind of movie, teri nahi. Tu Bang Bang dekh lo..." Controversies are created by such people, I think :)

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  5. Lovely review Tomichan.. I think Haider is being the talk of the town in the blogosphere in recent days. I almost read all of it. Your's seems to be the best and very refined one.

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    1. I had decided not to read any review before watching this movie so that I wouldn't be prejudiced. I know I'm now prejudicing some people at least. But can't help it.

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  6. I loved Omkara and Maqbool ! Going for Haider tomorrow.Thanks for the excellent review.

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    1. Most welcome, Nima. While watching this movie Please forget the popcorn :)

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  7. I watched the play Hamlet recently and was overwhelmed to see the trailer the next day. Hamlet is a masterpiece. Simple truths yet complex attachments for the truth. Totally agree with it. Love how the story unfolds and it covers so much more than just the plot alone.
    I am sure the team has worked hard for this movie and I can see that in trailers also. I don't think the movie would disappoint me. It would exciting to watch Kashmir's Hamlet :)

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    1. You will definitely enjoy the movie. Every actor has performed well, the story line is excellent and the dialogues carry punch.

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  8. The thing about Shakespearean tragedies is that they are so relatable that you will feel a stratagem of fear settling into you as you finish it. Haider just took Shakespeare's greatest contribution to English literature and executed just like that divine Iambic Pentameter verse. I saw the movie and was mesmerized.

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    1. Such was the genius of Shakespeare that it can inspire great movies today too. And brilliant ones at that.

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    2. It is said that the real work of literature transcends the boundaries of Time Place and Dimensions and stands out as an epitome of universatlity

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  9. Yet to watch the movie...your review has boosted my interest.... :-)

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    1. You'll be happier for having watched the movie. All the best.

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  10. Vishal Bhardwaj is a master storyteller.. I can't say about Shakespeare but Vishal creates the stories beautifully!!

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    1. He does justice to Shakespeare. So your admiration is highly justified :)

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  11. Watched the movie and loved it..No doubt it's a master piece :)

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