Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan, Tabu
Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj
Some of you may find this confession strange and weird because of my belonging to the ilk of professionals whose job comprise of doing fault finding in the movie. But there is no denying the fact that movie making is certainly a herculean task. Even tougher than that is portraying something on the celluloid which is already iconic in its own right, and job turns even more tedious when you you have a Shakespearean saga in your hand to paint on the silver screen.
But there is one cine maker who has by now graduated in the art of fiddling with Shakespearean masterpieces, and it's none other than versatile cinematician Vishal Bhardwaj, who after mesmerizing the viewers with 'Maqbool' (inspired from Macbeth) and 'Omkara' (which again was an Indian cine tale inspired from Othello) has completed his Shakespearean trilogy with the Indianised edition of 'Hamlet' in form of 'Haider'.
Well there is no denying the fact that be it any epoch it's it's always a pleasure to revisit the Shakespeare's world (irrespective of the medium of rendezvous), and the charisma iconic writer's creations gets even more charming when it comes with a stamping of Vishal Bhardwaj all over its packaging.
So just like his previous cine gifts this time Vishal has once again succeeded in bringing out the Shakespeare inherited within him. And that too while keeping the entire his Shakespearean-isque cine enterprise uncluttered.
Set in Kashmir circa 1995 the 'Haider' narrates the story of Haider (Shahid Kapoor) who returns to Kashmir from Aligarh, on knowing about the disappearance of his father, Hilaal Meer's. While pining for his father, Haider chances upon the romance brewing between his mother Ghazala (Tabu) and his uncle, Khurram (Kay Kay Menon).
When 'Haider' sets out in search of his father, his childhood sweetheart, Ashi (Shraddha Kapoor) helps him. Through her, he meets Roohdar (Irrfan Khan) a Pakistani militant, who makes him believe that his father has been manipulatively murdered. With frames rolling ahead Khurram ends up marries Ghazala, but this act of his mother and uncle didn't go down well with 'Haider' believes that his father is alive somewhere. So what follows next to know watch this astounding cine cantata of Vishal Bhardwaj.
As far as premise of 'Haider' is concerned then right at onset I would like make a mention of the fact that there wouldn't have been any other better milieu than terrorism ridden J&K of 90s for the execution of 'Haider'.
By reinterpreting and adroitely skewing classic drama 'Hamlet' to make it something palatable for Indian audience Vishal has once again proved that he really understands the Shakespeare like no one else does in Bollywood. Be it a somewhat estranged mother-son relationship, or a son's agony and bereavement after his father goes missing or an incestuous relationship of a wife with her paramour who is incidentally her husbands brother. In premise of 'Haider' everything is crafted with such a conviction that you at once get indulged in the onscreen proceedings.
Besides what deserves a special mention is Vishal's winnowing adeptness by deploying which he has adroitly managed to keep some of the crucial components of Shakespeare's masterpiece like "Oedipal Complex" latent and that too without making viewers feel the absence of the same.
In fact it won't be wrong to say that 'Haider' is one such cinematic creation belonging to the ilk of "rarest of the rare" kind of cine phenomena where even obmutescence speaks a thousand words. Though there are two relevant styluses which play a relevant in role in the crafting of this masterpiece and they are "'Hamlet'" and :"Terrorism aggrieved Kashmir". But truly 'Haider' is about none of them in totality and it neither tries to send across any message, but yes at the same time it's an cinematic jaunt full of emotional commotion which takes you to an altogether different world. And after seeing this doyen reinterpretation of 'Hamlet' by Vishal Bhardwaj and Basharat Peer I don't have any trepidation in saying that 'Haider' is even more eloquent than 'Hamlet' and probably Bhardwaj is the only person in Bollywood who knows Shakespearean-ism inside out.
Some may feel that it's always easy to trail a path when you have an inspiration to follow (as it is in case of 'Haider' where Vishal had 'Hamlet' as his inspiration), but on the hind-side, truth is that with an inspiration to follow there also comes a preset benchmark which you are bound to match, if you really want to prove the worth of your existence. And when your inspiration is something as mammoth as Shakespearean-istic literary chronicle then you don't have any other option than to put in your best efforts in the forefront. So is the case with the screenplay of 'Haider' where an intense yet light-hearted first half paves the way for an enthralling second half which wraps the movie with utmost brilliance. Decorated with some astoundingly emotional moments, 'Haider' has numerous dramatic interludes that are edgy and gripping. Besides best thing about screenplay of 'Haider' is that despite having a fictional core blended with some realistic kind of cine condiments there are no confused hiccups in the flow of narration. Another cinematic element which emerges as a jewel in the crown is the stupendous cinematography of Pankaj Kumar which makes even the tranquility of J&K speak its agony.
Although majority of sound tracks of 'Haider' have an average recall value, but in-spite of that each one of them has a soulful appeal glued to it. Be it 'Jhelum', Aao Na, or Mehndi Hassan's classic Ghazal Gulo Mein Rang in the voice of of Arjit Singh, every aural delight of the movie manages to find its way to your heart. But the song which in a way takes you in the world of stupefaction is Sukhwinder Singh's 'Bismil' which is not just a song but also is an important disembodied character of the movie.
Well if we talk about the performances then without an iota of doubt one can understand that each of Bharadwaj's characters is evidently handpicked with much care. Be it the main cast or the supporting brigade, every performer irrespective of his or her screen presence duration manages to leave a mark.
Probably 'Haider' may not emerge as one of the game changer cine flicks of Shahid's career, but doubtlessly it is one of the best performances of Shahid's career so far. And after a spell of average onscreen appearances this time this Kapoor scion conveniently manages to brings out all the inner conflicts with such a brilliance in 'Haider' that somewhere down the conscious you start seeing him standing along with his ilk of contemporaries.
Kay Kay Menon as 'Haider''s treacherous uncle is so wickedly subtle evil yet humane that despite his portraying a somewhat grey character you at once gets smitten by his acting dexterity. In a somewhat extended cameo Irrfan is brilliant as ever.
As the narration of 'Haider' is primarily circumscribed around a mother-son relationship that's why Shahid's ladylove Arshi (Shraddha) doesn't get much scope to portray her potential, but whatever part she plays during the run time (especially during anti-climax) she manages to leaves a long lasting impact on the viewers.
But the performer who emerges as an out and out show-stealer is none other then Tabu, who literally outmaneuvers everyone accompanying her on the big screen. From ecstasy to melancholy or from that latent guilt to incestuous instinct, everything flows out of Tabu's eyes with such a conviction that you start believing that no one else could have succeeded in portraying the character of this "Bollywoodian Gertrude" with such a conviction with which Tabu has portrayed it.
Rest of the supporting cast comprising of Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Aashish Vidyarthi, Aamir Bashir do not have a much relevant role to play, but in-spite of that they act as a great stanchion which keeps the narration rolling forward.
To sum up, blended with a diverse spectrum of emotions 'Haider' is one such cinematic carol which will knock you out with the "eloquence of its silence". And probably there wouldn't have been a better re-interpretation and cine-depiction of 'Hamlet' than this. So with tons of hopes from 'Haider' I am going ahead with 3.5 out of 5 for this Shakespearean masterpiece of Bhardwaj.