Friday, 2 January 2015


By: Dibyasha Mohanty
Set in the background of political turmoil of Kashmir back in 1990s The film  isn’t  a conventional Bollywood movie;it is not trying to just entertain  but to create an impact.

Haider comes third in the trilogy of Bhardwaj’s adaptations of Shakespearean plays,the first being Maqbool (adaptation of Macbeth) and second,Omkara(adaptation of Othello).Bhardwaj’s skilful remodelling of Hamlet to give it an Indian setting is perhaps the greatest work of his career as well as that of those associated with the movie.
Haider(parallel of Prince Hamlet),a poet, student, returns from Aligarh university on  learning about the disappearance of his father Dr.Hilaal Meer after being found guilty of harbouring a militant. Soon after finding his house in ruins, he comes to know that his mother Ghazala(Tabu, portraying Gertrude) and uncle Khurram(Kay Kay Menon playing Claudius) have started living together. Arshia(Shraddha Kapoor,portraying  Ophelia) is a soothing soul and supports Haider in his search for his father. Haider comes across Roohdaar who gives him his father’s message “Take revenge for Khurram’s betrayal”. Emotionally shattered after knowing of Ghazala and Khurram’s involvement in his father’s death,he acts strangely.Later , he confronts them and decides to avenge his father’s death.The film ends dramatically  with Ghazala killing herself and Khurram begging Haider to kill him.Haider however leaves him to his fate.

Several characters have been given a contemporary twist.For example the characters of  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been impersonated as the Salmans who try to extract the best of any situation.The popular ghost of King Hamlet appears as Roohdaar who has a flesh and blood existence.
Keeping a tactful edge from controversy,the film maintains a subtle tone throughout,whether it is the sexual tension between mother and son or the vulnerability and mental conflict of Ghazala who is torn between two relationships-of helpless love with her son and of lust and tension with her brother-in-law.
The pun on 'chutzpah'  equating it with AFSPA(ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERS ACT) and the repeated use of one of the  famous lines of the bard,"to be or not to be"  adds to the element of  dark humour.
The movie  literally  gives you a punch in the gut while highlighting the complex aspects of human relationships, of doubt, insecurity and ambiguity.The scenic  atmosphere of Kashmir and  the traditional Kashmiri background score add beauty to the high-end drama.

It is intense,it is disturbing,and it is the best of what Bollywood had for us in 2014.

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