Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s acclaimed tragedy Hamlet. Haider (Shahid Kapoor), a young man returns home to Kashmir on receiving news of his father’s (Narendra Jha) disappearance. Haider learns that security forces have detained his father for harboring militants. He also learns that his mother (Tabu) is in a relationship with his very own uncle (Kay Kay Menon). Intense drama follows between mother and son as both struggle to come to terms with news of his father’s death. Soon Haider learns that his uncle is responsible for the gruesome murder. What follows is his journey to avenge his father’s death.
Some of the scenes are excellent like the scene where everyone has to go out with their identity cards or the scene where Shahid returns to his blasted house. The scene where Shahid asks his mother and uncle if they have started singing and dancing secretly just now or used to from before is very good. Irfan’s entry scene is excellent with a brilliant background score. Shahid’s breakdown at his father’s grave, the speech scene and the subsequent scene with Tabu are the best scenes of the movie.
The screenplay is by Vishal Bhardwaj and the Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer. The adaptation of Hamlet to the political backdrop of Kashmir works excellently in the first half of the movie. The movie works on its own even if one has no idea of it being adapted from Hamlet. Its the second half of the movie that doesn’t work on its own. It becomes more an adaptation of Hamlet and it might be hard to appreciate it if one does not know the story of Hamlet.
Vishal has made some political commentary with his dialogues in his movies before but this is his most political and boldest movie ever. He makes cracks at Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) calling it Chutzpah and Shahid reading out the act. He has a scene where a person does not want to enter his own house till he is searched. He has a scene where a character tells that Nehru had promised Plebiscite but that promise was never honored and that both India and Pakistan never demilitarized Kashmir which they were supposed to. A character points out how they do not call the 3 Lakh Kashmiri Pandits who were driven from their homes as disappeared. Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s character rightfully points out in a important scene that a person wielding a stick won ‘Azaadi’ for India and not a person wielding a gun.
Shahid Kapoor is good in the first half and excellent in the second half. He is brilliant in some scenes specially in the scenes with Tabu. He does remind of Pankaj Kapoor in some scenes. Tabu is excellent in every scene and she proves once again what a great actress she is. Kay Kay Menon is good as Haider’s uncle. Shraddha Kapoor is ok. Irfan Khan is very good in a special appearance. Lalit Maroo, Narendra Jha, Kulbhushan Kharbanda are all good.
The background score by Vishal Bhardwaj is excellent. The song Jhelum sung by Vishal Bhardwaj is picturized very well. The song Khul Kabhi while very good felt totally unnecessary in the movie. Aao Na which is the gravedigger’s song from Hamlet is excellently picturized. Everyone who has seen the movie Karz will think that the picturization of the Bismil song is inspired from the Ek Hasina Thi song from Karz. But the picturization of Ek Hasina Thi might itself be inspired from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Hamlet stages a play reenacting his father’s murder to see his uncle’s reaction.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is excellent for the most part. He brilliantly handles the incestuous undertones in the scenes between Haider and his mother. He smartly hints that Irfan’s character is actually Hamlet’s ghost by naming him Rooh aka Roohdar and changes “To be, or not to be” to “To go or not to go”. He also has fun by taking a crack at Salman Khan (which his fans may hate) by naming two characters Salman and making them huge fans of Salman Khan. The movie does feel lengthy and it could have been edited by 15-20 minutes in the second half to make it more engrossing and the climax/ending could have been better. But it still is the best movie of the year so far and highly recommended.Tags: Haider Irfan Khan Kay Kay Menon Member Reviews Reviews Shahid Kapoor Shraddha Kapoor Tabu Vishal Bhardwaj