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Pichla | Agla

Haider – A Film Review

Another masterpiece by Vishal Bharadwaj based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet; thus completing his trilogy of movies based on Shakespeare’s best plays (2003 hit Maqbool based on Macbeth, 2006 hit Omkara based on Othello). A very powerful movie, although at times a little slow, he did portray every character strongly. Haider shows a spinoff of feud between Norway and Denmark in the form of India– Pakistan fight for Kashmir. Along the political fight, the personal vengeance of Haider progresses well in the movie.

Shahid Kapoor as Haider (parallel with Hamlet) shined well while Tabu as Ghazala (parallel with Gertrude) played perfectly the role of a devoted mother and an incestuous wife. Kay Kay Menon fitted easily into Uncle Khurram’s (parallel with Claudius) role with Shraddha Kapoor into Arshee (parallel with Ophelia). The chemistry and timing between the characters was perhaps the key for the viewer to be able to sit thru such a slow play.


Haider at first seeks out for his missing father after being taken away by army thinking him to be a militant. But later works himself into going mad at trying to sort out the truth behind is father’s disappearance, his mother’s illicit relationship with his uncle and avenging his father’s death. In the process he inadvertently causes the death of Arshee’s father and brother and also indirectly contributes to Arshee’s suicide. All along his uncle using all kinds of methods to feed his political aspirations as well as gain his SIL’s hand.

The movie also shows real scenes of freedom fight that Kashmir underwent in the 90s, how the Indian Army played a dual role in eradicating the terrorists as well as creating an anti–terrorist group of the same criminals, how the Hindu Pandits were completely eliminated from Kashmir, how everyday checks were done for militants hiding in the plain sight and finally how some who were captured thinking to be militants weren’t really but were tortured. It’s very brave of the director to project these and I am sure Censor Board would have cut quite a few scenes that may have provided more proof at the unjust that happened there.

The fact that the movie was filmed entirely in Kashmir pleased me when the director could have made the same movie in a less tenser location (although it is much less tenser now in Kashmir compared to 20 years ago).

There are some powerful dialogues that each of them in itself could be topics for debate or blog posts. A few as sample:


Tabu: Disappeared logo ki biwiyaan aadhi bewa kehlati hai, half widows (Women whose husbands are abducted are called half widows.)

Shahid Kapoor: Dil ki agar sunu toh hai... Dimag ki sunu toh hai nahi. Jaan loon ki Jaan doon? Main rahoon ki main nahi (A situation that shows how complex Haider's character becomes dangling between going completely insane at one end and struggling to avenge his father on the other end)

Shahid Kapoor: Aap kabhi kisi aur ke nazar se bhi dekhiye (Sometimes you have to see from other's point of view) – I dont remember the exact dialogue but it is similar to this.


However, in comparison to Hamlet (which obviously I couldn’t stop doing it), I didn’t like the fact that Horatio was replaced with two characters who ape Salman Khan. That kind of was lame, but may be Vishal Bharadwaj wanted to add some comic relief, yet Horatio is one constant in Hamlet’s life and lives till the end. Another character flaw I saw was in Haider who at times comes off as more buffoon than genuine mad. There was a slight disconnect between the Skull scene where Haider contemplates on the mysteries of being mortal and Arshee’s funeral scene. Perhaps editing snipped something accidentally. The movie could have been a little faster at times, but that’s the least of the flaws.

All in all it was a well taken movie and thoroughly capturing. I recommend to watch this on big screen than on a DVD or those free sites. (:P).

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