Haider: This movie has definitely captured the viewers imagination this season and with Bang Bang being released the same weekend, an apt yardstick has been thrown in. While Bang Bang truly epitomizes the soul of what is Bollywood, Haider goes on to show what Bollywood could aspire to be. Aspire to move from being lame, repetitive, copied-borrowed-stolen to being brilliant, gripping and passionate.
Should we dissect a movie like Haider into good, bad and conjured ratings? We shouldn’t. We shouldn’t because the movie wasn’t made in that spirit. It’s a labour of love, and when someone like Gulzar, Vishal, Kay Kay, Tabu, Irfan have laboured and toiled, the outcome is splendid and gripping. Every actor justifies their screen time. Kay Kay and Tabu blaze throughout and there are scenes where Shahid looks pale in comparison. Pale, when this is easily his greatest portrayal. That’s the impact his fellow actors have on screen.
There are questions of whether Haider portraits Kashmir accurately. Why should it? The snow capped mountains, bubbling rivers and the intense army presence is pinpoint accurate. Photography takes care of that. If that doesn’t suffice, the background score kicks in and Kashmir has never been so poetically portrayed. That brings us to the issue. Is the production obligated to showcase a majority’s or likewise a minority’s point of view just because the movie is set in Kashmir. No, they are not obligated. What the movie does showcase is enough dialogue between the two. Both making their individual points. It should be left at that. If Haider, the movie’s treatment of Kashmir is to be dissected and called accurate or inaccurate then going with the same blinded tunnel-vision, Haider’s treatment of Salman Khan via the Salmans could be accurate slash inaccurate.
Is it an easy task to adapt Hamlet? Vishal ventures out to stick his head out and adapt an play that has been staged, adapted, filmed and studied for the past two hundred years. Adding his own contribution for the world to see. He ventures out by adding his own subtle plots, subtly portrays an idea sticking within Indian social restraints. When Tabu kisses Haider on the forehead after an intense exchange of words, the movie hall is rapt in silence and attention, including the toddler, then she kisses him on his cheeks and ever so lightly, in the passing brushes Haider on the lips. The hall is suddenly noisy. Loud laughter from one corner, sniffled giggling and cat calls. It just shows the audience is not mature enough to deal with an artist’s or director’s speech. For an audience that has been dished out atrocious screenplays and themes for decades, been sold to brain drain repeatedly, the scene of a lip brush makes for squeamish hand wringing.
I’ll not rate the movie here out of some cornered yellow stars, but Haider is a must watch for the pure passionate story telling, poetry and screenplay. It’s a movie that hopefully spawns better movies in the future.
Further reading: Vishal Talks about Haider, Shakespeare, Oedipus Complex and More