Movies are generally a medium of entertainment. But there are certain film makers who go beyond the fluff & weave compelling stories. Watching such movies is no different from reading a book. Vishal Bharadwaj is one such film maker. Apart from his regular movies, I love his adaptation of plays of Shakespeare. Be it Omkara (adapted from Othello) or Maqbool (Macbeth). He brings a fresh Indianised perspective to the stories. And he has done a commendable job at retaining the flavour of the original stories. I doubt any of the Hollywood directors could do equal justice to the plays. Therefore, when Haider (adaptation of Hamlet) was announced that too with Shahid Kapoor playing the lead role, I was too excited!!
This Indian Hamlet has been set in Kashmir of 1995. Haider’s dad (a very handsome Narendra Jha) is a doctor, whose first priority is treating patients & he doesn’t discriminate between militants & civilians. Haider’s mom (Gorgeous Tabu) is a school teacher. There is a mention of Haider, he is not to be seen for a while though. Haider’s dad is captured by militants for harboring a militant in the house & their house destroyed. Haider (Ever Charming Shahid Kapoor), who was sent away to a far off place, comes home to search for his father. Arshi (Beautiful Shraddha Kapoor) is his support throughout. The film begins on a slow note. I guess it was necessary to build the background of the characters.
After a futile search, Haider gets a message from Roohdaar (Amazing Irrfan Khan) and then the movie picks up pace. How Haider finds out about his dad’s murder, how he confronts his mom & uncle & how it leads to a horrifying climax is the crux of the story.
Vishal has changed the climax a bit, I won’t reveal it though. The story as expected is mesmerising to say the least. The screenplay is very taut & engaging. The cinematography is fabulous and the advantage was of shooting in Kashmir. One more interesting fact was the use of Kashmiri folk songs & absence of background music. You could say it was very organic. The only commercialised part would be the love making scene of Shahid & Shraddha. The film also has some humorous moments.
The actors have played the part to the hilt. Be it Kay Kay as the evil uncle, with a very cute Kashmiri accent (he is the best in the climax scene) or Tabu, a woman who only wants the best for her son, Irrfan Khan, as a messenger of Haider’s father, Shahid Kapoor, a guy who loves his father so much that it drives him crazy, Shraddha Kapoor, a subdued Ophelia or Lalit Parimoo, a cruel Polonius. It was also nice to see Aamir Bashir (Perfect Laertes) & Ashish Vidyarthi after a long time.
All in all the movie was more than expected & I could watch it more than once!
The movie is not only about Hamlet though. One thing that struck me was plight of Kashmiris. Ever since partition, the people of the valley are living in turmoil, which has been aggravated since the 80s. The dilemma of Hamlet, is the dilemma of Kashmiris. To be Indians, Pakistanis or to have a separate country. This dilemma has given rise to terrorism across borders & people have lost their homes & family. It is high time this is decided once & for all & let the Kashmiris leave peacefully & let Kashmir be the heaven it is supposed to be & not the hell it is now.