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Mumbai India
Haider: Disturbed Heaven on Earth!
Oct 04, 2014 03:29 PM 6326 Views





Over the years, William Shakespeare’s work has fascinated lot of film-makers throughout the world.  The Hindi Film industry has also time & again tried its hands in indigenizing the literature stalwart’s tragic plays & novels, with very few directors succeeding in a sensible & path-breaking adaption.

Among them, its Vishal Bhardwaj who rules the roost so far, having made Macbeth(Maqbool) & Othello(Omkara) earlier. With Haider, his latest offering, he completes the trilogy, drawing inspiration from one of the most popular tragedies, Hamlet, amidst the backdrop of Kashmir in 90s.


The story begins with Dr Hilaal Meer(Narendra Jha) being arrested for interrogations under suspicion.

His son Haider(Shahid Kapur), is doing his research on poetry at Aligarh University.  On his return he learns that his father is missing and the house(where he grew up) completely dilapidated & burnt down.

Haider disturbed, rushes to his paternal grandfather’s place to get more details.  He is further shocked to see his mother & uncle in a jovial mood, unperturbed by the happenings.

Unable to get satisfactory answers from his family, Haider decides to take control & starts looking out for his father with the help of his girlfriend Arshia(Shraddha Kapoor).  One fine day, a spooky guy Roohdaar(Irfan Khan) who calls himself Dr Meer’s ‘Rooh’ or spirit, gets in touch with Arshia & Haider, claiming to know inside information about Haider’s dad.

Haider’s pursuit to unravel the mystery behind his dad’s disappearance, figure out the family secrets(if any) and resurrect his complicated love-life is how the plot unfolds here on.

Writers Vishal Bhardwaj & Basharat Peer(of Kashmiri origin), maintain a neutral stand on the Kashmir issue.  It would be rather unfair to comment on the exact authenticity or reality of depiction. Cinematic liberty has been taken at quite a few places, but they manage to cover it up by subtly following the Shakespearean philosophy, where every character has ‘grey’ shades within him / her.

However, one needs to focus on the intent behind the film i.e. ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’, which also gels with the date of its release 2nd Oct, i.e. Gandhi Jayanti.

Technical aspects

Cinematography by Pankaj Kumar is completely in sync with the erratic scenarios in Kashmir viz. sometimes gloomy, or disturbing, suddenly snowing, or even romantic. Hat off to Pankaj for this visual delight!

The music by Vishal Bhardwaj himself has a strong Kashmiri folk flavour to it, which makes it very authentic.

Words penned by the legendary Gulzar  sahab as usual are pure lyrical ‘uncut’ gems.

Dialogues filled with satirical humour wrapped in urdu poetry carry the essence of the original play. Shakespeare’s famous ‘to be or not be’ has been not just been translated be also aptly used in the right context as ‘Main Rahun Ki Main Nahi’

Background score is good, but a trifle louder than Vishal’s previous work.  Editing, in my opinion, could perhaps have been a bit tighter.


Movies based on such sensitive themes largely depend on the on-screen performances, and undoubtedly, every actor in this film is a revelation!

Kay Kay Menon as usual delivers yet another brilliant performance, gets into the skin of the character with utmost ease

Narendra Jha is an actor one needs to watch out for. He is like a ‘sutradhar’,  mouthing some of the best lines in the film in his deep, mesmerizing baritone.

Irrfan Khan in a cameo role is spooky & interesting. One wishes he had been given more screen space.

Shraddha Kapoor plays her part well. Playing a young Kashmiri journo, torn among different relationships, yet trying to be happy, she does complete justice. However, there were couple instances where a slight spillover of her Aashiqui 2 character was felt!

Lalit Parimoo & Aamir Bashir provide adequate support.  Sumit Kaul & Rajat Bhagat are amazingly funny. Their character’s fascination with Salman Khan is one of the highlights of the film!

Tabu, makes a terrific come-back. Her intense scenes with Shahid are first-of its kind in Indian cinema. Although, there does exist a thin streak of Oedipus complex between the two characters, Vishal Bhardwaj ensures it is restrained & non-vulgar keeping in mind the Indian context.

Shahid Kapur is just outstanding. The complex character of Hamlet, with varied emotions is perfectly portrayed by him. In his career best performance till date, the youngster proves why acting runs in his lineage.  His veteran father Pankaj Kapur’s acts in Shakespearean plays during his National School Drama days have always been a revelation to budding actors.

Overall Haider is a hard hitting, disturbing film, filled with power packed performances by all the actors.

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