Chutzpah – Originally derived from the Yiddish word, it’s used to describe someone who has the audacity to cross the limits of acceptable social norms. Mr.Vishal Bhardwaj has that Chutzpah to go beyond the usual. His attempt to re-create Shakespeare’s timeless classics have always resulted in brilliant creations. Never shy from experimenting, Mr Bhardwaj uses his craftsmanship wittily and presents the tragedy of Prince Hamlet set in a picturesque yet bloodied and burnt paradise on earth.
At the heights of militancy and counterinsurgency, a doctor disappears mysteriously, for his willingness to help the injured militants. His son returns to see his mother and his uncle in a seemingly romantic relationship which he finds hard to digest, partly because of his Oedipus complex. Unwelcome everywhere, the only person in whom he gets solace is his childhood lover. In his search of missing father, he meets the last person to see his father alive. A person, who’s almost a ghost, delivers his father’s final wish – Revenge.
Performance wise, Tabu and Irrfan Khan deliver tremendously. Time and again, Tabu reminds us what a powerful actor she is. Her portrayal of a half-widow, waiting aimlessly for her missing husband, dead or alive, yet longing for a man in her incomplete life is simply stupendous. Irrfan Khan is sublime in the role of Rooh-dar or the ghost, from the original. Shot over a really small number of frames, Irrfan’s Rooh-dar act catches the fancy of the viewer. Watch him in the scene where he mumbles the doctor about his self…
Aap Faani, Main Lafaani.. Main hi Shia, Main hi Sunni..
Kay Kay Menon is fantastic in the role of Khurram, the main antagonist. He gives evil a new definition. The very pretty Shradhha Kapoor, as well as the rest of the assorted cast, are efficient in their respective roles. Worth mentioning are the late Narendra Jha, who played the role of doctor/Haider’s father and Sumit Kaul and Rajat Bhagat for being the Salmans !! A tip of the hat to this ode.
Which brings me to the most important cog of this wheel. Prince Hamlet himself. Perhaps considered to be one of the unluckiest actors of his time, Shahid Kapoor delivers a performance worth his pedigree. Through his acute portrayal of a hapless son, torn between the love of his mother and revenge for his father, Mr Kapoor is a force to reckon with. Watch him in any scene. He literally towers over the rest of the cast. Be it the AFSPA vs Chutzpah scene or the chowk scene where he goes mad about the existence of the people of the land or the scene with Shradhha Kapoor where he contemplates about his own presence, he is outstanding! In the scenes where he confronts Tabu about his father’s death and her infidelity, which he can’t fathom because of his own Oedipal syndrome, brings the viewer on the edge of his seat. Shahid the dancer doesn’t disappoint either. In Bismil, where he sings the tale of betrayal for his father, you don’t see the finesse of an act put together. Instead, the anguish of a broken son pours out through his eyes. Truly bravura performance.
Music is an essential part of Mr Bhardwaj’s films. Gulzar sahab’s lyrics are woven to life through a brilliant music score. Aao Na, Bismil are the pick of the tracks. The background score is amazingly serene yet capable of hitting the top chords when required. A superb cinematography, as well as the crisp editing, brings authenticity.
Wittily black, Haider is a poetry in motion. Here, staying true to the original, Mr Bhardwaj retains the skull scene and the cleverly shot grave digging scene (The rendition of So Jao gives goosebumps !!!) but gives the ending a dramatic twist to let Haider choose between revenge and forgiveness. In one of his interviews, he had claimed that the movie is not anti-India but he would definitely comment on what is anti-human. He paints a bloody masterpiece where he claims that only the grass gets crumpled when two larger animals muscle it out. More importantly, he neither take sides nor tries to factualize anything, yet he merely presents them on a plate. It’s you, beloved (read with a hard D sound !) viewer who gets the chance to decide between fact and fiction and ask yourself the question –
To believe or not to believe…
To be or not to be…