Film: Haider

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon

Storyline: Shakespeare lives! Seldom if ever, has a Shakespearean tragedy been given such a magnificent treatment in cinema of any language. Sure, the narrative is fractured and fatally flawed at times, but like the hero's villainous uncle, who lies limbless writhing in pain in the Kashmiri snow pleading for death at the end, the narrative dares you to end the pain of a people who wear their brutal existence on their sleeves.

Vishal Bharadwaj's 'Haider' is set in 1995 in Srinagar, at a time when Kashmir was suffering the most with armed insurgency growing in power. Shahid Kapoor who plays 'Haider' in the flick returns to his hometown after he get to know that his doctor father Roohdar, played by Irrfan Khan has gone missing.

Tabu who essays the role of Haider's mother Ghazala, is left in agony after her husband disappears. She is seen constantly struggling to save herself from an insecure life and her son from getting waylaid into the world of militancy.

Eventually Haider opts to take revenge from the people who abducted his father for shielding militants. He also helds his mother responsible for his father's abduction and thinks his mother plotted against his father, with his uncle played by Kay Kay Menon.

Haider is caught in a conflict of emotions for his mother, as he can’t decide if he should trust her blind love for him or mistrust her for ‘betraying’ his father and moving on with her life.

The story continues with the dilemma 'Haider' goes through.


Review: The film offers a treat for cinema lovers. Shahid Kapoor has gone deep into his character to portray the anguish and dilemma of 'Haider'. The stunning actress Tabu is seen in one of the best performances of her career.  

The story revolves with elements of rage, shock, despair and heartbreak, and the stars have delivered their brilliant performances without a fail.

The movie shows some really powerful scenes between Shahid and Tabu, where Shahid can be seen in desperation to break out of her love and be his ownself. Tabu and Shahid get a firm grip on their characters and pitch their emotional compulsions into Kashmir's tormenting tale of terrorism during times of oedipal impulses. Their performing range hits the highest octaves without getting shrill.

At times Bhardwaj's vision turns playfully towards Shakespeare's plays. There is the comic relief in the form of two Salman Khan lookalikes running a video parlour in Bhardwaj's Kashmir in 1995. Salman's films run playfully through the film like a prankish leitmotif, doing nothing to the main charcater's pain-lashed lives.

Once there, the visuals insinuate a profound affinity between nature and man's cruelty. Who knows what goes on in the minds of politicians, poets and other nation builders? "Haider" looks at a grieving son's search for his missing father with languorous affection. There are bouts of tenderness and brutality in the narrative which sometimes overlap without warning.Above all, there are the performances... Towering luminous actors craning their collective creative necks into the director's vision to give it mesmerizing magical spin.

Shraddha Kapoor is fresh faced and natural as Arshiya, Haider’s love interest. She struggles to create space for herself in the mother-son saga. The actress has her brilliant moments towards the end where we see her humming a Kashmiri folk tune in numbed grief oblivious to the world that gave her that grief.

As for Shahid's torn troubled tormented Haider, the actor brings out all the inner conflicts in a shimmering rush of Shakespearean angst. With this one performance, Shahid proves himself notches above all his contemporaries.

But it's Tabu whose haunted face as the bereaved wife and the troubled mother that will stay with me for many years to come. To the role of the mysterious dramatic deceptive woman, Tabu brings a kind of inner illumination that lights up the darkest corners of her character's soul. Her scenes with her screen-son Shahid are smothered in unspoken words and recrimination.

Irrfan has a small but powerful cameo as Roohdaar, who comes as a torchbearer for Haider.

Cinematographer Pankaj Kumar has been titled as another hero in the film. The brilliance of his work has made each shot a visual treat. The beauty of Kashmir valley fills the screen with each moving shot.

The music in the film also has influence of Kashmiri folk songs which make the flick more appealing and authentic.

Helmed by the brilliant story teller Vishal Bharadwaj, 'Haider' comes with an unforgettable climax.

The glamour of 'Haider' lies in fold after fold of poetic statement on love, life and politics. You simply can't help being seduced into attentive submission.

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