Haider – a film review

Haider was the first proper movie I watched in Leeds. I say proper because I’ve watched three others as part of my membership of the Leeds university Film Society (newspeak – FilmSoc) which screens its films in a big in house theatre complete with a state of the art sound system. Yeah, I love my uni. But I digress.

Haider is not the easiest of movies to watch. It’s long, quite boring in bits for a person who doesn’t enjoy cinema in its full splendour. It’s an adaption of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which by characterization makes it difficult to watch. Power your way through though because what lies ahead is probably one of Vishal Bharadwaj’s finest.

Kashmir is a tricky topic to handle. To make the argument from what seemed to be the militant side is an even trickier topic. To say he did justice to Kashmir (the cinematography was breathtaking, even in the most gruesome scenes; I would go as far as saying it was quite close to Roja in terms of camera work) and to the original play would be an understatement. Bharadwaj has always had an ear for music that goes with his films and this was no different in that aspect. Dark and twisted at times, he uses the film to explore a lot of psychological feelings that we have buried deep inside.

Shahid Kapoor was one of my disappointments of the first half of the film but he kind of redeems himself in the final third. In what little of a role she had, Shraddha Kapoor did a fine job too. The standout performance is however quite predictably delivered from Tabu. Kay Kay Menon I thought did justice to his role too, though he could’ve done a little better perhaps.

I have to give a special mention to the writing of the film which I thought was beyond creditworthy. There moments in the movie where I would just reflexively go ‘waah’. To get that beauty in bleak surroundings has to be some special kind of talent.

Haider is an emotional whirlwind that takes you for quite a ride and then leaves you stranded in a land where you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with what just happened.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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