Did Haider do justice to Shakespeare's Hamlet?

Haider is an amazing adaptation of Hamlet, weaved in a story that encompasses Kashmir, militants, politics and power.

Shafiq Ul Hasan October 06, 2014
William Shakespeare, in one way or another, is an inspiration for every writer. In Bollywood, there is only one director, Vishal Bhardwaj, who has always done justice to Shakespeare’s plots and has done exceptionally well in entertaining the audience. Omkara and Maqbool are good examples of this.

This time again, Bhardwaj, along with Basharat Peer (a Kashmiri journalist), has penned down an adaptation of Shakespeare’s most ambitious play, Hamlet.

After R… Rajkumar and Phata Poster Nikla Hero (the masala entertainers), Shahid Kapoor was offered perhaps the most complicated role of his acting career; a role that needed thorough understanding of the character, emotions and complexities.

Casting of Tabu and Irrfan Khan (Bhardwaj’s signature actors), along with Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Kay Kay Menon, is something that should never be missed by a Bhardwaj-kind-of-cinema fan.

However, with all these ingredients, does Haider manage to impress and create its magic?

Let’s explore.

Photo: Haider Facebook Page

Plot and treatment: 4.5/5

Haider Meer (Shahid Kapoor) returns to Kashmir and finds out that his father, Dr Hilal Meer (Naendra Jha) has disappeared in Kashmir and his mother Ghazala (Tabu) is staying with his uncle Khurram Meer (Kay Kay Menon). He is shocked to notice that she is not mourning her husband’s disappearance.

Not sure about how to deal with the situation, he leaves his uncle’s place and starts to search his father along with the help of his love interest, Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor), who is a journalist.

En route to his father’s search, Haider discovers many unbelievable and shocking facts, especially the one that Roohdaar (Irrfan Khan) tells him. The movie is an amazing adaptation of Hamlet in Bhardwaj’s very own way, weaved in a story that encompasses Kashmir, militants, politics, power, lust, love and the concept of chutzpah.

Performances: 4.5/5

Haider is, by far, the most difficult role offered to Shahid and he has proved that he has his father's acting genes (Pankaj Kapoor – the epitome of talent). Watching him express his emotions of pain and sorrow, with a stoic exterior, leaves one in awe – he is just so natural and perfect. This could easily be a career defining role for Shahid.

Photo: Haider Facebook Page

Tabu is flawless, as always. This role can make viewers easily understand why we don’t see her in every other movie. She has an eye for the right role.

Photo: Haider Facebook Page

Kay Kay Menon is back in form and delivers a performance that is complex and rich in emotions. It is not a simple role to play but the ease with which he makes Khurram's character come to life is truly astounding.

Irrfan Khan never loses an opportunity to impress his viewers. Although as Roohdar his character has very little on-screen time but in every scene that he appears, he leaves his viewers wanting for more. Irrfan knows the art of delivering a complex statement with the utmost ease and conviction.

Irrfan Khan. Photo: AFP

Narendra Jha is a talent to look out for. His subtle jokes, discomfort and pain could easily be felt in every scene in which he was present.

Watching Khulbhushan Kharbanda, after a really long time, is definitely a treat. In a very short lived performance, with just three to four scenes, he excels and leaves a mark.

Shraddha seemed fine but she needs to work on her acting skills. However, getting a chance to share screen space with supremely talented names is, in itself, a great achievement for her.

Music: 4/5

Haider offers one of the best soundtracks, in terms of vocals, lyrics and music. Khul KabhiJehlum and Gulon Mein Rung (by Arijit Singh) are mesmerising. Aona (by Vishal Dadlani) is undeniably a song that stands out from the lot – haunting, lovely and so meaningful.

Bismil (by Sukhwinder Singh) is a classic. It reminds one of Kishore Kumar’s and Subhash Ghai’s magical deliverance in Ek Haseena Thi (from 1980’s Qarz).

Photo: Haider Facebook Page

Direction, dialogues and screenplay: 4/5

Main hoon kay main nahin”, the desi version of “to be or not to be”, is one of the best stealers from Haider. The movie has some awesome dialogues. Direction and screenplay wise, it’s a masterpiece.

At the box office:

It has been observed in the past that creative and performance-oriented movies don’t do as good as masala flicks in Indian cinema. At the box office, Haider will face a fierce competition by Bang Bang and it might not be amongst the highest grosser films of Bollywood but still, it’s a must watch.

I would rate it 4.5 out of 5.
Shafiq Ul Hasan The author is an avid movie lover and reviews films and dramas regularly. He is a professional digital inbound marketer. He has worked with a silicon valley-based social network as a content analyst. He blogs at www.shafiqsiddiqui.com and tweets as @shafiqulhasan81 (twitter.com/shafiqulhasan81)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Ashraf Bhat | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend There is, probably, always something tragic and twisted in “the world’s most filmed story, Hamlet,” [after Cinderella] and Haider is the latest. To contextualise Hamlet after four centuries that, too, with complex Freudian concept (though kept subtle) is indeed a herculean task. As a strikingly revenge melodrama, Haider's plot outline, according to many analysts is similar, though not same to that of Hamlet. Following the Revenge Tragedy genre, Bhardwaj’s attempt to depict staple emotions of Hamlet while keeping his focus firmly on Kashmir is praiseworthy. It would not be an exaggeration to consider Haider a remarkable adaptation of Hamlet, intertwined in a story that encompasses Kashmir, militants, politics, power, lust, love and the concept of chutzpah.
George | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend nice post..
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