Watch Haider first, decide why you like it later

Bharadwaj has beautifully woven the many undercurrents and byproducts of living under the shadow of gun.

anju

Anju Yadav | October 4, 2014




When a Doordarshan anchor referred to Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir as Islamabad in the aftermath of the recent floods, she had, perhaps unknowingly, taken a leaf out of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Haider. A young Haider (Shahid Kapoor) returning after seeing the ‘other India’, as his grandfather puts it, makes the mistake, and is consequently held by the security forces as the forces know of only one Islamabad, and that is across the border.

The inexperienced anchor too faced action for her gaffe. Haider, however, was making a political statement on behalf of the filmmaker. Anantnag is known as Islamabad among the locals. Though, the name apparently has nothing to do with Pakistan.

Famous for making Shakespeare’s famous works as much as his own, Bharadwaj is not caught up in nationalistic jingoism in his latest. Set in the strife-torn Kashmir of mid-1990s, Haider is, perhaps, the first mainstream movie to touch upon how ‘Azad Kashmir’, and its soldiers, was propped up to counter insurgency. At the forefront of the government-hoisted militia and a web of informers who turn on their own families to save their skins and for material gains, is Bharadwaj’s Claudius (Kay Kay Menon), who shines in the role as usual.

Bharadwaj has beautifully woven the many undercurrents and byproducts of living under the shadow of gun. One such could be easily forgotten in the dashing entry of Irrfan Khan’s ghostly introduction. Loud clapping and whistles resounded across the movie hall as Roohdaar made an appearance in his cleverly crafted all-white ensemble in a bylane of , is it downtown Srinagar? As he makes his contact with Haider’s girlfriend (Shraddha Kapoor), a journalist, nearby a mother coaxes, in vain, her absentminded son to enter the house. Roohdaar interjects, pats the youth down and orders him inside as an armyman would. The youth goes inside and Roohdaar holds forth on the psychological disorders plaguing the people of Kashmir weighed down by army occupation.

A lot has already been said about the soliloquy sequences, the satire, the tapestry, the scenic beauty of Kashmir, the actors, and even Basharat Peer who co-wrote the screenplay. In the movie, Shahid has studied in Aligarh like Peer and is an educated youth, like him, caught in troubled homeland. Bharadwaj and Peer’s portrayal of Kashmiri middle class families is true to their Kani shawls, the Kashmiri language and the ****ehd English, as a Kashmiri friend put it.

Bharadwaj fans will anyway not depend on any review to watch or not to watch. If at all one must, look for the viewers’ verdict than the odd reviewer who might have her ‘reasons’ to pan it.

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