Haider – It doesn’t strike one as an appealing piece of cinema, but come hell or high water this is certainly striking!
UK Release by UTV Motion Pictures – 2nd October 2014
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj
Brief Synopsis: A retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a conflict driven state of war on terror. A young man returns to this homeland to discover shattering circumstances that lead to great strife – a maddening search for the truth begins.
This film is a bomb. This abstract interpretation almost encapsulates everything about this film. On the surface level, the bomb ticks, it goes off and the aftermath brings devastation and then it goes off again to end all cause. On the second level, the aesthetic is in a constant stream of change, it is always amidst the very explosion of the bomb. On a third level, the bomb is even more timeless and clearly depicts the raw humanistic features of destruction that are inescapable. In other words, there is no escaping for the characters in the film and no escape for the audience either (apart from a short interval!).
I was initially puzzled, duly stunned and later on extremely tenterhooks as this exasperating and almost madly dramatic piece of cinema unfolded before me. It is not quite a masterpiece in the sense that I like to think of one; it is almost too impressive in its set pieces and brash in its revelations. It is too energised and well crafted in different places that it feels like three movies in one. However, Bhardwaj is no doubt impeccably masterful in his constructive shifting of tone and constant pace as the film progresses and reaches its intolerable climax.
I don’t feel fashioned enough to Bollywood cinema to understand fully what may lie between the lines, but the initial spectacle of this film is a truly global event and great cinema. Whilst the odd performance felt uncultivated, the lead Shahid Kapoor (Haider) expresses mind-blowing emotions and a fresh unveiling of traumatic circumstances that hits the mark of the near unthinkable. There are interesting relationships in this film; Haider’s relationship with his mother (Ghazala), played by Tabu with an almost equal intoxication, steals the show and presents a minefield of intricacies. A number of other relationships are explored with intricate detail, but perhaps there is too much shape-shifting going on.
Nevertheless, bring barrels of energy with you to the cinema because this is an exquisite treat of explosive and even poetic proportions. You will not guess all the plot twists and turns despite the Shakespeare outlet and you will become almost entranced by the magnetic lead performances.