When Haider returns home from Aligarh after learning about his father’s disappearance, he snoops through silken gauze, and watches his mother(Ghazala played by Tabu) and Uncle (Khurram played by Kay Kay Menon) sharing blithesome moment,singing Kashmiri folk song “Rosh wala dilbaro”. It lasts for more than couple of minutes,giving good time for audience to introspect psychic of each character and calmly decide dynamic of their emotions. ‘Haider’ is string of such powerful scenes,giving ample of time to understand & absorb complicated emotional dynamics of major characters. It definitely pushes audiences to check patience level but certainly endows them with dark,grim and not so perfect adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ gelled so well with Kashmir issues.
Haider is final part to Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy after Maqbool(Based on Macbeth and with Mumbai underworld as its backdrop) and Omkara(based on Othello in the back drop of UP politics). Vishal Bharadwaj has very wisely chosen treacherous Kashmir of 1995, while just not using it as mere pieces of beautiful sets but making it as a character in itself, picking up issues of daily life of kashmiris to give dimensions to Prince Hamlet, Gertrude, and Claudius. Like the one where a man does not enter his own house until he is searched and asked to enter or where a boy celebrates his survival when he wakes up from pool of death people carried in truck. Most importantaly, the scene where Dr Hilal gets arrested with a nod of a masked man sitting in the Jeep. After disappearance of Dr Hilal Meer from camp, Haider goes in search of him in entire Kashmir as he believes and says,”Pura Kashimir Kaidkhaana hai mere dost,har jagah dhoondunga.” Haider’s journey starts as a helpless guy who has nothing in his favor except hope and his love interest Arshia, and he starts going places with printout of his father’s picture in search of him. It takes long awaited twist when Ghost from the Hamlet , played by mysterious Irffan khan as Roohdaar comes with the message of Dr Hilal Meer which sets the story in motion that is filled with revenge, hatred, betrayal and trust issues.
Ghost of Hamlet’s Father educates his son Prince of Hamlet about whole conspiracy of Claudius poising him, in very similar fashion, Roohdaar uncovers the truth for Haider and informs how Khurram conspired to kill Dr Hilal as he romantically eyed on Ghazala from very long time. Though Haider is confused if he should believe Roohdaar or not, until Khurram hastily marries Ghazala, reaffirming his doubts until Haider plays a masterstroke of re-enacting the whole episode of Khurram’s conspiracy to see guilt in eyes of him like Hamlet enacted on stage with help of troupe of actors at Elsinore.
Haider unfolds at very leisure pace but it is so powerfully character driven that every small character matters including Salman and Salman who are die hard fans of Salman Khan, providing comical relief to this dark saga of revenge,also matter to this movie. Haider played by Shahid Kapoor is very straight character who knows what exactly he wants and what he is looking for. He gets into skin of character with such ease and mostly speaks with his eyes that sees lot of changes around him shifting his emotional quotient constantly . This might be his best work till date, even surpassing his performance in Kaminey. But Tabu’s character has been crafted so beautifully and patiently. It is the only character that remain true to original source. Ghazala has multi-layer characteristics and it never stops surprising with the sudden change of her heart for all three male lead character. Though her love constantly remains same for Haider, but is more intriguing to see her changing inclination for Khurram and Dr Hilal. Tabu looks drop dead gorgeous but at same time she is like time bomb who can explode anytime to change the overall direction of the movie.It was too difficult to read what was on mind of Ghazala. Kay Kay Menon was weak in his role, maybe his character was not well written , though he remarkably outperforms everyone in one scene where he wears the guilt in his eyes, after Bismil song. Songs are soulful and they speak volumes about characters and Kashmir, specially “Aao na” and “Bismil”.
Is this movie best work of VB? This movie is poetic,unlike Omkara and Maqbool. This is more of actual politics in Kashmir while Omkara and Maqbool emphasize only on personal politics. For me, Omkara is VB’s best movie, but definitely this is no less close to perfect film. If ‘Dil se’ was complex story of seven shades of Love,then this is complex story of different shades of ‘Anti-love'(pain,grief,guilt and revenge). Haider is like wine, it gets better with multiple viewing. To get better understanding of Haider, watch it at-least two times .