To write this review I watched 'Hamlet'... a 4 hour long movie (review coming up). Because that is the only play of Shakespeare I have not read. Why?
- It is a dark... dull... and very serious play... there is no comic or romantic relief
- It wasn't part of the course... but then I did read plays that were not part of my course

If Haider was not based on 'Hamlet' my views about the movie would be completely different. Some of the reviews say it is the best Vishal Bhardwaj till date. I have watched all the movies he has directed (except Makdee which am going to watch today/tomorrow) and liked all of them. But Haider is NOT his best film.

Hamlet was the King of Denmark and was killed. The throne passes to his brother who marries the queen. Jr Hamlet loved his father and is very sad with the death. He also feels betrayed that his mother married his uncle so soon after the death. Jr comes across Hamlet's ghost who asks him to avenge his death. The uncle had poisoned him and made it seem like it was a snake bite. He asked his son to spare the mother though and let her guilt be her punishment. Jr pretends to go mad after this... to divert people's attention. He was having an affair with Ophelia but she breaks it off after her father asks her to. First Jr confirms that his uncle is actually guilty by staging a play on his father's death and noticing the uncle's expression. Then he confirms that his mother was unaware about the murder. Finally, he thinks of ways to kill the uncle. In the meantime, troubled by Jr's behaviour the uncle is also planning to get rid of him. The opportunity presents itself when Jr kills Ophelia's father by mistake and her brother wants to take revenge. They have a duel during which... the queen is poisoned by mistake... Jr kills the uncle... Jr dies because he is also poisoned. Everyone dies by the end.

Onto Haider... Haider's father, played by Narendra Jha, is a doctor and treats militants. On one occasion, he performs an operation on the militant in his home. His wife, Tabu, is very upset with this. The father is caught by the army and taken away. When Haider, played by Shahid Kapoor, returns home... his house has been burned, his mother is living with his uncle, Kay Kay Menon and there is no trace of his father. He immediately suspects something brewing between his mother and uncle but leaves the house and sets off in search of his father. This is in 1995 when atrocities in Kashmir were common. People disappeared on the slightest suspicion... the army has powers to pick up anyone at anytime without proof and do whatever with them. People may or may not return but they were never the same after the experience. There are many movies who have touched this subject but in Haider you actually get to see how brutally it happens. I was moved to tears specially because the Kashmir issue is close to my heart since I travelled there in April and seen the life people lead.
Irrfan Khan contacts Haider through his gf- Shradha Kapoor and asks him to avenge his father's death. Apparently his uncle was behind the imprisonment so he can marry his mother Tabu. Haider is enraged and (pretends to go) goes mad for sometime.
What happens next is exactly like in the play... he realizes his mother was unaware about the murder... mistakenly kills Shradha's father... Shradha kills herself... her brother wants to avenge the death... and in the end everyone dies except Haider. The uncle is maimed and Haider decides to let him live since that is a fate worse than death.

Points I loved :
- You get to see the real Kashmir... the small, wooden houses... tiny lanes... the dirty canal... against a backdrop of the beautiful mountains and the snow
- The music. There is a song where 3 men are digging a grave in the snow and the digging sound is part of the music. Awesome
- The fact that the backdrop is Kashmir... and Kashmir issue. There is a scene where Haider says that we don't want India or Pakistan... we want freedom. That is the exact sentiment of people in Kashmir
- The performances... perfect... superb actors. In fact, Shahid Kapoor was the weakest link initially... but still good and much better than so many other actors. I think Vishal brings out the best in him. He should really stop doing crap movies like Rajkumar, PPNH and do more arty films. Shradha Kapoor is quite good too.

What I did not like:
- Wish Bhardwaj had a ghost in the movie instead of Irrfan Khan... would have made it darker... The plot with Irrfan was un necessary
- In Hamlet... Jr/the Prince could not have been easily harmed by the uncle... but in Haider, all the forces are against him- army/cops/uncle... anyone could have easily killed him
- In Hamlet... it was possible for the Prince to kill the uncle... he had enough resources... but in Haider, he does not. His uncle is too powerful. There was only 1 scene where he comes close to killing his uncle but then decides not to... I did not even see him try to kill the uncle after that
- Un necessary sex scene and romantic song. Why add sex when not needed? It was completely random
- In the 2nd half I felt like Vishal has added twists and turns to be true to the Hamlet story. A lot of things could have been eliminated and the story made tighter.

Despite the faults I liked the movie. It is worth a watch and I did not get bored even once. In fact, I was completely engrossed and asking my companion to stop talking so I can watch the movie. I hate it when people talk in an intense movie. And I'd rather watch a movie alone than with someone like that.


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