Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 2nd October, 2014
Time : 161 minutes
Director, Writer, Music: Vishal Bhardwaj (based on William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet); Co-writer : Basharat Peer;
Starring : Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Narendra Jha, Irrfan Khan, Lalit Parimoo, Aamir Bashir, Sumit Kaul, Rajat Bhagat, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
The most beautiful places can be the settings for the darkest of deeds. The vivid red splashes of human blood on an otherwise pristine, white blanket of powdery snow. The desolate magnificence of winter. The gushing, glorious river being used to cleanse all manner of sins. The bare, stark limbs of a tall trees providing cover for the rich, human drama that unfolds in what was once Paradise.
Hamlet acquires a Kashmiri makeover in Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest masterpiece. Shakespeare’s story of a young prince returning home to find his father gone, his uncle king and his beloved mother the new king’s consort, finds new meaning in the very special Indian state. Where broken promises, the ugly beast of religious fundamentalism, the brute strength of the military boot and most of all, the meddlesome politics for petty gains have ensured a state which remains Paradise only in name.
Shahid is superb as the innocent boy-man who returns to find his manipulative mother, Tabu, smiling, singing as she is being wooed by his hungry-for-power uncle, Kay Kay, just a few days after his soft-spoken father, the good doctor, Narendra Jha’s, disappearance. His subsequent journey, loss of innocence, the blossoming of his love with childhood sweetheart, Shraddha Kapoor, his brush with militancy via Irrfan Khan’s brief appearance and his run-ins with the law represented by the head of the local police, Lalit Parimoo, also Shraddha’s father make for a delicious study of human motives and dilemmas.
Betrayal, greed, filial love, lust – for power and for the female form, the desire to do good irrespective of the cause, the purity of a sweetheart’s love and the burning fire of revenge form a potent mix and compete against one another in most of the key characters at some point or another. Each one, at the end, betrays and is betrayed, as they seek to resolve the maelstrom that envelops their lives.
Shahid and Tabu are superlative amongst a luminous star cast. For Shahid, this film is not about his chocolate candy looks but more about acting prowess as he struggles to find his way amongst conflicting information and emotions. Whether as the son desperate for his mother’s affection, the lost man in need of his beloved’s unflinching love, or the vengeance seeking mad man – he holds our attention and keeps us spellbound. Tabu is mesmeric, magnificent as the woman torn between various desires. A caring mother, the capricious consort, the wronged and the manipulative, its hard to keep your eyes off her riveting performance. There is also a hint, probably more than just a hint, that there is something deeper than filial love that binds these two star performers !
This film unfolds slowly, weaves a rich tapestry and is filled with melodious music and visual delight. It isn’t for those who only want instant gratification, a thrill or a spill per minute but for those who’re willing to be rewarded for their patience. The best movies play with your mind. Lay out choices, force you to take sides, showcase the consequences and outline simple characters who aren’t black or white but imbued with the many shades of grey. With Haider, even the next day, you’re still looking for answers…