William Shakespeare (1564-1616) did his most prolific writing between the years 1589-1613; he was the quintessential Bard, has never come close to being duplicated; his works, themes, resonate today as they did hundreds of years ago; no one captures the foils, fantasies, baseness or heroics of the human condition as did this timeless genius.
Director Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Haider” is a spectacular film, emotionally pulverizing; Kashmir (since 1947 ruled by India, Pakistan, China) is the arena in which the tragedy of Haider and his family is spawned; stifling military domination, ambitious plots pervade and inform the narrative, familiar to the majority of viewers.
Shahid Kapoor is mesmerizing as “Haider” ; tormented by the loss of his father, his uncle’s attraction to his mother “Ghazala” (Tabu, is remarkable), his smothered but seething Oedipus angst; desire for revenge propels his pitiful descent into punitive madness. Kapoor’s performance, worthy of Filmfare recognition.
Shraddha Kapoor (no relation to Shahid) displays a gifted, contemporary interpretation of the tragically -doomed “Arshia” (Ophelia); she is feisty, worldly, a writer but still powerless in a restrictive Muslim household; horrific circumstances trigger her lugubrious demise.
Bhardwaj’s twists on the archival scenario lend titillating freshness to the ubiquitous tale: political intrigue, more pronounced; mother/son relationship captures the core of the film; women embracing their role in a strife-ridden, modern society.
Haider rambles, questions whether “to believe or not believe”, “to kill or not to kill”; the answers astoundingly requited in this fascinating film; a profound portrayal of mankind’s frailties, intransigence and tragic flaws.