#Haider, Hindi bollywood film movie review, #JohnsonThomas Rating: * * *

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#Haider(Hindi) Rating: * * * Brooding mayhem! There’s chaos in the plotting but in terms of form it’s one of a kind. Kashmir has never looked so incredibly beautiful on screen before. The beautiful compositions both visual and aural convey a uniqueness that transports you right into the unparalleled natural beauty, turmoil and turbulence of the troubled state. Unfortunately they don’t fit well in the schema of the brooding dark narrative that #VishalBharadwaj employs. And neither does the background score which attempts to go ‘POP’ whenever there’s an event in store. This attempt of a Hamlet set in Kashmir has it’s moments of intense engagement but the unconvincing plotting and unsavory attempts at levity (Chutzpah-AFSPA)makes it well short of bountiful. It’s an ambitious effort but not exactly a brilliant one. #Tabu is magnificent as the new-age Mother India #KayKay is amazing and #IrrfanKhan adds lethality to that brilliance. Production design by #SubrataChakraborty & #AmitRay, costume design by #DollyAhluwaliaTewari, cinematography by #PankajKumar are outstanding. #VishalBharadwaj #DisneyUTV #ShahidKapoor #Tabu #ShraddhaKapoor #IrrfanKhan #KayKayMenon #ParulGossainPR #SiddharthRoyKapoor

Hindi film review
Johnson Thomas
Brooding Mayhem
Film: Haider
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shahid Kapoor, Shradha Kapoor, Kulbhushgan Kharbanda
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Rating: * * *

After the twin disasters of ‘Saat khoon Maaf and ‘Matru ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ Vishal Bharadwaj once again dons the mantle of director- this time though he rests his laurels on adapting Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet.’ After all his best films(Maqbool, Omkara) have been adapted from Shakespeare so he must have guessed that he could’t go too far wrong in this new-fangled attempt. And he doesn’t – It’s definitely not as bad as his last aforementioned venture. And it’s certainly better than his middling effort (Kaminey). So if not brilliant in assay, it’s at the very least gratifying in bits and parts.

Juxtaposing the internecine intrigue and politics of a well-known muslim family against the turmoil and turbulence of a state whose contentious issues are much larger than this context implies and re-imagines, renders this story-telling session a little too convenient and riddled with contradictions that never get cleared up. The script set in 1995, by Basharat Peer and Vishal Bharadwaj himself, does not have the vision, the understanding nor the substantive logic to make the ensuing dramatics convincing. Firstly the Kashmir setting was not a necessity for this Hamlet adaptation. The insurgency issue, the disenchantment with the administration, the half-widow, AFSPA angle never gets integrated in the narrative in a convincing manner. Add to that the unsavory attempts to lighten the mood by spoofing Salman Khan’s on-screen antics and portraying the potentially potent AFSPA issue in the form of a joke. There’s also the fact that the lead character Haider(Shahid Kapoor) moves around in a so-called army occupied zone in a care-free manner, speaks of a contrived convenience rather than an integral one.

Haider has just returned from Dehradun to find his home has been shot to bazooka smithereens, his Doctor Father is missing and his mother Ghazala(Tabu) who has been provided alternate accommodation in her in-law’s home, he sees in a compromising position with his ambitious paternal uncle Khurram(Kay Kay Menon). A little too much for this young man to handle- so he walks out in a huff just when it’s curfew time and gets rescued from a search and interrogation by his childhood friends -twin Salman Khan crazies who have been instructed to keep an eye on him by the army chief. He also happens to be in a childhood old relationship with Arshiya(Shradha Kapoor) a local press reporter who aids him in the search for his missing father. She also happens to be the daughter of the army chief who sets the two Salman’s on Haider’s trail. What I couldn’t figure out was why the chief needed the fake Salmans to do duty when his daughter was much closer to the target and in a much better position to do the deed. There’s also the fact that she is aiding Haider in the search for his missing father when in fact it’s pretty much obvious that her father might have had something to do with it. There are quite a few logical missteps in the set-up and exposition and the attempt to make it all converge to an end that doesn’t come through as natural makes the experience less than involving. The sheer predictability of the narrative is also one of the film’s biggest weak points. Vishal’s invocation of the bard at key moments- the not-so-pronounced Oedipal complex, a faint incestuous undertone, the Bismil song enactment, Haider's public pretence of madness, the singing grave diggers, Arshia’s inability to come to terms with her own involuntary deception towards her lover and the appearance of the father's ghost- all key plot points from Hamlet, does not fit in well, within the contrived narration.

What takes your breath away though is the sheer beauty of the awesomely cinematographed landscape, the stunning backdrops for every major conflict, the sheer potency of some of the performances and the musical interludes and their choreography. Unfortunately none of these features combine well-enough together as an integrated whole. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is hauntingly beautiful- every frame represents a composition worthy of high praise. Unfortunately the chaotic narrative and the uneven splicing doesn’t allow for complete immersion in that outstanding feature. The musical interludes come across as forced and in fact take away much of the tension from the build-up. The background score is also not subtle enough-it comes across as ingratiating and obvious. The impressive Production design work by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray and costume design by Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari make the package look much richer though.

Tabu is magnificent as the new-age mother India who despite her conflicting needs is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. Narendra Jha as her doctor husband has his sanguine moments too. Irrfan Khan does a diabolical, impressive guest appearance, Kay Kay Menon comes into his own as Khurram and Kulbhushan Kharbanda does an all-too brief cameo that lends nobility to the entire experience. Shahid Kapoor who takes up residence in a giant portion of the narrative is erratic- but it’s not exactly his fault. When the director himself is unsure of which way to go, you can’t blame the actors for their missteps. Haider is shown as rebellious, quick to anger, intent on vengeance, play-acting as someone maddened by grief and then he suddenly jumps into precisely choreographed dance moves that sits discordantly with the run of play. There are moments when his anguish comes through tangibly but it’s not consistent enough. And Shraddha Kapoor , though she fits in beautifully as a Kashmiri, appears a little too timid to be in the shoes of a hard-nosed journalist. So all-in-all ‘Haider’ is certainly not as impressive as it could have been even though it can be considered to be among Vishal Bhardwaj’s more creative efforts.
Johnsont307@gmail.com

Hindi film review
Johnson Thomas
Brooding Mayhem
Film: Haider
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shahid Kapoor, Shradha Kapoor, Kulbhushgan Kharbanda
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

Rating: * * *

After the twin disasters of ‘Saat khoon Maaf and ‘Matru ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’ Vishal Bharadwaj once again dons the mantle of director- this time though he rests his laurels on adapting Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet.’ It’s definitely not as bad as his last aforementioned venture. And it’s certainly better than his middling effort (Kaminey). So if not brilliant in assay, it’s at the very least gratifying in bits and parts.

Juxtaposing the internecine intrigue and politics of a well-known muslim family against the turmoil and turbulence of a state whose contentious issues are much larger than this context implies and re-imagines, renders this story-telling session a little too convenient and riddled with contradictions that never get cleared up. The script set in 1995, by Basharat Peer and Vishal Bharadwaj himself, does not have the vision, the understanding nor the substantive logic to make the ensuing dramatics convincing. Firstly the Kashmir setting was not a necessity for this Hamlet adaptation. The insurgency issue, the disenchantment with the administration, the half-widow, AFSPA angle never gets integrated in the narrative in a convincing manner. Add to that the unsavory attempts to lighten the mood by spoofing Salman Khan’s on-screen antics and portraying the potentially potent AFSPA issue in the form of a joke.

Haider has just returned from boarding school to find his home has been shot to bazooka smithereens, his Doctor Father is missing and his mother Ghazala(Tabu) who has been provided alternate accommodation in her in-law’s home - he sees in a compromising position with his ambitious paternal uncle Khurram(Kay Kay Menon). A little too much for this young man to handle- so he walks out in a huff just when it’s curfew time and gets rescued from a search and interrogation by his childhood friends -twin Salman Khan crazies, who have been instructed to keep an eye on him by the army chief. He also happens to be in a childhood old relationship with Arshiya(Shradha Kapoor) a local press reporter who aids him in the search for his missing father.

There are quite a few logical missteps in the set-up and exposition and the attempt to make it all converge to an end that doesn’t come through as natural makes the experience less than involving. The sheer predictability of the narrative is also one of the film’s biggest weak points. Vishal’s invocation of the bard at key moments- the pronounced Oedipal complex, a faint incestuous undertone, the Bismil song enactment, Haider's public pretence of madness, the singing grave diggers, Arshia’s involuntary involvement in her lover’s downfall and the appearance of the father's ghost- all key plot points from Hamlet, do not fit in well, within the contrived narration.

What takes your breath away though is the sheer beauty of the awesomely cinematographed landscape, the stunning backdrops for every major conflict, the sheer potency of some of the performances and the musical interludes and their choreography. Unfortunately none of these features combine well-enough together as an integrated whole. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is hauntingly beautiful. The impressive Production design by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray and costume design by Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari also make the package look much richer. 

Tabu is magnificent as the new-age mother India who despite her conflicting needs is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon also impress. Shahid Kapoor is erratic. There are moments when his anguish comes through tangibly but it’s not consistent enough. And Shraddha Kapoor , though she fits in beautifully as a Kashmiri, appears a little too timid to be in the shoes of a hard-nosed journalist. So all-in-all ‘Haider’ is certainly not as impressive as it could have been even though it can be considered to be among Vishal Bhardwaj’s more creative efforts.
Johnsont307@gmail.com

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