Although Haider brings along a madness of an unusual sort, a spectacular one, to term it as mere madness would be a complete lie – for Haider holds more than that. It’s method in madness.
The Kashmir of 1995 is the hamlet of Haider. Entangled in the tensions between the militants and the AFPSA, it carries away many lives including that of Dr. Hilal Meer, Haider’s father into one of it’s many snow beds following a crackdown. It then draws a quiet Haider within itself and also within a contagious feeling that many of his fellow Kashmiris hold secretly, that of inteqam. Revenge. The feeling, which is an outcome of his father’s disappearance, the system’s inability to help him, his uncle’s treachery and finally his mother’s infidelity, seeps inside him with a steady pace and it’s animation comes alive on the screen with an unprecedented detail for which the trio of Vishal Bharadwaj, Bashrat Peer and Shahid Kapoor deserve an ‘attaboy!’
Ghazala, Haider’s mother, played by Tabbu however steals the show in spite of all the other powerful and wonderful characters that the film offers. Her heart, infested by passion for her brother-in-law, vulnerable when it comes to her son, and manipulative when it has interests of it’s own, can be read without a blemish – because Tabbu translates it to precision on her face. Her’s is a performance that deserves a bag full of awards. Also the Oedipus Complex has been showcased very intently between Haider and Ghazala, which is probably one of it’s kind in the Indian film industry.
Just when one begins to observe and become certain of the fact that set in Kashmir, Haider is a delicious scene-to-scene re-imagination of Hamlet, Haider baffles you when instead of the famous ‘to be or not to be?’ he says, “Hum hain ki hum nahin hai?” It is the moment of the film that makes Hamlet evolve into Haider, a lad in the Kashmir of 1995, looking for a father who isn’t there.
There is a fine line between a hero who follows a rightful revenge in his heart and a villain who is blinded by extremists under the veil of revenge. Haider dances madly on this fine line with a method about him, and while you leave the cinema hall, he leaves you at the mercy of your wit – to be (on his side) or not to be?
That’s you. That, is Haider.