Rating : 4.0/5.0
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj
Produced by Vishal Bhardwaj, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Written by Basharat Peer, Vishal Bhardwaj
Based on Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Starring Tabu, Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon
With William Shakespeare being quite the inspirational favourite for many of our Bollywood filmmakers, it’s fair to say that nobody does adaptation of his work better than Vishal Bhardwaj. When he announced that his third attempt of a Shakespeare adaptation would be ‘Hamlet’, there was much excitement about what he would do. As the trailers released, it became more and more certain that this was a film to watch. Pairing Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor for the first time in the film titled ‘Haider’, as well as Tabu and Kay Kay Menon in crucial roles, the film tells the story of love, betrayal and revenge. They are the perfect elements for a brilliant film, though has director Bhardwaj lived up to the audiences’ expectations?
Set in the midst of the Kashmir conflict, Haider (Shahid Kapoor) returns home from studying upon hearing of the disappearance of his father (Narendra Jha), to find his home having been blown up, his mother Gulzaar (Tabu) and uncle Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) being the least bit concerned of the events and his only support being his lover Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor). Taking the responsibility of finding his father upon himself, Haider soon comes across Roohdar (Irrfan Khan), a man who had been with his father during his disappearance. Through Rooh, Haider discovers who the real culprits of his father’s disappearance and murder are, and sets on a mission to kill them and take revenge.
Bhardwaj has again proven his talent immensely through this film. Using the conflict in Kashmir as a backdrop works perfectly well in setting the story, giving Bhardwaj the space to stay close to Shakespeare’s own storyline yet adapting it to a different time; the 90s. The film allows the audience to see the events taking place through the eyes of the main character. As more and more happens, you find yourself almost baffled as to how many things are occurring at one time. As Haider’s physical and mental states begin to change, Bhardwaj gives the viewer the time to take in what his lead is going through.
Shahid performed this role beyond expectations. As his character’s personality changes at different stages, he is able to adapt his performance effortlessly, up to the point that it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing such a role. His equation with Shraddha works well, however, her character is portrayed in a slightly bland way. Despite being on screen, Shraddha plays her character with less effort than one would expect. Still being quite new to the industry, it can be said that this was a good attempt for the actress though she does have a long way to go. Playing the role of a mother, a wife and a lover, Tabu is flawless. Her character’s complexities are somewhat difficult to understand, yet she manages to get the audience to almost sympathise with her character, where she portrays someone who does wrong, but can’t quite be labelled a villain. Menon is no stranger to deceiving roles, and the certain charm that he brings to his character works extremely well in playing the perfect bad guy. Though Khan is only seen in a few scenes throughout the film, his presence doesn’t go unnoticed. From the moment you see him, you find yourself thinking about his character even when he isn’t on screen.