Movie Review: Haidar – The smartest movie of the year

Haider 2

How these things came about: so shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on the inventors’ reads: all this can I
Truly deliver.

(Horatio, in Hamlet: Act 5, Scene 2)

 

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, imprisoned at Central Jail in Hyderabad (the one in Pakistan), wrote this in his book Dasht-e-Sabaa –

Maqaam faiz koi raah mein jaNchaa hi nahiN
Jo ko-e-yaar se nikle to su-e-daar chale

मुकाम फैज़ कोई राह में जँचा ही नहीं
जो कू -ए -यार से निकले तो सू -ए -दार चले

I didn’t care much for the stopovers on the way; So, I departed from the lanes of the beloved, towards the welcoming gallows

When you read Faiz, the revolutionary poet who was one of the pall bearers of progressive literature, often makes you think that his ghazals and nazms are romantic. Truth be told, they are one of the most definitive fusion of romance and revolution. One would never know for sure if gulon mein rang bhare was written as his yearning for his wife, or his yearning for freedom.

Somewhere, Dr. Meer is singing the same ghazal in an unidentifiably named prison MAMA2, and somewhere else in the movie, a young Haider/ Hamlet is expected to complete the couplet – chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale. And , roohdaar (Irrfan Khan – rooh= Ghost, daar = gallows/ house), the prison mate of Dr. Meer/ the ghost of King Hamlet, narrates the backstory.

Tell me now, why wouldn’t you fall in love with this movie?

Haider 1

The juxtaposition of scenes and characters is brilliant.

The movie begins with Dr. Meer (King Hamlet of Denmark) getting picked up by the army under AFSPA and disappearing after that, Ghazala/ Gertrude (Tabu) watching on as Zahoor prays while his band of extremists are taken out by the army and her house is blown up, a bearded hairy Haider/ Hamlet returning to find his father gone and his memories burnt to ashes, Arshia/ Ophelia (Shraddha) fighting for her independence while really being a stooge in a patriarchial society, General Parvez Lone/ Polonius (Lalit Parimu) playing the fine role of a suave strategist army man who would go any lengths to get his way, and finally, Khurram/ Claudius (Kay Kay), who is the slimy conniving uncle that he needs to be. The splitting of Horatio into two Salmans(Salman Khan wannabes) copying the dance steps of “mere rang mein rangne wali”  is as brilliant a take as was the conversion of the three Macbethian witches into the two inspectors of Maqbool – “satta ke santulan ke liye aag ke liye paani ka bhay jaroori hai”.

And the final nail – Roohdaar, as the ghost of the dead King (Irrfan), whose puffed burnt eyes that are not able to sleep in the night.

 

Why would you not fall in love with this movie?

The acting is special. Even from Shahid Kapoor who everyone thinks will destroy his father’s rich legacy. Irrfan, Kay Kay, Tabu, Shraddha, Lalit Parimu and the others – they all just fit the piece.

The music, with the exception of ‘kabhi khul toh’, is intricately woven with the movie. A special standout mention for Bismil, So Jao and Jhelum. [on a separate note, purist as I am about ghazals, I think Arijit Singh has done a rather fine rendition of Gulon Mein]

The cinematography, coming from the man who gave us Ship of Thesus, brings the tragical beauty of Kashmir to life that few others have done.

The dialogues. Subhanallah. Almost poetic. Right from Chutzpah to Intequaam.

Editing – Again, with the exception of that one song, spot on. There are things left unsaid, unexplained. The audience is assumed to be smart enough to interpret or hypothesize. BTW, who was the man behind the mask? Does your heart go out for Dr. Meer who was supporting a terrorist? Oh wait, was that man a terrorist? Oh, but the army still did something horribly wrong, no? Wait, why are we discussing all this? Isn’t it about Haider’s search for his father and the revenge for what what was done to him? By his own brother? Was there a unrequited romance between Ghazala and Haider?

 

Who cares!! Enjoy the smartest movie of the year my friends! Movies like Haider, with the depth of screenplay, the finesse of dialogues, the detailing of characters, and beautiful visual storytelling, do not happen too often in Bollywood. That it’s a beautiful adaptation of Hamlet makes it more droolworthy*. That I was able to enjoy the movie so much despite me and the biwi having to take turns to play with Laddoo (who was exceptionally energetic all through the show only to drop off to sleep in the last 15 minutes of the movie) should stand testament to the brilliance of Haider.

 

[ *I never thought there could be another droolworthy adaptation of Hamlet after Hamlet-The Clown Prince.]

[Note: I don’t know which moron came up with the #BoycottHaider campaign. But then I don’t know why there is so much outrage on facebook and twitter about most inconsequential things either.]

 

 

Feel like having Biryani? Watch Dedh Ishqiya

Agar batman mar gaya to joker kya karega. Aata goondega?

Agar batman mar gaya to joker kya karega. Aata goondega?

Dedh Ishqiya is a delightful movie. Flows like water, grows like wine.

If you had a doubt that Babban and Khalu’s chemistry won’t be the same the second time over, worry not. The sparks still fly as you continue to marvel at the real undercurrents of their relationship. Naseer and Arshad continue to razzle dazzle you with the best bro-act. You don’t get to say this often- Ghaaghre Ka Pissu Babban stands taller this time, even though the movie belongs to the Nawab of Chandpur Khalujaan.

If you thought Mushtaq Bhai was funny only the first time, think again. He delivers one of the finer Batman moments of the movie right at the beginning

Instead of one, there are two ladies – but it’d be unfair to Vidya Balan to say that they score over her. I am an ardent Madhuri admirer, but Begum Para is only a shadow of the Madhuri of Mrityudand, Beta, and many more. Huma Qureshi almost sleepwalks through her role which doesn’t make her do anything beyond her Wasseypur shades. In her dancing moments, Madhuri continues to be the gold standard. In the Humri Atariya sequence, one cannot but notice the remarkable difference in the grace, style and expressions with which she dances, and Huma is almost an eyesore in that song. However, Vidya Balan, in the previous edition, had a level of evil and vixen-ness that is clearly missing from the leading ladies this time. That said, if the trailer of Gulaab Gang is anything to go by, I have a feeling we are getting closer to the Madhuri Dixit of yore.

The surprise package of the movie (not so much, really!) is Vijay Raj in the role of Jaan Bhai. I have never really written on how brilliant his comic timing can be. Remember Raghu Romeo. Better still, remember the only watchable parts of that horrible movie “Run” ? Vijay Raj is amazingly awesome as the local MLA/ suitor of Begum Para.

Moving on to the non-people parts of the movie – the star of the movie, like the last time, is the quality of screenplay and dialogues. The chemistry of Khalu and Babban would be only half as explosive if not for the dialogues. However, one most not forget the beautiful use of Urdu – the language of the nawabs. The ingredients – nafaasat, adab, tehzeeb aur salika – are all present in their glory, only to be immediately replaced by Khalu and Babban’s Bhopali Hindi with consummate ease. The English subtitles (forced upon me in Dhanbad, of all the places!) destroy the beauty of those dialogues. But if you can avoid getting burnt by the subtitles, Dedh Ishqiya has one of the best written dialogues in the recent times. . I am glad that they enlisted Bashir Badr as the writer for the Urdu ghazals/ nazms. Bulk of the poetry/ selection is exquisite.

di1

Khalu to Babban: Zara lihaaf hi maang lo

One cannot but marvel at the mini salute to Ismat Chugtai’s Lihaaf towards the end, and the various mini allegories thrown every now and then. Noor Mohammad Italvi (Manoj Pahwa of Bhatia Saab fame) being one of them – kyonki humari ammi Sonia ji ki badi achi dost hain. Munira’s Kaagzi Begum reference, and Jaan Bhai’s quest to be a true nawab.

Dedh Ishqiya’s music isn’t as big a chartbuster as Ishqiya’s music was. That does not mean it is not as soulful. Dil ka mizaaj ishqiya may not be an equal of dil to bacha hai ji, but stands tall as a beautiful ballad. The problem with it is that it’s too similar to the earlier one. What one misses is Mika’s ibn-e-batuta anchor, which Honey Singh fails to provide. Humri Atariya, Zabaan Jale Hai, and Jagaave Saari Raina are good parallels to the music of Ishqiya. Unfortunately Begum Akhtar’s Atariya is probably more touching than Rekha Bhardwaj’s. The music blends as effortlessly as any other good soundtrack you’d remember. The qawwali, which does seem out of place when you hear the audio compilation, also merges well with the movie.

The movie runs at a very even pace, and does not slow down anywhere. A copycat moment of sorts is towards the end, where an action sequence has a traditional “Wo Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qaraar Tha” by Begum Akhtar (written by Momin) playing in the background.

To sum it up, Dedh Ishqiya, is like Awadhi biryani. Cooked to perfection, each morsel exploding like a million flavors in your mouth.

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