(Sidenote: I've been depressed ever since it became clear Haider wouldn't be shown here. So I have to wait for the DVD. But rest assured, I'll write a review then.)
Here it comes:
@shahidkapoor @rekhabhardwaj @Shahid_Online I normally don't do this but after watching #Haider today I gotsta. So here's an honest review by a dedicated shanatic.
Dear @shahidkapoor - and by extension #VishalBhardwaj c/o @rekhabhardwaj - thank you. A long time ago (read 3 years) I didn't watching anything from B-town. It was too illogical, too silly and required a suspension of belief on my part that I wasn't ready to part with. Then I happened to watch #Kaminey by chance. I was shocked at what played out on my screen - a beautifully interwoven masterpiece of a story, acted out brilliantly by shahid and directed with great aplomb by Bhardwaj. It was, as I've said many times before, eerily reminiscent of the kind of movies Quentin Tarantino makes - with a lot less humor and if possible more savage. I loved it, and I ended up loving Shahid thereafter.
Imagine my anticipation when #Haider was announced - my childish in-yo-face glee at each and every positive review that came out since the movie premiered, and finally today when I actually skived off work to attend the matinée show of Haider as an Eid gift to myself.
Boy was I not disappointed.
Haider is a masterpiece - destined to become a cult classic, by which movies of this genre, and in fact all Hindi cinema should be judged by. Of course, being adapted from Hamlet, the Shakespearean work that continues to beguile and enchant readers and actors alike, one could argue that Vishal couldn't have gone wrong. But he could have. Shahid and Tabu and Irfan and KK and Shradda and every single other actor that played any kind of minor role could have bungled the job. They didn't. Thankfully.
What they made together with their genius of a director had me glued to my screen through out the movie, and I am pretty sure I stopped blinking after the interval. I've never had as many goosebumps watching a movie before. I've never heard/watched a bollywood movie song so emotionally raw as #bismil. I've never seen a bollywood movie dare to so blatantly examine and criticize. (Aside: No country is ever in danger by citizens cognizant of its wrong doing, and who brave the jingoists to bring said actions to light. The time to be afraid is when no one thinks for themselves and blindly regurgitates what the politicians feed them. As Thomas Jefferson said "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". ) So hats off to Vishal Bhardwaj, to Shahid Kapoor and the entire cast and crew that believed and delivered.
I am not a film critic. I am not an actor. I can't review the powerful dialogue or the background score, nor aptly describe the breathtaking cinematography. I can't describe how the music, the lyrics, the words helped facilitate my experience of the movie so that I could feel Haider's pain, or Ghazala's struggle to be happy. I can only tell you what I felt as i watched this movie. I felt so much, so deeply, that by the end of it I wasn't a spectator in a movie theatre, but I was Haider as he descended into chaos, I was Ghazala as she grasped at all the straws she could, I was Arshi as she loved Haider sincerely, honestly and innocently ...
Without giving out any major spoilers, perhaps the most poignant part in the movie for me was Haider's non-verbal vehement NO at a moment when Ghazala was saying quite the opposite verbally. I felt that if she had just looked up and seen the magnitude of despair in his eyes she would have stopped. If she had glimpsed how close to the edge he was standing then, she may have desisted. As it were, she didn't. To me that point was when Haider fully crossed over the small thin line between madness and sanity and I grieved for him.
There were many other moments - in fact the movie is a string of innumerable and beautiful moments strung together - some of which the critics have pointed out in their favorable reviews - the beauty of Kashmir, the background score, the visual innuendos, the dancing (oh my god the dancing in bismil is outstanding!), the songs: bismil, aree aao na, khul kabhi tu, the nod to Mehdi Hassan's gulon main rang bhare, haider's monologues, the climax - each worthy of a book written in its praise.
This should be India's contender for the Oscars. This should be a must-watch movie for anyone who watches bollywood/hollywood.
To me Vishal Bhardwaj is a giant among giants - it makes sense to bracket his name in between Martin Scorcese and Christopher Nolan and for Haider to have the all the visages of the action/thriller/drama and morality of TDKR, while simultaneously recapitulating the sad misery, the hopelessness of the Pianist. I am making comparisons to help explain how good Haider is. To be honest, once you've watched the movie you won't need to. It forms a class of its own and stands as a monument and testament to intelligent writing, spectacular story telling, and immaculate acting.
So thank you Vishal. Thank you Shahid. Thank you Tabu and Shradda and Irfan and KK. It was a pleasure. It was an honor. I'm going back to rewatch it because your collective brilliance demands, and is justified by multiple viewing.