A Vishal Bhardwaj film is an event for us. He is our tent-pole movie. With his latest one, Haider, he has left his contemporaries far, far behind. A bold and uncompromised take on a complicated subject with a master craftsman weaving magic on screen – dark, depressing, violent, poetic, and gloomy. How else do you like your VB-film? Who else can do it better than him? Over to Nadi Palshikar who just watched the film and jotted down her thoughts.
An MBBS doctor by training, Nadi has also done the screenplay writing course at FTII. She is currently doing Gender Studies at Pune University. Sutak is her first novel which has recently got published. This is her first post on mFC.
Innocence has betrayed him ; Haider’s hands are tied by the red scarf made by the innocent one.
He has been captured by the trickster, the two faced Janus – comic and now revealed to be cruel.
Two funny photographers with the same name are used to depict a two faced trickster.
The trickster working at the periphery of the state.
Periphery, the two photographers (the two Salmans) have not got ‘permanent’ posts yet, but serve.
They have once bestowed a favor – they came and took Haider away on a motorcycle, they took him away to safety.
Now, they are driving him in a vehicle owned by his enemy, they are taking him away to death.
He overpowers them, but after a scuffle, they escape.
Haider now picks up a stone and aims it at the (two) trickster(s). We see in the background that the landscape is full of stones. Hurled by those who had no other defence against the powerful state.
A stone for a bullet. And yet, the world took notice.
For the first time, India’s lack of capabilities to handle law and order situations in an appropriate manner came to light. Surely, firing is an out-of-proportion response for stone throwing, asked citizens.
For 20 years, the biggest threat to security forces was militancy, now it is these stones youngsters are hurling at the speed of 40 kms per hour said the Chief Minister. The age old form of dissent (probably inspired by the Palestinian Intifada) had worked.
To the world was presented a clear picture, literally a picture of who was the strong Goliath in this confrontation.
But back to Haider, and the landscape heaped with stones.
Then as if the stones have joined to become formidable, a big rock. And Haider uses this rock to destroy the cruel shape shifting monster.
We leave the scene with an image of stones, stones…
Beautiful, but strange..like the landscape of Kashmir, this tribute to the young men who risked the bullet to hurl a stone..
Just writing down my response to one scene in the film. The film is full of such scenes, making meaning – so many meanings. What an excellent screenplay by Basharat Peer (Curfewed Night) and Vishal Bhardwaj.
What it achieves – An unlikely adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Unlikely and effective. The setting so difficult, yet so believable.
Every little thing, every spoken word has a purpose, a meaning. Even simple lines of dialogue which may seem just ‘funny’ lines reveal insight. e.g- Haider is at a very low point. He is mentally breaking down. And his girlfriend asks him “kya haal banake rakha hain?” To which his quick and laughing retort is ask me “kuchch lete kyun nahin?” Those of you who were born then, do you remember the 80s Coldarin advertisement? This is 1995, and these two young people were are childhood friends.
They shared this dialogue, laughed about it, when they were children.
Also, those were happier times, easier times.
Now at a very difficult point in their life he calls that line from the past.
Also, for us, as audience – the writers are after all Vishal Bharadwaj who will not have anything purposeless, meaningless in his film, and Basharat Peer who has written Curfewed Night about his personal experiences as a child inKashmir.
He knows that History is not just what you find in textbooks. History is personal accounts. History can be what we experienced in popular culture at a particular time.
As audience we remember that ad – we see Haider remembering that ad.
We shared that experience.
This Kashmiri young man, and us.
The same ad is aired over a geographical location.
We shared it.
We are a part of the same history..
A political stand taken by the film-
I will state it simply – Haider’s monologue about AFSPA is the politically bravest piece of writing that I have seen in film in a long time.
The ending – Even as he ‘hears’ his father’s voice calling for revenge, he also ‘hears’ another voice – his Grandfather’s saying that revenge only leads to more revenge. How can revenge make us free?
How can it give us Azaadi?
Speaking of the AFSPA, remember, when the present government had ruled out changes in the AFSPA?
There was a statement by the army chief which had hurt me then.
He called it an “enabling act” because he said “AFSPA gives Army additional powers to operate in an environment which is marked by very high degree of uncertainty and complexity and an asymmetric environment where you cannot differentiate between a friend and a foe as the terrorist merges with the backdrop and hides amongst the locals.”
A statement that I did not like and now a screenplay that has moved me. See how Kashmir was described?
“environment which is marked by very high degree of uncertainty and complexity and an asymmetric environment where you cannot differentiate between a friend and a foe”
The structure of the screenplay is Exactly that.
The screenplay Is Kashmir.
– Nadi Palshikar