Haider – A Hamlet adaptation

Hats off to Vishal Bharadwaj, to his understanding of Hamlet and his audacity to rewrite it. The way he transforms the insanity of Hamlet, to the passion of Haider is praiseworthy.Nobody else could have transformed the undefined complacence of Shakespeare’s Ophelia to the spunk of Bhardwaj’s Arshee.

On a different note, it’s for the first time in Indian cinema that someone has tried to understand and depict the politics, the struggles and the dilemmas of Kashmiris, although missing from the scene are the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits, who left their homes and hearth and whose Zamindars had to live in tents for years because of the militancy and betryal of their own neighbours and friends from the other community.

For That, one cannot Blame Bharadwaj, as the movie is set in 1995, when all the Pandits had already been evicted from their homes, half a decade back.
Still he manages to cite the role of ISI in the destruction of a valley, once comparable to heaven. He does that in the form of ‘Roohdar’, who so ominously says ” you can die, but I will prevail, as I am the soul”. So have countless Kashmiri youth died at the hands of the Roohdar from across the border.

When young Haider sings “Jaago Jaago subah hui”, every Kashmiri who has gone through that phase in 1990s, must have got goosebumps.
When Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and later on Tabu, says that “Revenge begets Revenge, It can’t fetch you freedom “, you can’t help but relate it to the massacre that people of Kashmir had to go through at the hands of their own neighbours, sometimes their own friends.


The scene where Haider kills Salman and Salman reminds me of the place in Mecca where the devil is stoned. And one’s pilgrimage doesn’t complete without pelting stones at the devil. It is Shahid’s film after all. He has done complete justice to his role, and more. He is one of the most underrated actors of our times. His dancing and expressing the complete story’s gist in “mat mil”, makes you want to give him a well deserved standing ovation.

To sum it, Vishal Bharadwaj has done justice to Shakespeare’s Hamlet but made it his own Haider, with such beauty, grace and gore that you cannot leave the hall without taking a piece of it with you. It makes you think.. And think you do.


The only two flaws I could find with it are a lack of proper editing towards the end, where the movie drags a little; And not depicting Arshee’s suicide like Shakespeare wrote Ophelia’s death. Had it been shot exactly like that, it could have been a landmark scene in the movie.

I give Haider 4.5/5 stars




One thought on “Haider – A Hamlet adaptation

  1. Damn, I should have gave this a watch when it was playing at the local theater. Didn’t know anything about it at the time. And the long, long, length kind of put me off a bit! However, I’m glad to know that it is very good. I’m sure another chance to see it will come up!

    Liked by 1 person

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