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A Twist on Hamlet-“Haider” A Movie Review February 21, 2015 12:00 AM | Tagged as Bollywood, Hamlet, Ophelia, Shahid Kapoor, Shakespeare

~~We probably should start this with a filtering process.  Do you like variations of Shakespeare plays?  Do you like foreign films with subtitles?  Do you like musicals?  If the answer to these three questions is yes then you have to see this movie.  It is an Indian (Bollywood) movie that was filmed in the disputed Kashmiri region north of India. 
The main stars of this production are, Shahid Kapoor, Haider (Hamlet), Tabu, who is the “Gertrude”, Ghazala Meer, Irrfan Khan is Roohdaar (the ghost character who isn’t the father) and Shraddha Kapoor who portrays Arshia (Ophelia).  Shahid Kapoor is one of my favorite Bollywood stars but he is most popular for his romance comedy musicals and man, can he ever dance!  Tabu may be familiar as she has been in some American movies you may have seen like The Namesake, Life of Pi, and she is wonderful and Irrfan Khan is VERY familiar to American audiences’ from being in The Namesake, The Amazing Spiderman, The Life of Pi, and the upcoming Jurassic World.  He is great in everything he does.  My favorite movie of his is The Lunchbox.  Check it out also!  The director of the film, Vishal Bhardwaj, has directed 2 other Shakespeare variations of Macbeth (Maqbool), and Othello (Omkara). 
As mentioned before, the movie takes place in the India/Pakistan disputed Kashmiri region north of India, in current time.  It also is NOT the Shakespeare text translated into Hindi.  It is in modern language Haider comes home from college to find his father has been arrested for political reasons that were trumped up.  It’s a mystery as to who turned him in until the end.  I think the part I loved the best in this version is the relationship between Haider and Arshia.  They really loved each other and Haider was devastated when she dies.  I don’t ever feel that in the play or other movie versions.  Haider spends weeks looking for his father who has been wrongly imprisoned.  It has been a problem in the region to have family members disappear or arrested and the families never know where they are or what became of them.  Finally he is contacted by the man, Roohdaar, who claims he was in prison with his father.  He tells Haider which prison they were at and explains how they were both taken to a bridge and shot.  Both fell into the water, but Roohdaar, the comparable ghost character, didn’t die but was found.  He had promised Haider’s father that if he got out he would find Haider, tell him who had betrayed him and would seek his revenge. 
Just like the 1996 Romeo and Juliet that was directed by Baz Luhrmann, this production was very clever how they wove aspects of the Shakespeare play into modern day retelling of the story, and it is fun to watch for these. They even work in some of the famous quotes that fit seamlessly into the script.  The graveyard scene, particularly was clever when Haider holds Yorick’s skull, “alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio”(Hamlet act 5 scene 1).   WARNING, this is a violent movie that deals with the trouble that is taking place in the region it is in.  However, conditions have improved somewhat in recent years, and violence is down but it is not for the faint of heart.  Bollywood loves violence but it usually isn’t this realistic.  I would think an older teen could handle it but I wouldn’t let a child under the age of 17-18 see it.  The musical numbers add to the movie but can be skipped through except the “play within a play” sequence.  Haider’s mothers’ reactions are really good. 
I hope I have convinced some of you to find this movie and watch it.  If you do, let me know what you think of it by emailing me at the address listed on the website. 


Posted in Hamlet, Silver charms, William Shakespeare | 0 Replies