Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HAIDER: Who knew a tragedy like this could be THIS gorgeous?

It has just been a few hours since I watched Vishal Bhardwaj's latest offering - Haider. I am still spellbound by what I watched. To write or not to write was the question for a long while, but there is no other way I know to restore my sanity, than to write about it. As always, this isn't a review of Haider, but some thoughts of mine that have been making me crazy since the moment I stepped out of the screening earlier this evening. My current state of mind is like that of a flooded Kashmir. So many thoughts waiting to burst out and make sense at the same time. As difficult as making a film like this, don't you think?

Me with Vishalji, I am the guy in the
white shirt with hands in my pocket.
 I have not read Shakespeare's Hamlet, but I have just ordered for it on Flipkart, now. The genius of Vishalji is that it didn't matter if I have read the source of his masterpiece. It just didn't matter. Just like it didn't matter when I came out after watching Omkara and Maqbool. Frankly speaking, I really don't get the language employed by beloved 'Shekhu uncle'. But I do understand the universe Vishalji creates every single time. Before watching Haider I just had a vague idea of the sorry state of affairs in Kashmir. But tonight I shall weep for all my Kashmiri brethren.

Getting back to the thoughts Haider triggered in my head. My previous landlord was a loaded guy; perhaps one of the richest I have met. His daughter was a paraplegic and so was his wife. His son didn't have a job. But he (the old landlord with squint eyes) had lots of cash. I used to think what's the point of having all that money, if you have such a miserable existence? All I had was Rani's love, and I was the happiest bloke in Andheri West. The landlord on the other hand… And then while I was vacating that house, the landlord decided to dupe me of roughly 8K from the deposit I had paid. I never bothered to get back the lost money, but my happiness was still intact. It actually grew manifold after shifting to the new pad. New writing gigs… new friends...

Haider reinforced my thought that an ugly soul can only beget sadness of all kinds.

One thing that saddened me the most after watching Haider was that the people living in the most beautiful state of the country, were perhaps the saddest. I don't think I will ever visit J&K. I don't understand the irony of life. Why is a place as gorgeous as J&K full of such sad stories? What have they done to deserve the wrath of everybody, mother nature included? I can't even imagine being in a place like that - where I have to prove my identity at every other turn on the street. I just about manage to tolerate the frisking at the malls and multiplexes, without losing my marbles. How do my brethren tolerate this kind of atrocity in 2014?

I am a happy camper - I JUST can't stand sorrow. I tend to flee from sad scenarios. Haider was another zone altogether. From the word go, we know what we are headed for. That's when the genius of the maker kicks in. When life is like that, why can't cinema resonate it? My films are not getting made, I am broke most of the time, but that doesn't mean that I sit in a corner of my room and cry till things change for the better. I still am happy. My brethren in Kashmir go on with their lives, perhaps just like how I do. May be they have found peace amidst the shellings and killings. May be they have their own in-jokes about these morbid happenings around their lives.

In a recent interview, Vishalji said, "Mujhe jo lagta hai, ki jo abhi tak hamari filmein mostly Kashmir pe bani hain, humnein almost always baahar se jaa kar dekha hai." This is the thing about Haider I also loved. We as an audience feel like them, not as an outsider on a tourist visa or some such. I could actually see people being rounded up in Oshiwara police station for no reason and being beaten up for no fault whatsoever. Haider makes you feel like you are right there, in the thick of things. The beatings and killings hurt you. They hurt you deep.

Being the overt 'sentimosanal' guy that I am, I feel crushed to even come to terms with the fact that the things up there in our country are so screwed. Just imagine what a person must have gone through to stone the army guys who are coming for rescue after the floods. Haider is an important film and I hope that one day I do feel free to visit J&K, without being scared for my life. At this moment I just feel like taking a impromptu trip to the so-called 'paradise on earth', but I will not, at least not till I am dead sure that I will come back alive. Pardon the word-play.

 A bit about the film, without giving away any spoilers. This is Shahid Kapoor's career best. I will not be surprised if he wins ALL the 'Best Actor' awards for 2014.  Basharat Peer has co-written what I think is the most gorgeous tragedy film that I have watched till this date. The casting by Mukesh Chhabra is legendary, and in my book it is his career best as well - though he may disagree. A special mention for the DoP, Pankaj Kumar - he has made Kashmir more stunning than the KF calendar makes the bikini babes look like. Kulbhushan Kharbanda sirKay Kay Menon and Tabu are stellar and no words can justify their presence in Haider.

Gulzar Saab holds a God-like position in my entire existence, so I will not make a fool out of myself by rating his contribution to this film. The original background score of Haider by Vishalji is another highlight in this film - it elevates the film to a divine space. Haider is as close to life as life can get. I cannot stop gushing about how overwhelmed I felt while I was watching it. The ovation came naturally to everybody in the audience. I cried a few tears when the character played by Shraddha requested the one by Shahid to cry. 

The concluding song in the honey-soaked vocals of Rekhaji lends hope and fulfilment to Haider. To  quote Vishalji, "Banane kahaan dete hain, bataiye? Indira Gandhi par nahi banni chahiye film? What a graph! What a beginning, middle, end! Bananey denge? Nahi bananey denge. Phir hoga ki jaise woh chahte hain, waise... Take Nehruji ki story. Kitni colourful life hai, kitni committed life hai. Aadmi swaraj ke liye fight kare toh kya colourful nahi ho sakta? Lekin you can't make a film like that - yahaan toh laathi utha kar maarne ke liye pehle taiyyar rehte hain!"      

I only hope and pray that Vishalji continues to make the films that he believes in. I also hope to write or make ONE film like the ones that he has made. I will die a proud bloke. 


P.S.: IRRFAN in Haider got as grand an entry as superstar Salman Khan in a Salman Khan film. Full taali-seeti moment happened!