Haider is not just 'a' film. It is 'the' bravest film of our times. The makers of this film don't shy away from making their political leanings amply clear, and this itself is a win for our democracy. Before I even talk about the merits of the film, I must respond to a question which few friends of mine asked, when I posted a status about Haider earlier on facebook. (Disclaimer: I am neither an expert on Kashmir, nor on politics. So I don't want to talk about criticism of the film in terms of its politics.)
And my response to those few friends is - I didn't think about our army in bad light. I didn't even once think (I watched the film twice) that Kashmiri Pandits' story needn't be told. I just felt Vishal Bhardwaj made a film about an individual and his family. About those lives where politics wreaked havoc. The sides really didn't matter. Vishal opened up a debate, on never before discussed topics in Hindi films, like AFSPA. And that's his victory. Now any other film maker can bravely go ahead and show the other side through another thought provoking film. That would not only be good for Indian Cinema, but also for people like us, who are otherwise distant from such issues.
Now coming to the film review. Haider is a film, which, I can watch many times over, without getting bored, because of superlative acting by everyone. I was mighty impressed by background score of "roohdaar". I loved the fact that there was nothing bollywood'ish in the structuring of the film. Vishal Bhardwaj and Bashrat Peer kept surprising us with their excellent dialogues which you can't tire of hearing again and again. The film is so nuanced that one can discover new aspects every time one watches it. The screenplay is paced well and it throws enough scenes at you which will haunt you long after the film is over. I will never forget the one where Shahid Kapoor draws a parallel between Kashmir and a "qaid-khana" or between AFSPA and Chutzpah. Then mad outburst of Shahid's Haider at Lal Chowk is an eye opener. And so is his performance in the song 'Bismil'. (Here I must mention Gulzar's penmanship. He always gives his best to Vishal's films). Irrfan Khan's scenes, especially that hilarious scene about the "New Disease", will leave you numb. Tabu and Shahid's scenes, where you feel undercurrents of Oedipus Complex are winner too. Shraddha Kapoor's last scene is a forewarning of the imminent destruction and she does that without any dialogues. She is fast turning into a very proficient actor. The song "Aao Na" and the entire "Salman and Salman" track provides sufficient dark humour, where Vishal's signature style is visible.
And finally for me, Kay Kay Menon emerges as the best actor. The fate he meets at the end and where the film deviates from Hamlet, is a knock-out punch. This film is a piece of art in every which way. It is the best film of this year so far. It is so good that my review doesn't lives up to it.