1. Vishal Bhardwaj & Basharat Peer
'Haider' is Bhardwaj's third film adaption of Shakespeare after 2003's 'Maqbool' (MacBeth) and 2006's 'Omkara' (Othello). For 'Haider', Bhardwaj sets 'Hamlet' within a rarely told exploration of Kashmir's mid-'90s violence and upheaval. 'Haider' co-writer Basharat Peer is the author of Curfewed Night, a critically acclaimed memoir based on Peer's experiences as a Kashmiri native. Many directors would read Peer's work and take 'inspiration' from it without crediting the author. Bhardwaj is secure enough to not only place his Hamlet adaptation into the Kashmir described in Peer's book but bring Peer on-board to co-write his film. Their collaboration makes 'Haider' a unique success, as Bhardwaj exploits the natural beauty of Kashmir as other Indian directors have done but Peer provides the unacknowledged (by Bollywood, anyway) ugliness of Kashmir's recent past ... all while infusing one of Western civilisation's most famous tales of familial f*ckedupness into its plot.
2. The acting of Tabu, Shahid Kapoor & Kay Kay Menon.
|Tabu & Shahid Kapoor|
I've always considered Kapoor more of a haircut than an actor but as Haider/Hamlet he literally shears his wavy locks and makes a herculean effort to embody the surging madness of a man tasked with avenging his father's death. Kapoor's physicality serves him well, as this adaptation of Hamlet provides a backstory the original does not, and he succeeds at expressing equal parts love and loathing for his mother.
|Kay Kay Menon|
All the cliches of Bollywood are on display and absolutely essential here. Why? Because no one, in any film industry, does dance numbers better than Indian filmmakers. In the case of 'Bismil', where Haider confronts Khurram and Ghazala with the truth about his father's murder, everything about the scene is perfect. No CGI, no massive soundstage ... just a bloody fantastic song and dance number (sung by Sukhwinder Singh, a favourite of mine) filmed on location in a land fought over for centuries not for strategic importance, but natural and spiritual beauty.
4. The two Salmans.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun. Again, the norm for any 'serious' Bollywood film is to dilute the darkness with colossally moronic bad guys who dump -- really bad -- slapstick humour to every imaginable scenario. Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the two Salmans are minor characters but, with Bhardwaj at the helm, are used sparingly to lighten a darkening plot. Their screen time is limited but they remain memorable.
5. Films this good MUST be rewarded.
It's pointless to compare 'Haider' to commercial Bollywood films but its release on Oct 2 coincided with a big-budget B-wood film called 'Bang Bang', so I will. For every height reached by 'Haider', 'Bang Bang' flagrantly disregards, instead tumbling into Bollywood stereotype: It steals from an unimaginative Hollywood film called 'Knight and Day'; it stars two of the best-looking people on the planet whose acting talents, sadly, go spray-tan-deep; it's loud, silly, violent and ultimately meaningless, and happily so, as this is what self-proclaimed Indian movie executives believe guarantee good opening box office.
And they're right. 'Bang Bang' is the fifth highest opening film in Indian cinema history.
Times of India:
According to a report in Koimoi.com, Bang Bang raked in approximately Rs 4 crores on its second Friday. The film has certainly made its way to the top as the total domestic BO collection stands at Rs 139.45 crores. While this is touted as a big release, the report further adds that the film is soon set to cross the Rs 150 crore mark in the domestic market.Note how 'word of mouth publicity' is close to a pejorative in Indian filmspeak, as if the ability to draw positive attention without Hrithik Roshan and/or Katrina Kaif losing his/her clothes is second-rate.
On the other hand, the Shahid Kapoor starrer Haider is impressing audiences. An adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Haider is also going steady at the box office. A report in Koimoi.com adds that the film in its first week run raked in Rs 41.36 crores at the domestic box office and in the overseas market, has managed to do a business of Rs 10.43 crores. Overseas, the film stands at a total collection of 1.9 million USD.
Both Haider and Bang Bang released on October 2 and while Bang Bang has done in terms of BO collections, Haider is being lauded and the word of mouth publicity seems to be working in the film's favour.
The guy flipping burgers at Mickey D's doesn't care if his burgers taste good or hold nutritional value. He only cares that you buy them and he gets paid. 'Haider' ain't a hamburger and its creators didn't do so for financial gain. All the more reason for their film to be rewarded by YOU while it's still in cinemas.