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HAIDER :CINEMATIC CHUTZPAH

Chutzpah(noun):-  the quality of audacity , for either good or bad

The word chutzpah has a very special place in this movie. It gets mentioned atleast a couple of times . The word is explained with examples and it is pointed out that ,ironically , it rhymes with AFSPA. And no , it is not a good word in the movie. It represents all that was wrong with Kashmir and the milieu that the characters found themselves peopling.

But , of course , there is another kind of Chutzpah. The good kind. The kind that only a few can exhibit.  It is the word that you use ,when you find that words like brilliance  and élan just don’t cut it. When you see an undertaking that is as audacious in conception as it is brilliant in execution.  When you know the near impossibility of what is being attempted and you see that not only has the impossible become real but that it is alive. The kind of word you would use for this movie.

Undertaking  to retell Shakespeare’s most popular tragedy is audacious in itself. To retell it in the way that this movie has done  is exhibiting chutzpah.

Shakespeare’s most existential hero finds expression in what is perhaps independent India’s most existential milieu – Kashmir. “To be or not be” takes on a different meaning altogether in the slogan “Hum hai ki nahin hain”.   In many ways , Kashmir becomes the real Hamlet , with existential dilemmas worthy of the tragic hero.  Caught between India and Pakistan , between AFSPA and militancy from across the border – the voice of it’s people muted , their protests relegated to the background – Kashmir embodies the dilemma of the tragic hero very well and  “Hum hai ki nahin hain” is indeed apt.

In contrast , the supposed Hamlet , Haider exhibits very few dilemmas. “To be or not to be” is not a question for him. He decides to be. To search for his “disappeared” father. He does exhibit a glimmer of doubt every now and then about the guilt of his uncle , but by and large he is  a man of conviction.

Haider has been extremely ably and poignantly played by Shahid Kapoor.  Brooding most of the time  and  breaking into almost violent emotional outbursts when called for. The character’s love for his father  and  his despising for his uncle have both been brought to life very well. But what stands out is the character’s relationship with his mother. The hatred combined with a vaguely incestuous longing have been portrayed brilliantly by Shahid Kapoor. Truly , a gem of a performance.

Tabu , as Gertrude . excels. Neglected by her husband , falling for her brother in law , worrying sick  for her son’s welfare – the character has many facets and it is , indeed a very complicated character. And perhaps , in lesser hands , the portrayal would have floundered. It is only a fine actor like Tabu ,who could have done justice to the role. And she has. And without doubt , she is the best of the lot in the movie.

Kay Kay , as Caludius is adequate. He is shifty . He is selfish . But he also loves Tabu. While , not a standout performance , he makes the cut. All the other characters deliver too , giving what is expected out of them.

The director has mostly stayed true to the plot of the original play. And while doing so has managed to weave together a story of his own ,which has a meaning far beyond the original tragedy. A superb and brilliant retelling. Chutzpah indeed!!!!

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