Monday, August 13, 2018

Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider: A Bollywood Hamlet

Haider. Dir. Vishal Bhardwaj. Perf. Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, and Shraddha Kapoor. 2014. DVD. UTV, 2015.

After directing Maqbool (for which, q.v.) and Omkara (not yet covered by this blog), Vishal Bhardwaj turned his directorial attention to Hamlet with his Haider.

Like his versions of Macbeth and Othello, Haider is a violent reimagining of Shakespeare. It's set in Kashmir, and part of the film contemplates the divided identity of the region.

Haider spends the first part of the film not knowing whether his father is alive and imprisoned or disappeared and dead. When he finally learns that it's the latter, he seems to lose his mind in earnest (though it's still hard to tell whether it's an antic disposition or genuine madness). In the scene below, the Claudius and Gertrude analogues arrive at the scene of a speech Haider is making to a crowd of people—it's something of a mad riff on "to be or not to be."

Not long afterwards, the Gertrude and Claudius analogues marry. After (or as part of?) the festivities, Haider puts on a giant Bollywood number that serves as something of a play-within-the-play. 

Haider is a fascinating, deep retelling of Hamlet that explores issues of rule and succession in a contemporary setting.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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