I saw “Haider”. Of course four year later! Does it make a difference ?
No. In relevance “Haider” is still alive. In contemporaneity “Haider” is still present.
Backdrop : Turmoil ridden Kashmir.
A doctor decides to treat a militant of his aliment who requires urgent surgery. He brings him home to avoid being seen. He operates on him and keeps him in hiding.
The question here is : should a man, who by profession is a saviour of life, be daunted by the ism his patient goes by?
As it happens, the cruciality of the situation is overlooked. The Army takes away the doctor in the name of interrogation. He never returns.
Sometime later his son, who was sent away to Aligarh Muslim University to “be exposed to the other side of Hindusthan” returns home and finds his uncle (father’s brother), Khurram, courting his mother, Ghazala.
Haider’s mother, by the local parlance, is a ‘half widow’ – a woman who is unsure whether her husband is dead or alive.
Her fidelity is questioned by her son. She says she was never a part of her husband’s life the way a wife should have been. She accuses her husband of being self-centred. Had he really cared about his son’s future, he would not have taken the risk of harbouring a militant.
Should she still mourn his absence and spend the rest of her life in eternal wait for a serendipitous come-back?
Son’s verdict is that she is two-faced and deceitful. Yet he loves her. A love which almost borders on the Oedipal attraction.
The son, along with his beloved, embarks on a quest to find his missing father. Not knowing that her father, a police officer, is using her to keep a tab on her boy friend, Arshia lets out the secrets of Haider’s whereabouts.
In the meanwhile, Khurram decides to join politics. To dig out the truth about his brother’s disappearance, is one of his election mandates. By profession he is a lawyer who has the most number of captives or disappeared militants’ or non-militants’ cases on his hands. He mints money by giving false hopes to their family members.
Khurram is the face of the opportunist survivors of political upheavals who sustain themselves by latching on to the existing power groups. He is hand-in-gloves with the Police and the Army. At the same time, he has always been passionately in love with his sister-in-law.
In comes Roohdaar, a ghost from the past ,who tells Haider how Khurram conspired to kill his father. From then on its Haider’s mission to avenge the murder of his father.
Its in the midst of this personal battle versus political conflicts, that Kashmir, the heaven on earth, is seen to be tarnished with grit, gore and foul vengeance.
The Hamlet-ian indecisiveness in Haider is interweaved in the fabric of the scarred valley – to be or not to be….hum hai ke hum nahin!!
Haider poses questions which have been asked time and again whenever humanity has come under the threat of extinction, its age-old values have been challenged and the boundaries of its established social norms have buckled under the pressure of survivalism.
However, Haider does not seek answers. It does not tell but shows. In that sense, it has an odd haiku-ian contour which is unique in terms of cinematic narrative.
And then there is that old school of thought which still believes that revenge perpetrates endless and vicious cycle of counter-revenge – a fruitless and deceptive means to attain freedom – which may rather be alternated with peaceful negotiations that once a “lathi-wallah” adopted to unshackle the sub-continent from colonial slavery.
The debate continues…
The dilemma continues…
The dichotomy of to be and not to be persists…
Haider epitomises the misguided youth, ruthlessly butchered by the oppressive machinery of law enforcers, limping on its axis, indeterminate whether to forgive or to fight back.
Does Haider loose hope?
As he staggers towards a seemingly serene horizon leaving behind the carcasses of a macabre past, a change of heart is what appears to be the driver.
But in his universe forgiveness is a bigger punishment, a more fitting verdict than wrath can mete out.
Haider lives on … on a tilted fulcrum….. bruised and battered…… in search of a better world.