An Jo on Haider

MILD SPOILERS

HAIDER is a pretty faithful adaptation of the bard’s HAMLET with a deviation from the play only toward the climax [unexpected but gruesome for sure]. Even in being text-book faithful, this is a very strong work by Bharadwaj when it comes to transposing the tragedy of Elsinor castle onto the grief-laden snowcaps of Srinagar. It is particularly arresting and haunting when it cuts through the emotional cysts of Prince Hamlet, Claudius, and Gertrude.

Bharadwaj starts the film with Dr. Hilal, father to Shahid Kapoor’s Hamlet and husband to Tabu’s Gertrude, getting shunned off to an Indian army detention center for having sheltered and treated a militant. Haider is then introduced to us searching for his father anywhere, and everywhere. VB captures the haziness of Haider’s mind when he sees his uncle and mother enjoying a musical session. He sees her through a curtain and all the time, his gaze is fixed on her, and never on the uncle. It is almost as though the translucent curtain represents the ‘confusion’ in his mind about what his mother is; guilty? Not guilty? An accomplice? And then she sees him and comes close to him drawing the curtain away; aiding in clearing his fogginess. He then, with a strong sense of certainty, accuses them of being in an affair and making the most of the disappearance of his father: He replies to his bewildered uncle’s question with – ‘I am talking about what I am exactly seeing.’ There are many cinematic pearls like these strewn across this movie. Like the initial talk between Tabu and her husband about ‘flames’ within and outside of her body and soul. Or the emotional exchange between them while taking a walk amongst fall colors .Infact, all the scenes that have Tabu and Shahid conversing are superbly built and succeed in belting out great emotional wallops. The scenes between the two are superbly written and acted, conveying the right amount of sexual undercurrent as also the emotional distance widening between them.

King Hamlet’s ghost is very cleverly represented by Irrfan Khan’s Roohdar – and appropriately named [Rooh: soul] so. As a ‘ghost identity’, an ISI agent, he shares information about the father’s death and the conspirator with the son. This sends Hamlet over the edge and he takes to arms and plans revenge on his uncle. The song BISMIL BISMIL is a brilliant stand-in for the traveling actors’ play in Hamlet. The song is outstandingly shot and should be in memory for a long, long time as did that other Kashmiri song, BHUMBRO from Mission Kashmir. Irrfan Khan, by the way, gets one of the best entry scenes ever in Hindi films of recent memory, one that is usually reserved for ‘stars.’ And just right before the interval, akin to Jackie Shroff’s entry in that forgettable film, 1942 A love story.

VB provides fine black humor by representing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as Salman and Salman, two fanatics of the actor Salman Khan. This is almost like a nod to Thompson & Thompson from Tintin and the two actors portraying them are a riot. The Oedipal complex is briefly but cleverly hinted at with Haider kissing his mother on the neck or she reminding him that he promised to marry her when he grew up! To be or not to be conundrum is smartly woven into the narrative – even comically with Salman and Salman.

The writing is superior and stays with you; the words, exquisite. The conversation between Dr. Hilal and Roohdar in the detention center is such a terrific tribute to the inventiveness of Shakespeare when it comes to metaphorical gems. “Mein lafaani bhi hoon, faani bhi hoon; shia bhi hoon, sunni bhi, maulvi bhi hoon, pandit bhi,” claims Roohdar. “Aapko duniya se baatne ka mann nahin karta,” says Haider to his mother. Just when you thought that was a compliment, he ends it with “Aap bahut khoobsorat zeher ho.”

VB’s visual intelligence is breath-taking here. I talked of Haider seeing his mother in the film for the first time through a curtain. In a later scene, Haider’s uncle Khurram [Kay Kay Menon] sits beside Tabu grinning after having won an election. She is shown smiling, a tad happy, and she is wearing glares. You or I would never know what’s going on in her mind, since don’t see her eyes. It is only her smile. So is she guilty? Genuine? How can she sit and smile like that when she calls herself a half-widow? And the screen blacks out to transition onto the next scene. The grave-diggers’ song picturization is fantastic to say the least. Or the scene where Haider shows his mother in a broken mirror her two faces. The relationship between Tabu and Khurram is shown progressively. Haider first sees them having fun and bonding over music. The next scene showing their relationship has Tabu waking up from a dream, only to casually reveal Khurram sleeping beside her. And the ghost equivalent Roohdar enters in a way complimentary to his title of ghost-identity, hazy and blurred and clear only after he wipes his glares.

The photography is breathtakingly beautiful and haunting. The striking contrast between the violence and beauty of the valley is well captured. The music is not to the level of Bharadwaj’s other films. There is a kind of ‘sameness’ that creeps in but lyrics by Gulzar and Faiz Ahmed are memorable. ‘AAP KE NAAM’ and ‘GULON KE RANG’ are the stand-outs. The background music is highly successful in aiding and accentuating the situations and emotional arcs of the characters. It aptly conveys the ambiance of impending doom.

Shahid Kapoor has done a fine job of conveying the emotional muddle of going through the process of avenging his father’s death. He is superb in the town-square scene where almost Chaplin-like, he talks of life in the valley under militancy and army. It’s indeed a fine casting choice. Kay Kay Menon is good but one gets the feeling he is trying too hard to act ‘different’. [Watch the scene where he explains to Haider who his father’s killer is and how he plans to catch him]. Irrfan Khan is rightly subdued and distant. Shraddha Kapoor as Ophelia doesn’t leave much of an impact. But I didn’t understand the logic of her playing an English language news-reporter who pronounces loved as lovvveed and used and ussad. In fact, there is liberal usage of deliberate mis-pronunciation: False becomes faales; acts become actus; school becomes sakool. Not sure whether this is the style in the valley or this is something done for effect here. The one that haunts you even after you leave the cinema-hall is Tabu’s Gazala. God knows how she does it but she conveys those myriad moods right into your heart. That face and body-language cover seduction, loneliness, confusion, angst, guilt with such aplomb that one is left stunned.

Finally, when all is so good, the one part that rattled me is VB’s using J&K’s insurgency problem vis- a-vis the Indian Army as the back-ground. It is clearly a one-sided view. [Through the film, the Indian Army is painted viciously black and then, almost as a token, a line is inserted in end-credits saying the Indian army helped during the floods and we salute them! This sounds quite cynical.] It is almost as if you are watching a poetic version of INSHAALLAH FOOTBALL. Now VB strikes as a film-maker who is more tilted toward the humanistic angle in any society and its conflicts; the human cost of war so to speak. This transmutation to the Kashmir issue is fine. But what is out-of-sorts is the insistence on ‘specifics’ which incidentally dulls the message that the greatest victim of any strife is the human. Characters – mainly Haider’s—keep pulling out all sorts of laws, bylaws, sections, rules, and acts of UN, Geneva Convention, and Indian constitution in conversations. Nehru and plebiscite are quoted too! But when it comes to the other side, everything is shoved under the umbrella of ‘sarhad paar training ke liye bhejo’. When one focuses on such ‘specifics’, and then one shows only one side of any conflict, there is a problem. You cannot then suddenly change gears to philosophical understandings of the stateless human as a victim of war. Since the ‘human’ is the same across both sides, how do the ‘specifics’ of one side matter more? This is where Mani Ratnam succeeded in DIL SE. The politics always takes a back-seat, is almost vague. What is underlined is the toll on people, on the resultant emotional upheaval.

I am not sure how this film is going to fare with the public. This is a heavy film and it almost demands you to see and feel more than the sum total of what is shown. However, that this will go on to be a collector’s pride is hardly a doubt.

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126 Responses to “An Jo on Haider”

  1. Idea:

    “God knows how she does it but she conveys those myriad moods right into your heart. That face and body-language cover seduction, loneliness, confusion, angst, guilt with such aplomb that one is left stunned. ” my fav. actress is Tabu and u brought a lot of joy to me by writing this AJ 🙂

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  2. “the one part that rattled me is VB’s using J&K’s insurgency problem vis- a-vis the Indian Army as the back-ground”
    Rattled me too. A.C. said in her review that VB hardly touched upon Pandit issue. Her review is not as generous as yours. You didn’t mention the writer….Mr Peer…from kashmir…who wrote the screenplay. He had been to Aligard…semi-autobiographical undertones. Haven’t watched the movie… But would like to….now

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  3. Really well written. Sounds like a film worth watching.

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  4. Only skimmed through, as I haven’t seen the film yet. Very well-written. Will read it fully after I have seen it. And Di Says: Why does VB have to talk about Kashmiri Pandits? He si nota politucuan who has to do the balancing act. This is Haider and Ghazala’s story, and I don’t get a sense that it needs the Kasmiri pandits. I haven’t seen it so I don’t know. Does it?

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    • If you are showing political backdrop and violence against muslims in the valley (army shooting at them etc), then yes, it behooves the script writer to show the whole picture (the Kashmiri pandit issue is briefly touched upon in the movie but in passing). Anyhow, Anupama Chopra’s review of Haider has the same grouse. So I am not alone 😦

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        You are not alone Di, I Will not be watching this one either just as I did not watch Shahid.
        I really liked VB but just came to know that he was also one of the signatory to the sickular apppeal by teesta and co.so it figures.
        Note well i am for boycott not ban!!!!

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        • arty-farty…hrithik-shitik..theek-hai…the movie I really-REALLY want to see is Vikram-Shakar’s….now that some watch!

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  5. Great review here and while I caqn grant that it may be a fine film at disappointed by the easy way out taken by VB.
    A skeptical view would be that he is pandering to a potential audience. A more charitable but equally annoying view point would be that it is misguided liberalism.
    In any case, it would make my blood boil. So, am avoiding the film and am on board with any boycott strategy.

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  6. Was rooting for this film.Now, I hope BB massacres it. Though unlikely to happen.
    I am sure the defense of the movie here will come from expected quarters.

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    • Just like the “attack” comes from expected quarters

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      • hahaha, excellent response.

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      • “Just like the “attack” comes from expected quarters”
        One man’s attack is another’s freedom of expression. Just as VB has freedom to make movies or author to write, we the readers/viewers have a choice too. It is not that Rajen is critic in some magazine or reviewer and “attacking” it (would be legitimate if he did so) but just saying…
        ====
        NaMo is building schools over there. If it was me, I would nuke it, remove all those terrorists and put nice people there, who were interested in DeshPrem and not deshdrohis.

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    • There is a grocery bagger where I shop. He states that he is from Kashmir (oh…not from India, mind you). Everyone including his employer says “he is from kashmir” as though Kashmir was country independant of India. Then he has the balls to tell me that he is “freedom” fighter. I am just upset at what they did to hindus; made them refugees in their own country!! To me he is as good as terrorist not a “freedom” fighter for scaring and shooing the poor minority in their own land! After the flood, I asked him, so now your opinion has changed? He goes “no”. So haters will always be haters. Once they are independant, they will depend on money from Indians for tourism!!! Jis thali mai kana waha ched lagana.

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  7. You can disagree with a film’s politics but to boycott what appears to be an ‘authentic’ piece of cinema is a severe overreaction.

    Here is an article written by a Kashmiri on Haider….it might be biased too, but I still give this more importance than all the folks, who have never stepped a foot in Kashmir, speaking as if they knew everything that happened down there.

    http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/a-kashmiri-speaks-haider-is-an-important-political-movie-that-every-indian-must-see-1741527.html

    If tomorrow someone were to make a heavily biased version of how Kashmiri Pandits were treated, the same people who are boycotting Haider will not raise a finger, and that is fine by me too because everyone has their allegiances. We don’t need to act all unbiased, high and mighty.

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    • Just look at this review.

      The guy talks about “snow caps” of Srinagar, completely clueless that Srinagar is a valley. There are no mountains in Srinagar. Yes there is snow, but no snow caps. Kashmir has snow caps not Srinagar.

      Likewise the reviewer is completely clueless of the accent that Kashmiris speak in . He does not get it that Shraddha was trying to be authentic.

      After demonstrating his lack of knowledge of Kashmir, and it’s people, he still thinks he can speak on its complex issues. So what does he contribute ? Definitely not knowledge

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      • But one can see snow capped mountains all around in Srinagar. In fact that’s the only way to see ‘snow caps’ – from far.
        Thispicture might give you an idea.

        http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g297623-d1600199-i97352631-Fantasia_Houseboats-Srinagar_Kashmir_Jammu_and_Kashmir.html

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        • And only older, rural and lesser-educated Kashmiris speak with an accent. An English language news-reporter saying “sakool” is not credible. Heck, even my 75 year-old, non-Matric pass Maasi doesn’t speak like that.

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          • “As a Kashmiri, I have no intention of seeing “Haider”, who are you to tell me that I’m ‘overreacting” by making this choice?!”
            sorry joined this ‘debate’ late and will be reading these reviews only after watchging haidar (after watching bang bang!)
            but
            shalini makes a v imp point.
            i have YET to see either a movement or party or movie scting on behalf of the displaced from kashmir (on basis of religion)

            shalini is right that she has the right to boycott

            also somebody said that the army has been depicted in negative light…
            i hate the buggers sitting in civilian comfort criticising the armys ‘excesses’

            infact im in favor of complusory army training for atleast 1-2 years for everyone like in some parts of europe.

            as for this ‘film’ haidar–
            this is high quality stuff
            BUT
            this entire exercise has been HIJACKED by the master (or mistress?) of perfomring arts

            ive seen a few seconds but tabu “moved’ me……(as per my rant earlier)

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          • My Kashmiri cousins who speak kashmiri do have an accent when they speak not only English but also hindi. They are all educated.

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          • And they still live in Kashmir, Srinagar.

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          • Oldgold

            A lady in Alaska can see Russia from her backyard. But that does not make Russia in USA.

            Also every region has an accent. The Scotts have accent, The Texans have an accent and Shraddha portrayed a Kashmiri accent

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          • thanx folks for this brilliant ‘debate’

            btw isnt it v unusual that I’m much more attracted to tabu than shraddha? (& i have never bothered for tabu in her heyday)
            infact i havent yet even noticed shraddha who actually is also doing her best ‘acting’ role as per d promo
            need2getrid of tabu
            need katrina 4 that 🙂
            ps; btw not sure if thats a ‘fluke’ or coincindence but satyam has chosen the best ‘explanatory’ pic for this film in this thread

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          • But those mountains are not that far from Srinagar, and the snow capped mountains do form the background scenery OF Srinagar and is called as such when describing it.

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          • A friend of mine moved into a new high rise building in the Paulus Hook section of Jersey City. This area is next to Manhattan and was in decay for a long time, now it is hot & desired. She points to the Freedom Towers in the background, and says,”Look, almost as if I am in Manhattan “.

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    • Why exactly is it an overreaction for an individual viewer to boycott a movie – for any reason?

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      • How is it not, given the many merits of the movie?

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        • Um, because the “merits” of a movie are entirely subjective. Every person has a *right* to decide for themselves what they wish to see and spend money on.

          As a Kashmiri, I have no intention of seeing “Haider”, who are you to tell me that I’m ‘overreacting” by making this choice?!

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          • Yes obviously they are subjective, but still you don’t get a film as universally well reviewed as Haider on a regular basis. Must be something good in it…

            You are free to choose whatever you want to watch, I was only saying that one shouldn’t ‘boycott’ a film based purely on its politics, because you might even end up having a different opinion after watching it.

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        • Problems dont go away by ignoring them. One has to face them to tackle them.

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  8. But why are Pakistanis against this film.
    It dilutes the points raised for boycotting/banning as it seems to be balanced out.

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    • It’s a well written review and I’ll definitely buy it’s DVD as It’s not showing here.

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    • Oldgold

      Pakistan is an extremist country. There reaction is irrelevent. Banning and Boycotting freedom in democratic country because it does not meeting your political requirement cannot be acceptable.

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      • Of course personal boycott is perfectly in keepng with democracy, banning not.
        What I meant was if the extremists of the two opposite sides are complaning the point must have been neutralised.

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  9. Problem is one cant please everyone especially with these types of movies. Just imagine if someone not as famous as VB made this film!
    Madras Cafe was not shown in TN due to its political content.

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  10. Utkal Ji said it best. This is Haider and Ghazala’s story. Hence the focus is on them. This is not a slice of history.

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  11. “Just got back from ‪#‎Haider‬ again. Felt like a fever dream. Abhi review likhta toh paanch mein se chhe dene padte. Genius.” Raja Sen

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  12. Saw it as well. The movie is a piece of art, no doubt. The real gritty Kashmir instead of something romanticized. VB could’ve balanced it a bit more by actually showing the violence perpetrated by the Pakistanis. Every reference to them is through dialog, but every reference to Indian atrocity is through actual action. This is how the balance is not convincing. Also, the Kashmiri Pandit issue is hardly mentioned in one dialog, it couldve been actually depicted, he couldve accommodated it in the screenplay. While there is merit to folks who think it paints the Indian Army with a black brush, there still isnt enough to ban or boycott. In fact, someone needed to engage the estranged Kashmiris with a reasonable depiction, rather than a total jingoistic approach as in those Sunny Deol early-2000 movies. And the second half contains nothing about the conflict, it entirely concentrates on Haider and his emotions.

    And btw, I was a kid when I when to Srinagar, but I distinctly remember snow-capped mountains and having exclaimed upon seeing them for the first time in my life.

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    • NYKavi

      We know you saw Haider 🙂

      Your childhood memories cannot override facts. Srinagar is a valley, yes it is surrounded by mountains (that is why it is a Valley). Like most similar valleys, it is defined by lakes. Srinagar has Dal Lake and Nageen Lake.

      In order to discuss the politics of Kashmir at least first get the place and people right.

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  13. Well, this entire thread of comments proves all I was trying to say. I guess some people just like arson – here or elsewhere.

    I am not talking of side A or side B here. My complaint was with the ‘procedural’ being tried to dove-tail into a Shakespearean adaptation. It is a jarring marriage. Shakespeare is mainly about broad strokes of the human complexities spiced with almost unbelievable happenstances. I am completely fine with Macbeth being grafted onto the Kashmir issue. The gloominess pervading against a land called the Paradise on Earth is an ideal background. But VB could have stayed away from the ‘specifics.’ And I am also fine with the politics of VB. That is his – or rather Bashrat Peer’s politics. I did read an interview of Bashrat Peer where he said he was brought in mainly to inject ‘realism’ into the proceedings. I am not quite confident that ‘realism’ and Shakespeare make a very good couple. His audience was not really the eclectic ones.

    I believe this was not the right vehicle to stamp VB’s or peer’s ideology or politics. All they had to do was attempt realism in a realistic genre & push their opinions or experiences in another movie! Not here. Films like Parzania and Firaaq made no bones about what they intended to say and which side they were on. Which is fine. And as though one developed a sense of ‘guilt’, a line is inserted in the end that the Indian army helped during Kashmir floods! How is that important anyway? Why this relativism here? This is a complete cop-out and a sham. This is the exact equivalent & tokenism of that lady character in Gentleman’s Agreement that when confronted, resorts to, ‘But I have so many Jewish friends! How can I be a racist’?

    The ‘grittiness’ focusing on only one side represented a jarring note in an otherwise brilliant adaptation. This ‘distracts’ the audience by forcing them to refract their their political thoughts from the proceedings.

    As I said, when VB focuses on the 3 principal characters, one is hooked. Otherwise, even Saltz’s review [Though the political backdrop often overwhelms or distorts the family drama] talks of this.

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    • I have heard about the devil quoting the Bible to suit his purpose, but here it appears that the devil is misquoting the Bible.

      Let us refresh our memory by looking once again at the relevant section from Rachel’s review :

      To say that “Haider” succeeds better as a tale of Kashmiri unrest and official brutality — people disappear, are tortured, shot for sport — than it does as a telling of “Hamlet” isn’t entirely a knock. “All of Kashmir is a prison,” Haider says, and Mr. Bhardwaj and Mr. Peer show the toll on the inmates. In one chilling scene a man, his face covered in a balaclava, plays judge and jury from a Jeep, as civilians are paraded in front of him. With just a movement of his eyes he decides their fate: dismissed or detained.

      Though the political backdrop often overwhelms or distorts the family drama, Mr. Bhardwaj provides the occasional sharp reminder of how cinematically he can construct Shakespearean moments.

      Rachel, contrary to your claim, likes the Kashmiri unrest angle.

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  14. “Shakespeare is mainly about broad strokes of the human complexitie…” Really? “…spiced with almost unbelievable happenstances.” So, today when you have to adapt him, you too have to have ‘ unbelievable happenstances’? Is that where the soul of Shakespeare resides?

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    • No, that’s not the ONLY place where his soul resides. I am saying that is a kind of unifying thread running across his tragedies. To squeeze it into a type of procedural, IMHO, is not a good thing. His adaptations work best when they they too represent the ‘sweeping’ scope that is possible in the format one is adapting it to.

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  15. Haider is an adaptation of a work by Shakespeare. But it does not have to be Shakespeare.

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  16. **So here it is, for the communal arsonists that insert RELIGION into a debate about 6 packs and vanity of a star – Baradwaj Rangan seems to agree a bit with me; or maybe, he is a ‘prejudiced’ rattled guy..

    And oh, since the arsonits are ready to accuse me of plagiarism, one can check the time-stamps; BR wrote his piece after mine – not that I am comparing myself to him – far from it; it will take more than a life-time to have an insight like this man..but you can see for yourself..

    Check out, specifically, what BR says about that gut-wrenching scene where the man refuses to enter his house unless he is searched..

    Below is Baradwaj’s review as compared to the communal guy’s

    ————————————————————————————-

    This level of detail – orientation, really – is important in a book. Indeed, Basharat Peer, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bhardwaj, is the author of one such book, Curfewed Night. But in a film, these specifics, unless dramatised sharply, come off like footnotes. (And we know when the dramatisation is sharp – as in the superb scene where a civilian refuses to enter his home unless he is frisked. This single moment shows us what an entire populace has been reduced to.) Mani Ratnam gets a lot of flak for “simplifying” the politics in his films, but he does so in order to concentrate on the human drama, which is always at the forefront. And if you’re making your film the “Indian way,” smoothing down thorny issues with a pat message at the end (as opposed to art-house foreign cinema, where you needn’t consider the audience at all), that’s probably the best approach.

    With all this attempt at being realistic, the melodramatic/fantastical elements of Hamlet – the real meat, if you will – come off looking forced, as if they were shoehorned in simply because there needed to be parallels to the play. Roohdar should have been a chilling spectral presence; instead, he’s the abstracted spirit of Kashmir. (“Main tha, main hoon, aur main hi rahoonga.”) The “Alas, poor Yorick!” moment makes little sense because we have here not an existential Hamlet, scratching his chin over ontological puzzles, but a political Haider, who’s being inflamed by militants. Liaquat/Laertes (an excellent Aamir Basheer, who might have made a better Haider, good though Shahid Kapoor is) is defanged – he’s no longer the righteously angered nemesis, merely a symbol of the educated Kashmiri youth who were fortunate enough to escape and find well-paying jobs in MNCs outside the state.

    http://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/haider-very-well-made-if-a-tad-too-footnote-heavy-but-why-hamlet/#comment-43950

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    • Bandra.NRI Says:

      Seems like BR has problem with VB’s narrative choices. Bhardwaj should make his own movie on Kashmir/Hamlet.

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    • An Jo

      How does BR’s review make your lack of knowledge of Kashmir or its people a qualification to discuss Kashmir’s complex politics ?

      How does BR’s review take away from your misrepresentation of Rachel’s view.

      It seems you will keep throwing things at us till your prejudices are accepted. Sorry BR review just says that BR should make his own movie. It does not take away from the beauty of Ghazala and Haider’s story.

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  17. The story is told from the viewpoint of Haider and Haider was more engrossed with his parents, uncle than with pandits fate. If Pandits were sympathetic towards Indian army, it would have made them look like betrayers in the eyes of the separatists.
    If we take Telengana, Karnataka or Maharashtra, or even some northeastern states we can see this trend more clearly.
    If someone like an andhra man residing in Hyderabad which also rightfully belongs to him as an Indian, not supports Telengana, he will be treated as traitor by TRS. So patriotism and so called freedom fights are relative terms Nothing is absolute.

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  18. “So patriotism and so called freedom fights are relative terms Nothing is absolute. ” Absolutely. What about those who voted Yes in the Scotland referendum for example?

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  19. The tale of two tunes & two releases

    Very rarely it happens but I’m TRULY CONFLICTED about bang bang and Haidar and want both to do well

    Music knows no boundaries imo
    Have an ear for good music and it just sticks to me
    Ever since I heard this Haidar half tune, it’s ‘troubling’ me….now I know I had heard it b4 somewhere as well from an obscure film I don’t know nothin bout

    Gulon mein rang bhare –version 1–


    chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale

    Gulon mein rang bhare –version 2

    Bada hai dard ka rishta
    Yeh dil ghareeb sahi
    Tumhaare naam pe aayenge
    Gham gusaar chale

    Btw Tabu HIJACKS the whole premise, track and subject hook line and sinker.

    I OPENLY ACCEPT MY MISTAKE earlier in underrating tabu
    (or perhaps tabu has literally RAISED HER GAME HERE a lot)– the LATTER scenario is more likely since I don’t miss this stuff

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  20. I don’t know if I understood it correctly but some people seems to object to VB showing his political leanings in Haider.
    I don’t know what they are, and haen’t eve seen the film, but it brought to mind that people do that all the time and personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

    Mehboob Khan never failed to project his communist leanings.
    Amusingly his film always had a song in the field with farmers singing and they’d raise their sickle in a pose from time to time.

    So I don’t understand the criticism here at all.
    People have become extremely intolerant.

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    • Throughout the world, there is a segment that is becoming more and more open minded and THEN there are sick guys digging more and more into their prejudices.

      Hopefully the open minded, and tolerant people, the people who want goodness equally for all inherit this world.

      But for now the nasty and ignorant militants seem to have the upper hand. They display their ignorance and regurgitate filth but still want their views to be respected.

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  21. This from a Kashmiri
    A must read for arm chair critics and misguided http://dimplekaul.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/haider-the-one-true-chutzpah/

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  22. Basharat Peer is a separatist and this was to be expected.

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    • You mean the 45% of Scots are to be labelled anti nationalists/traitors or something like that now?

      Maybe you should read this.
      http://scroll.in/article/682070/Why-exactly-is-'Haider'-offending-India's-Twitter-nationalists

      I’d like to clarify I’m neutral in this matter.

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      • A stupid comparison. Not unexpectedly so, might I add.
        Scotland has never had much of an armed separatist movement or need army deployment to control separatists nor have they uprooted Englishmen or ever had any special treatment. Chalk and cheese.

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        • Having said that, Ibhave always supported and still support the idea of a referendum in Kashmir.
          If they don’t want to be a part of India, I don’t want them to be in India too.

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        • >Scotland has never had much of an armed separatist movement or need army deployment to control separatists nor have they uprooted Englishmen or ever had any special treatment.

          Yes, it was all very civilised. But resentment was always there. It wasn’t as if one fine morning they decided they’d like to be a separate nation. Separatists didn’t need to get armed so no army deployment, no uprooting.

          I think the govt to be blamed for special treatment. This special treatment only proves tht govt itself is not sure about Kashmir’s identity.

          Indian ego will never allow for a referendum.

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          • Scots did not use masjid loud speakers in co-ordination across the state one fine morning, to ask Englishmen to leave or be killed. And then proceed to kill/rape several for good measure. One cannot just ignore the blatant ethnic cleansing that was done. 300,000 people were made to disappear, permanently having to forgo their ancient ancestral properties. Will they ever be allowed to return and be given back those properties?
            It is a murky complicated issue with several vested interests. Some militants have in fact repented, and expressed remorse on the ethnic cleansing of the Pandits. But that is just not enough. A referendum cannot be held unless things are brought back to square one. Square one means making both India and Pak leave Kashmir, and return it to its pristine pre Aug 14, 1947 political condition. Is that even doable?

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          • @NyKavi
            Agree, the state of affairs now is ugly. It should have been done long ago when sense still prevailed.

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          • NyKavi

            Did the Kashmiris turn against each other for the sake of religion ? Or was this division based on other factors ?

            Let’s agree that there can be no justification fir any ethnic cleaning. There is no justification for killing or even oppression and suppression.Hatred for any reason cannot be tolerated. There is no justifiable hate or intolerance. But please look into details and then assign the blame for the mess I Kashmir to the politics not religion. Like always religion in Kashmir has been used and abused to settle political scores.

            Kashmir has always had a sad & painful history. It was once part of the mighty Sikh empire that spread from Afganistan to Kashmir. The British capitalized on the passing away of a Sikh ruler and broke the kingdom into pieces. Today of all the groups in Kashmir, the poor Sikhs have lost the most power and prestige.

            The majority of Moslems of Kashmir were once Hindus. These Moslems did not come from elsewhere but enmass converted to escape Brahim atrocity/dominance. Myths and legends in Kashmir talk about a lot of suffering at Brahmin hands that made the lesser Hindus convert to Islam. Just remember that they were running away from Brahmins, not running towards Islam. The Kashmiri Moslems as a consequence of their genesis were always mild and tolerant.

            But as you can see that the history there has always bloody. The partition and the filthy politics thereafter created the divisions amongst people in Kashmir. Suddenly a mild mannered population turned into nationalistic animals. All the powers to be played an active role in festering distrust and hate. Everyone made hay while the sun shined. There is enough blame to go all around. Sadly a lot of people suffered, not because of religion but because of politics.

            Hence I like the message that freedom requires freeing oneself from the cycle of revenge. For me the best amongst us is the one who says, “I am willing to forgive and forget”.

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          • “Indian ego will never allow for a referendum.”
            Why is it an ego issue.

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        • >Why is it an ego issue.
          Everything in India runs on well oiled ego wheels.
          I could write a book on it.
          The present govt is the worst. Jaitley, Smriti lose elections and are made cabinet ministers no less.
          Hum kisi se kum nahin is the motto.
          It’s sickening.

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  23. It is not easy to hold a referendum and lose Kashmir. Kashmir also includes Jammu and Ladakh where separatists have little control.
    Kashmiri politicians used special Status to create problems for Indian State. They encouraged stone pelting. Every death is used to create animosity towards India. Pakistan is fuelling the fire and religion is playing a political part. If separatists want to separate from India, why they are not ready to give Jammu and Ladakh to decide their fate to stay within India? They are ready to mutilate India but not ready to mutilate their own state. Double standards. I have zero sympathy for stone pelters.

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    • Tomorrow every state will ask for referendum by vested interests controlled politicians who thrive on creating barriers in the name of language, regional pride, sons of the soil theories etc.

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      • >vested interests controlled politicians who thrive on creating barriers in the name of language, regional pride, sons of the soil theories etc.

        But that’s how things already are?

        Every time one gives an example of how things could be copied or at least referred to from some other country which is running well, the answer is – oh it is a small country compared to India that’s why it can apply there but not in India.

        So what’s wrong in every state functioning as a unit? After all they were ruled by kings and queens before the Moghuls/muslim rulers conquered large areas and sort of united these kingdoms, a task completed by the British.

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  24. REVIEW OF ‘HAIDER’

    Life, invariably, brings you at crossroads when you have to make choices. Pick one and leave another. In every choice conflict is implicit. At the root of these conflicts is the complex interplay of divided loyalties. Our loyalties is made of up of our ‘likes’ and our ‘values’. And in every choice there will be a tacit assault on either our cherished ‘likes’ or our esteemed ‘values’. More often than not, guilt and regret does ensue, in every act of omission and commission. Damned if you do damned if you don’t. Every sensitive human mind gets invariably plagued from regret, guilt or conflicts. And this human predicament is brought out, with exceptional finesse, in works of one playwright, the hallowed, you know whom. In Hamlet, he weaves a tale in which human conflict of divided loyalties, comes to fore, in its ugliest and barest form.

    Haider, is a celebration of Bhardwaj ‘s extraordinary ability to deliver contemporary and geographically relevant adaptation, of this enticing tale.

    Conflict in Haider is looming large in loci, macro and microcosm; in both movie’s locale (Kashmir) and its various characters (Haider et al). Is the loyalty towards a geographical precinct more important that its denizens? Is concept of India more important than Indians being denied a chance, to exercise self determination, at the cost of nationhood? How does one respond, when one discovers adultery of his most dear and respected kin (mother)? And the next-of-kin (uncle or girlfriend’s father) is a traitor? What would, thereof, be his relationship with them? How does a woman deal with a soft corner for someone other than her spouse? Oedipal complexities? Are these feelings natural or a transgression? The movie’s climax is heart wrenching when the protagonist has two choose between ‘not-so-ideal’ advice from an ‘ideal’ person to its reverse permutation. It is these kinds of undercurrent that fraught the movie, making it for a compelling tale.

    The play’s plot is Haider’s forte however Bhardwaj’s treatment is what makes the drama a compelling sight. He is bang on, while choosing Kashmir, to set his plot. You are transported to this corner on earth from scene one. You are made to wonder how an alluring landscape with its serene lake and placid rivers is in a state of turbulence and turmoil? How spotless expanse of milky white snow has been soiled by blotches of red gore? How the lofty mountains are witness to such lowly cruel crimes? These vivid contrasts of this fractured land are so well captured by its cinematographer that makes watching the film an absolute visual delight.

    Fate of its protagonists is no different; from a gentle poetry student to raging militant. From a love struck fiancée to an emotional wreck. From a loving mother to a sly bedswerver. The movie remains brutal and does not empathise with its characters. However, as audience you do, as you understand them.

    Bhardwaj is prolific creative artist and not just an filmmaker. This gets evident in this film, too. Music is his strength so is use of poetry. I was delighted to have more of Faiz Ahmed Faiz than Gulzar. Irfan, Menon and Tabu remain understated and that was their strength. Shahid, in all fairness, was pleasant surprise, possibly, because I had my apprehensions about his abilities. Shraddha, too, was not disappointing, rather, she looked refreshing as young Kashmiri. Light moments from Salman and Salman and well choreographed dance in the song “Ek Aur Bismil” were respite in what is predominantly a heavy / dark film.

    The movie remains poetically incorrect and I admire that. Bhardwaj has the gall (read:chutzpah) to call spade a spade. Something our jingoistic Bollywood should learn by shedding its chauvinism. But there seems to be sympathetic tilt towards separist view and lopsided censure for Indian Army. Ruthlessness of Kasmiri militants should have had its share while portraying Kashmir’s complex reality. Though, I like the film’s grand canvas but the movie could have done away with some of the good old Bollywood clichés. The climax need not have been so, over the top, with stereotype unrealistic fight sequences. Or Haider’s melodramatic eccentricities. Or non coherent storyline and unnecessary subplots But these are just few bad peanuts in bowl full of perfected roasted and adequately salted, sumptuous treat.

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  25. Coming back to the film Haider.
    This article declares that the film Haider actually explains why the Indian army had to do what it did.
    It also talks about the numerous cuts that the film underwent, leaving some things unexplained.

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/one-haider-is-not-enough-114100500087_1.html

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  26. Oldgold : “So what’s wrong in every state functioning as a unit? After all they were ruled by kings and queens before the Moghuls/muslim rulers conquered large areas and sort of united these kingdoms, a task completed by the British.” Bang on. I mean what should be the ultimate objective? That India remains united , but the people sufffer? Or Let India break up into a few states, but the people of those states are happy?

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  27. “Did the Kashmiris turn against each other for the sake of religion?”

    No, Kashmiris didn’t turn against each other for the sake of religion. *Muslims* in Kashmir turned against the Pandits and initiated a deliberate program of ethnically cleansing the valley of it’s orginial inhabitants – the Kashmiris. There is no dispute on this score – walk up to any Muslim in Kashmir and he/she will proudly tell you how they got rid of the “Batta.”

    “The majority of Moslems of Kashmir were once Hindus. These Moslems did not come from elsewhere but enmass converted to escape Brahim atrocity/dominance. Myths and legends in Kashmir talk about a lot of suffering at Brahmin hands that made the lesser Hindus convert to Islam. Just remember that they were running away from Brahmins, not running towards Islam. The Kashmiri Moslems as a consequence of their genesis were always mild and tolerant.”

    Balderdash! There are no myths/legends in Kashmir about “Brahmin abuse/dominance” because there was, nor is a traditional “caste system” in Kashmir. What there is, is a well documented history (facts, not myths and legends) by both the Hindu victims and the Islamic conquerors of Kashmir’s brutal descent Into Islam.

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    • It is fashionable to blame brahmins for everything.

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    • For those who peddle lies and drivel under garb of secularism. One commentator here onlt peddles lies

      For uninitiated

      Records Baharistan-i-Shahi:

      “ Immediately after his (Sufi Mir Mohammad’s) arrival, Sultan Sikandar, peace be on him, submitted to his supremacy and proved his loyalty to him by translating his words into deeds. He eradicated aberrant practices and infidelity. He also put an end to the various forbidden and unlawful practices throughout his kingdom. Thus during the entire period of his rule, all traces of wines and intoxicants and instruments of vice and corruption, like the cord of canticle, lyre and tamborin were wiped out. The clamour of the drum and the trumpet, the shrill notes of the fife and the clarion no longer reached people’s ears, except in battles and assaults. ”
      “Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam and were massacred in case they refused to be converted’,” writes Hasan, a Muslim chronicler. He further observes, “And Sikandarpora (a city laid out by Sultan Sikandar) was laid out on the debris of the destroyed temples of the Hindus. In the neighbourhood of the royal palaces in Sikandarpora, the Sultan destroyed the temples of Maha-Shri built by Praversena and another by Tarapida. The material from these was used for constructing a ‘Jami’ mosque in the middle of the city.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikandar_Butshikan

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    • What the brahmins did/didn’t do 200 yrs ago should be of no significance to a land which became part of India in 1947.
      Back in 1989, when Pak was flush with US$s, and their per capita income was better than India, an avg Kashmiri might have felt that Pak is a better place. Strangely, the rebellion took off at almost the same time that the Indian economy got unshackled and the rest of India’s fortunes took off. I wonder if the avg Kashmiri feels the same today, when they see India sending crafts to Mars, their cities booming, their land values going up 1000% in the past decade+. Whereas Pakistan being beset with a blast-a-day, is the exact opposite of the ‘better’ abode they might have sought. The choice ought to be very simple really.

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    • “Balderdash” ??? a word very rarely used by ladies. But of course you can use any word you want. I am just struck by words or expressions that stand out. In another thread another fine lady used words for female body parts that generally I have rarely seen women use in public. Again everyone is free to use any word or expression they want. Needless to say such words stand out.

      Anyways, I have yet to see imperial data to back your claims about “Kashmiri” sentiments. Short of any data, I don’t think I can accept that claim.

      There are people who like to view ALL KASHMIRIS based on the views expressed by a (real or imaginary) help at a super market.

      But taking the view of one person (or statistically trivial population) and making it appear as if it represents the view of a large group of people is the very definition of bigotry.

      Now this is not peculiar just to this blog. It is a common human error. People generally take an unscholarly statement and run with it. Just recently a “liberal” went on CNN to debate this issue. I personally think he makes this point far better than me.

      My only request is that start thinking how we can defuse the madness around us rather than add fuel to raging fire of hate and bigotry.

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      • The problem is every example you provide is this sort of video. You can’t only have an issue with bigotry or what have you when it’s a Muslim at the other end. Last time too you had a very similar video (incidentally I’d seen the Aslan one before as I have Ben Affleck’s recent one with Maher). I am deeply suspicious of such selective memory. Now this might seem unfair except that yo u lay yourself open to such a charge by coming up with very limited examples. You can’t battle similar ‘selectiveness’ on the other side (whatever this other side is) by responding in the same way. Much as one can’t only be for such nice-sounding-value in this context and not others. Of course you might argue that you feel the same way in all cases but I have my doubts when other examples are never forthcoming. Beyond this I will also repeat what I’ve said not so long ago at length. You can’t preach open-mindedness when it comes to these very sensitive political issues and then have the most closed mind imaginable when it comes to SRK (don’t bother debating on this point) and other issues related to Hindi cinema. Although that might not seem linked to this the fact is that people who are incredibly dogmatic on filmstars are not so likely to be the most open-minded people when it comes to politics. Now I might otherwise agree with some of the things you state but as always for me the ‘site of enunciation’ (to use a theoretical register) is as important as what is being enunciated. Because truth isn’t only about the latter but also about the former. What’s a good example here? Certain Muslim figures (since this is your privileged example) who popped up after 9/11 insisting on the need for dialogue and openness and so on. Now I did agree with the ‘message’ in that case but I had serious doubts about the sincerity of those messengers. Why? because in the rest of their beliefs, political or otherwise, they were hardly open to such debate!

        Now because I don’t feel the need for an alibi called ‘balance’ I will not play that game here and offer examples on the other side (whatever this other side might be).

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  28. Some of my comments from elsewhere:

    Haider is a decent movie probably above average if you consider Bollywood’s standards. I will say it has sloppy screenplay and it could have been faster. It does have some good visuals and story picks up later. But SHAME on you Mr. Bhardwaj, there are multiple villains in Kashmir (including local Indian politicians, Pakistan, Separatist leaders, Militants) but you chose to show Army as Villain for Kashmir issue in one sided view and you have the “chutzpah” to show in end credits that Army did a good job in recent floods. It is like slapping someone and saying sorry which you don’t mean it.

    I do have a soft spot for army/Navy/AF as I have grown up in that environment. The issue in movie is that movie could have represented the same without showing the Army in bad light. ** Spoilers** There are multiple instances where the movie represented the separatist agenda – It talks about disappearance of people but it blames only army. It doesn’t say that there are people who cross border and killed in different ways. It talks about AFSPA but it doesn’t talk about how they arrived at the situation. If you suggest that it just wanted to present a point of view then why army is used as straw man ? If you wanted to army in bad light and have a point of view then why salute them at end for their work in recent floods?

    **Spoilers**
    on Army portrayal:
    It was anti-army. Why do you want the soldier to throw the pictures of Shahid father, or why do the raid at Shahid’s father house needed to show army officer blurting out I don’t care for militants life and I care for only soldiers life and blows the house. It could have been done in first place without losing the soldiers lives? There were more instance which shows army as main villain for issue.
    *end spoilers

    on AFSPA:

    Army by it owns cannot arrest people. So you need to give powers to army to do police’s job. The army portrayal was exactly Pakistan or separatist people view. If you remove army, the situation would be much worse. I am not suggesting there are not atrocities by army/BSF but statistically it is insignificant if you count half million soldiers or Kashmir population. Moreover the conditions are harsh in valley. The soldiers have human rights like other people. I think the army does a very nice job if you think your companion getting killed or decapitated in attacks on regular basis. I am not suggesting to overlook illegal things but to suggest one point of view based agenda is simply wrong and when a serious film maker does it is much worse. I don’t mind if the same is shown by Sajid Khan in Houseful setup because nothing is serious!

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    • thanks for your comment Munna.. skimmed through the spoilers as I haven’t seen the film but read the rest.. good to get your take..

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    • and your first paragraph is a worthy example of how one can maintain some objectivity about a narrative despite having serious problems with the film’s politics..

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      • I must say acting is also good. I think the movie needed only Bismil song. Sometimes directors don’t understand that adding songs takes away the tension.

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      • But I am not sure he is maintaining some objectivity when he says that it is merely a “decent movie, probably above average if you consider Bollywood’s standards”. Talk about underselling this film! No one has to call it excellent, but to call it above average is really undermining the merits of the film. Incidentally I preferred it over all the recent Western Shakespeare adaptations (including the Branagh ones) I have seen with the exception of Coriolanus which I found terrific (but isn’t also an easier play to adapt when compared to Hamlet and the other major ones). The Western press would have given Haider a really warm reception had Bharadwaj taken it to film festivals, I think he missed the bus by not doing so.

        The Guardian has a short piece on the film (incidentally among the Indian reviewers only Rangan was smart enough to make The Last Action Hero connection)-

        “There’s surprising sense in staging the Mousetrap and gravedigger scenes as musical numbers, and something compelling in how this backdrop forces the characters to adopt explicitly political positions. (Even its Laertes equivalent obliges his now journalist sister to swear her chastity on the Koran.) It unravels like this Ophelia’s terribly literal scarf: the last-act deployment of rocket launchers reminded me of Arnie’s blunt-force Hamlet in Last Action Hero. Yet it makes the text feel newly alive, bristly, radical. A palpable hit, in any language.

        http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/02/haider-review-a-hit-in-any-language-vishal-bhardwaj

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        • my point was that even though he disliked the politics of the film so much he was nonetheless able to separate that which worked at a narrative level. In other words it’s only when you have a strong reaction at this level that you’re less likely to be willing to accept the other virtues of a film. Speaking for myself if I had similar issues with any film I am not likely to be very charitable to it on any other level. Not because I don’t ‘see’ those strengths but sometimes I am not willing to divorce the ‘political’ from the ‘aesthetic’ (even leaving aside the question of whether this can be done for a serious film). Now of course there are sometimes directors who make very fine films that have these problems but that’s rare.

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  29. Loved Haider. Extremely well made. Was reading Bharadwaj’s interview, some important points to be read.

    What was it about Kashmir that made you set your Hamlet there? It was the political turmoil and the 25 years of tragedy of Kashmir that compelled me. Our way of looking at Kashmir has either been cosmetic — only for shooting songs — or rhetoric, where we show a man in a phiran, holding a Kalashnikov. Haider is the first film where we see Kashmir from the inside. I don’t think we have made a mainstream film about the issue. If this was Europe, we would have made 200 films on Kashmir. Hollywood is still making films on the Nazi era. Every year, there is a film on World War I. Now, they are telling stories of Iraq, even television has Homeland. They have a take on “human conflicts” lekin hum log toh chori se baaz nahin aaye hain (but we have still not gotten over the theme of theft). Hum abhi bhi thieves ki filmein bana rahe hain (We are still making films about thieves).

    How do you view your growth as a filmmaker? I’ve learnt how to convey without words. Earlier, my films were too verbose. In Haider, I have used a lot of silence.

    http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/kashmir-is-the-hamlet-of-my-film/#sthash.dtBvn4PT.dpuf

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    • I think not many of aware of that movie’s cinematographer, Pankaj Kumar’s first film was ‘Ship of Thesus’ and Haider is his just 2nd film. Great going..and good future!

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  30. As I read in some review, this movie ought to be called – Ghazala. Tabu towers above everyone and her performance alone is worth the ticket!

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  31. No one prevents if anyone wants to make a movie on Kashmir from Pandit’s viewpoint and Indian Army viewpoint too. After Haider, it will be a good move if some good director takes up something like this and see how it will be received.

    How pandits and other groups were driven out. How it all started.
    How Indian Army is coping up with the thankless job in Kashmir. For them, it is like living with the enemy 24 hours. Many wives whose husbands are posted as jawans in that state are living a life of high uncertainty. There are hundreds like her. Wives, mothers, children.

    There is always 2 sides of which one side is making news.
    Kashmiri people are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Most of them are forced to side with the insurgents while the Indian army is doing its duty without going into these details. Politicians are using this as an opportunity to score points.

    Giving Kashmir to the Kashmiris(excluding Ladakh and Jammu) may make life somewaht bearable to the general kashmiri and the Indian army will be less burdened.

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  32. Paradise has turned into hell. The scenic beauty and the hard times. What a contrast! Even if Kashmir becomes independent, what is the guarantee that it wont turn into another Afghanistan, another Karachi? Where super powers may try to intervene for their own benefits?

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  33. “..what is the guarantee that it wont turn into another Afghanistan, another Karachi? Where super powers may try to intervene for their own benefits?” And whos says it cannot become another Switzerland, if all the neighbors cooperate. I see that as the only long-term solution.

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  34. haven’t seen the film so read only bits to avoid spoilers

    but couldn’t resist (& agree) with this–
    “Tabu deserves all the accolades she has been receiving for her performance, and then some: her wary eyes, with shadows under them, make the movie worthwhile on their own; and when we see her running after Haider after he sees her singing and laughing with her brother-in-law, her fully covered bosom disturbing the luxuriant kaftan she wears, we almost sympathize with Khurram: if ever a woman was worth betraying your brother for, surely this is the one. (Bhardwaj appreciates this fully: his Hamlet is post-Freudian, and the erotic charge when the boy Haider applies ittar on his mother’s neck, or when the adult Haider kisses it, is un-mistakable. ”
    bravo..

    some other standout comments–
    “But SHAME on you Mr. Bhardwaj, there are multiple villains in Kashmir (including local Indian politicians, Pakistan, Separatist leaders, Militants) but you chose to show Army as Villain for Kashmir issue in one sided view and you have the “chutzpah” to show in end credits that Army did a good job in recent floods. It is like slapping someone and saying sorry which you don’t mean it.” munna is in never before ‘belligerent’ mood….

    BUT THE HAUNTING AND SOMEWHAT DAMNING LINE COMES FROM SHALINI–which carries more weight age since shes the only one who seems to be talking from personal experience unlike all others who are going by hearsay, media coverage, myths and spins
    “There is no dispute on this score – walk up to any Muslim in Kashmir and he/she will proudly tell you how they got rid of the “Batta.”
    thanx for this info shalini…

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  35. actually munna and shalinis comments ‘moved’ me!
    art is all ok but i cant trascend the importance of human life and suffering ….
    My respect for VB has gone down

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  36. It is ‘ human life and suffering ….’ that is the concern of Vishal Bhardwaj, and not being on the right side of the political bosses, or public opinion. Bharadwaj is an artiste of courage and integrity, unlike so many mainstream filmmakers who play safe and cpsy up to the tyrannical political bosses and the tyranny of public opnin. Thi is clear in his latest Hindu interview, where he says, ” If I am not a leftist I am not an artist. The kind of inequality India has if that were to happen in a European country it would have faced six revolutions. For centuries we have played with the psyche of the masses. That your deeds in the last birth are responsible for your present miserable state of affairs. It is given a religious tinge so that he should not revolt. What if he said he wants the same bread that the rich are having?”

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    • Now he is trying to be a bit disingenuous here. Clearly, the India of today offers a vastly superior alternative to the Pakistan of today. Kashmir can be a Switzerland, only if they let the damn rich Indians come in and invest and make it a Switzerland!! What is so difficult to understand? Leftist my foot. Will Kashmiris live on Kashmiriyat or plain ole green $$s?? Who’s got more of em…?? India or Pakistan?
      Why VB chose this precise period to scratch out old wounds is a question only he can answer.

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  37. there are separatist movements in every nook and corner of the world, even in the “iron hand” conutries like china and russia.

    Human beings are naughty creatures and they wont be happy even with moon

    Giving in to each n every such ‘yearning” will lead to anarchy

    sometimes DISCIPLINE AND FORCED REGULATION IS NEEDED !!

    wss iraq better with saddam hussein or now?

    the selectivity on display here is APPALLING!!!!

    on one hand of discourse u have the milder elements u are even allowing a clearly ANTINATIONAL stance being exhibited in mainstream space, applauding its artistry and even wrting LENGTHY REVIEWS on its ART
    (clearly ignoring the stink in this PRETENCE)
    I hvent seen the film but am DISAPPOINTED BY ANNJO HERE–girl wheres your “inner voice” lol ?

    And on the other hand of the discourse, u have “MILITANTS” who dont even offer TOKEN SYMPATHIES (albeit fake) of the other side of the debate or suffering?

    ps_ @ utkal uncle–your suggestion of making kashmir “switzerland” is SO LAUGHABLE, IGNORANT, NAIVE that i wont even want to comment on that !!! it will become a dogs dinner and a second afghanistan –sometimes humans cant be trusted

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  38. NyKavi: “Why VB chose this precise period to scratch out old wounds is a question only he can answer.” He started thsi film about two years back . Which precise period would be the opportune moment to scratch this old wound as you call it? Which is the right moment to make a film on the holocaust? On the Iraq war? And the film is not about whether Kashmir should stay in India or be a part of Pakistan or be independent. It is about the sufferings of ordinary Kashmiris.

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    • Sufferings of ordinary people who choose to inflict said suffering upon themselves. With a seal-tight Article 370, that enables them to monopolize the most pristine land in India, all they have to do is invite in the moneybags to invest in said land, and watch its value multiply severalfold in the space of a few years. But instead of doing the smart and pragmatic thing (which btw is being done in a lil place called Dubai), these guys want to be stuck up and play victims of God knows what atrocity. I can never fathom what it was that made them revolt. Many of us had been there before 1989, and had felt that the place is Gods gift to its people, a tourist magnet, a heaven on earth. Now, dont just sit singing paeans to this heaven, make it work will you. Get in the investor moolah, build some swanky resorts, retreats, timeshares, golf courses, etc… No time left..get on..chop chop.

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      • Don’t you think that’s a very vulgar argument though? That’s like saying the British could still be welcomed in India as long as they could guarantee a certain GDP?! Now I’m not arguing the Kashmir issue one way or the other here (though my own opinion is that it ought to remain with India) but surely all nationalisms in the world would die an easy death if it were only about growth rates and what not?! Of course and not for the first time I should point out that the problem precisely is using this sort of economic language in a completely neutral sense when it is anything but. The Economist view of the world if you will. But politics is never reducible to this. Or better still those seemingly neutral economic arguments always come embedded with political decisions. The latter are often well-disguised. This is so in many other areas of life too. Modi has been running this clean-up campaign. He began in Valmiki Nagar. Now this area has a very interesting history in terms of how it was populated or how people were kept restricted to a certain profession and so on (Ravish Kumar on NDTV, simply the best news anchor I’ve seen anywhere, at least between the US and India, and this for a variety of reasons, did a fascinating episode on this). Who could be against keeping India clean, whether it’s the Mahatma who brings this up or Modi?! But there are always political slices of history behind how society or groups in society are socially or economically ‘arranged’.

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        • My argument is simply that the place was given to the people in a platter. Article 370 guarantees them ownership, autonomy within the Indian domain. I dont think the Brits gave us an Article 370, rather they made us slaves in our own lands. Here, the Indian govt clearly bent backwards, and were ready to pay the cost of appeasement. Maybe the Kashmiris could not sense the potential in the 80s, but clearly, the potential of being a part of a vibrant Indian economy is as clear as daylight in contemporary times. But instead of making something out of their God given good luck, they continue to drive it into the ground. So you have Yasin Malik ordering Indian aid workers to stop helping poor helpless Kashmiri women from being rescued. You have people throwing stones at choppers that are trying to land and rescue them.
          This was a tourist paradise, but some smart local needed to inform about the benefits of tourism to the militants who went around kidnapping and killing tourists, ie apne ghar aayi Lakshmi ko bhaga diya. Apne haath Allah ki mannat ko jala daala.
          Which begs me to ask: Azaadi from what? Their own stupidity?
          If it isn’t about economics, then what really is it about? Clinton ought to explain it to them.

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          • In other words (and leaving aside the debate on what the ‘people’ actually wanted in this case..) if Britain were to grant Indian a 370 and also make it about economic development India then shouldn’t be ‘stupid’ enough to complain? Let’s move to the Northeast for a bit, places where there has been unrest consistently since Independence (and before in fact.. why because you had a lot of tribal factors that were rebelling against the British, also rebelled against the Indian state, never quite agreed to the latter political arrangement as they felt they had been oppressed by Hindus (‘outsiders’ in their languages) before the Muslims or the British ever showed up and didn’t feel the need to agree to anything. Now the Indian nation-state (like every other nation-state) defines certain political actions as treason. But of course those tribes and people sympathetic to that politics in many cases didn’t agree with anything. They were beaten into submission. This isn’t like Uttar Pradesh suddenly deciding it wants to go elsewhere!

            And again you miss the basic point. When it becomes about identity politics people don’t care about economic conditions. And this is a principle that the victors of nation-state politics themselves practice! It’s not as if they believe something else. They have the most chauvinistic definitions of national identity. For instance the Hindutva brigade isn’t exactly looking at growth rates under the Mughals!

            Clinton himself isn’t ‘stupid’ enough to believe it’s only about the economy. I’m sure he wouldn’t support the idea of the US becoming a British colony all over again if somehow greater growth rates could be achieved this way! And even more seriously he practiced a certain kind of politics that he presented in such neutral-sounding garb. As did Republicans on the other side. And in my view the only people who continue to be ‘naive’ about the politics behind such neutral-sounding economics labels are those who are already the beneficiaries of this dispensation. So whatever the politics entailed if it works for you you’re happy! One doesn’t have to worry about the depredations of global capitalism if one can afford the multiplex ticket regularly! One can then construct this mental fantasy where no matter how impoverished people might become on the other side one can console oneself that they were even worse before. It’s easy to have a good conscience when one has that multiplex ticket! Of course even the impoverishment thing doesn’t mean much. A person might have been a poor farmer and then forced to become a poor factory worker. Poor in each case but the ‘terms’ of that poverty are vastly different (leaving aside the poor farmer who’s forced to relocated from Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan, and suddenly cannot grow a different kind of crop and is culturally isolated and so on.. so this farmer is displaced but someone sitting somewhere else becomes the beneficiary of this project.. then we have a neutral term like ‘good for the economic health of the country’!). It’s like saying that as long as one has a middle class life with certain basic needs one shouldn’t mind living in Tehran or Los Angeles! Or one shouldn’t mind rural Alabama or midtown Manhattan as long as those basic economic necessities are assured. And even this isn’t the best analogy because being ‘middle class’ automatically implies a great more political agency and hence power than the poor farmer has.

            Whether it’s this issue or the Kashmir one it’s not necessary to go to the other extreme. One can critique what is without it meaning that one is for Kashmiri separatism or for communism, as the case might be. If anything these sorts of extreme labels, put on the other side, are ways of avoiding the debate and one’s own responsibility if you will. In other words everytime someone critiques capitalism if the answer is ‘so do you want communism?’ it’s a way of shutting off the debate. The same thing happens in other contexts as well. If one believes in democracy one should be willing to ‘better’ it. Similarly if one believes in a nation-state one should again be willing to make it more expansive for all of its citizens. You cannot make the more liberal definitions of the state available to some cross-sections of the citizenry and then use the more limiting, virulently jingoistic ones for the rest. This of course is the history of every nation-state but that doesn’t mean one cannot critique the problem when and where it occurs.

            Finally on 370 it’s unfortunate that this was ever needed. But notice the paradox here. It is legally the only thing that binds Kashmir to the Indian nation-state. In other words without this Kashmir is not even part of India (though this might be news for many who talk about abrogating 370..). The question then becomes: why was such an extraordinary provision even needed if everyone one was for it (the Indian nation-state) to begin with? Now again I believe that Kashmir still probably has the best possible future it can have with the Indian Union. And for other reasons too I have never been supportive of any partitioning of India. At the same time I cannot insist that my definitions or notions in this sense be accepted by everyone in India. In the state of TN there has always been a strong emotional link with the Tamilians of SL (even with all the rivalry and big brother attitude in other ways). This has sometimes led to some very complicated political engagements including those that quite clearly subvert the authority of the nation-state. On the other hand this is the way they’ve always been (in modern history). Those have been their terms from the very beginning. The point I’m trying to make is that people enter a nation-state for different reasons. Not everyone is then equally invested in the larger nationalist fiction (which in any case doesn’t serve everyone equally.. whether legally or de facto..). Take the Sikhs. An attack on their religion (whether perceived correctly or not) clearly entailed taking a stand that placed religious identity over the nationalist kind. The nationalist fiction serves some groups more completely or there is a greater confluence of interests in these cases but this is not so in every instance.

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          • now before Rajen calls me idealistic I should add that to believe in a nation-state without these problems or continuing issues is in fact the greatest idealism. We see how these issues are not settled even in the most ‘peaceful’ Western democracies from Canada to Britain to Belgium to Spain and so on. The conclusion is inescapable without even getting philosophical about it. The nation-state excludes people by definition (irrespective of its legal or political fictions.. though even these are ‘biased’ in most cases..) who might then choose to (or not) do something about it.

            South India has always had a somewhat complicated relationship with the North India-slanted nationalist fictions of the Indian state. However this didn’t happen yesterday. It testifies to a deeper reality. That there have been such fault-lines even in a historic or more ‘ancient’ sense. Not exactly the same as the present but there has been some difference felt on this account in a historic sense. One could multiply some of these examples. The nation-state always operates with an anxiety. That there are those within its borders who don’t belong as much as some others. And when people do something about it the nation-state gets hysteric. Because it has to face up to its own founding fictions and there is nothing more unsettling in individual or national life than to be shown the mirror to one’s self-fashionings!

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          • I can understand your point about indentity politics and cultural independence. But then, what was the logic for them to ethnically cleanse 300k of their own people? The gripe then transcended identity and became religious. What would be the logic for them to ditch India and opt for Pakistan. What commonality did they have with Punjabis, Pashtuns and Sindhis? Only religion, which clearly in the contemporary context has not provided any fair succor to other global hotspots. Would they be ready to further divide themselves along Sunni-Shia-Sufi lines as has been done across the border? So, lets say that in the 80s, all this was not clear. But today, is it not crystal clear? Ask an avg Bangladeshi today, he will thank heavens for having split from Pak. Ask a mohajir and he will curse his luck for having left Bihar. So why is it that even now they continue to protest? Do they quixotically believe that they will get a real independence from both sides? Do they actually think that if India retreats, Pakistan will also leave them alone?
            I wonder, does PoK even have a 370 to protect their rights?

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          • PoK has no such right. In fact even suggesting this amounts to treason in Pakistan. On the rest I’m not here to debate Partition (not least because I am opposed to the idea to begin with). But before asking these ‘average’ folks elsewhere why don’t you ask some ‘average’ types in India?! Ask some folks in Mizoram. The idea that ‘you would be worse with Pakistan or China or even Independent.. as the case might be) is not exactly convincing. Because I suppose people (and peoples) have a right to their mistakes! So I think Partition was a horrible idea and every bit of history since convinces me of this. But if enough people believe this that is their right (of course Partition wasn’t even democratic even in this sense but that’s one example).

            On ethnic cleansing in J&K a great tragedy by any definition. However note the problem here. I’m not getting into all the political militants who contributed to this and so on for all kinds of cynical reasons. But the point is that once you introduce the Hindu-Muslim fault line then it keeps getting replicated in every realm of life. So the Pandit is not seen then as someone who’s shared the same history for centuries or whatever but simply that ‘other’ or a representative of that other who’s been oppressing you from elsewhere. This is how identities switch overnight. We know this happens all over the world. Overnight people start thinking differently about their neighbors and start slaughtering them. One must criticize this wherever this happens but to do this one must be on surer ‘moral’ ground. One cannot be selective about these things. But which is always the case in all of these debates. On certain issues people suddenly don’t ‘see’ the evidence or they get into older historic wrongs and what not, all ways of avoiding calling a thing by its proper name. In other cases the argument seems to be an open and shut thing.

            So no there’s no logic to ethnic cleansing beyond the most monstrous kind. But there is also no logic to demanding such explanations selectively. Not that this is new. From self-congratulatory Americans to self-righteous Hindus to convinced-of-their-purity Muslims etc.. there are such ways of thinking in every country and every community. Just the ‘selections’ and ‘greatest hits’ lists change!

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          • “But there is also no logic to demanding such explanations selectively. Not that this is new. From self-congratulatory Americans to self-righteous Hindus to convinced-of-their-purity Muslims etc.. there are such ways of thinking in every country and every community. Just the ‘selections’ and ‘greatest hits’ lists change!”
            You have always managed to call the bluff on these groups.
            We might disagree about several things, but I salute your steadfast adherence to humanity and liberal principles. You are a very rare person who can very clearly dissect and identify that clear moral line, be it on any side.
            Much as I try, I cannot become that complete liberal. The reason being that born liberals are very rare among Indians. I would think most of us are born conservatives and veer towards liberalism as we gain more knowledge. But the shards of conservatism that remains within always pulls us back. In that respect, you have managed to totally suppress whatever conservative leanings you might have had.
            Although I want to be a total social liberal, I defn will not ever become a fiscal liberal. On that our disagreements will always remain.

            “So I think Partition was a horrible idea and every bit of history since convinces me of this.”
            Totally agree, but we will be branded traitors on both sides now for even entertaining such a view.

            Now coming back to Kashmir: I just hope that given the last 25 yrs of sub-continental history, the Kashmiris get a ‘voila’ moment and somehow start reclaiming their lost decades by actively engaging and becoming a part of the greater Indian economic story. As I had commented above, one cannot just talk of becoming Switzerland without actually doing something about it. Since they do not make expensive heirloom watches, or provide clandestine banking or even make good ole swiss chocolate; at least have Indians running to them to escape from their own polluted cities.

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          • Also, a point: The colonies revolted because of feeling cheated due to paying higher taxes to England. Remember: No Taxation without Representation. So people were ready to revolt against those who shared their own ‘identity’, just because they felt cheated. The fact that Scots feel so marginalized that they need a referendum after 300 yrs speaks to this reality. Same with Quebec or the Catalans. Now these are highly developed societies, yet they feel that they are somehow left out. Identity/Religion is just an excuse inserted into the argument. Somehow, it always boils down to who shares how much money. The disputes always begin with sharing the spoils.

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      • NyKavi :

        Pakistan has changed the demography of POK soon after 1947. And we are reaping bitter fruits of moron Nehru by agreeing to put A 370 which even Ambedkar refused to draft and castigated Nehru for it.
        In Kashmir in last 10 years all traces of Pandits have been erased from renaming every Pandit religious/cultural things to secular (= Islam) names : Shankarcharya to Anantnag, stopping religious festival…

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        • Of course your command on history is about as sound as mine on prosthetic surgery but the irony here is that it is precisely the Hindutva dream to make a mirror image of Pakistan in India!

          On the rest I’m all for the campaign to bring back Victoria Terminus and Flora Fountain and Bombay!

          Anyway I’ve had enough politics for today.

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          • Yes I know you are always wrong on Facts especially when it concerns about Nehru. You need to read how Ambedkar castigated Sheikh and Nehru on Ar 370 but thn Facts are never your forte.
            Instead of judging my history its better for you to refresh your history.

            I have yet to see you talk on facts so far with me. You are free to write 5000 word comment without head, body and tail which only satisfies your writing urge or ego?

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          • the amusing thing is once upon a time the canard on Nehru was that because of his personal link with Kashmir he created this problem. Otherwise Patel and others would have been very happy to let Kashmir go. The new canard is that Patel left to his own devices would have got everything!

            On the rest you tend to rip one or two things out of a much longer history and present it as the entire history, completely decontextualizing things and so on. In any case getting history lessons from the Hindutva forces in contemporary India (which is all you regurgitate at every point) is a fairly pathetic exercise anyway. The ideological issue is not even the biggest problem here. Or at least it isn’t the starting point. It is the utter, total, complete ignorance of the facts married to a willful mythologization of the past that is in many ways even more disturbing. There is no debate to be had on this factual point. Of course extremists everywhere say the very same things and criticize other extremists for doing so!

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          • This has nothing to do with Hindutva and its last refuge when commies lose argument on facts.

            Fact 1 : Did Ambedkar castigated Nehru and Abdullah on Ar 370? Refute it on fact not what you think. Jargon belongs to one’s own mind space not public place. Refute it. Thn you can write ‘intellectual masturbation’ which has no value.

            Fact 2: Is ‘Secular’ govt in J&K erasing all cultural and relogious footprints of Pandits? I gave example also.

            Refute it on facts.
            Hindutva forces are honest not like Commie/Left forces who slander when they lose argument on facts… No exception here.

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          • You should check out Fellini’s Amarcord which highlights, as he sees it, the utter stupidity and bankruptcy of the bourgeois when embracing fascism. Again there are those on the other side with whom I disagree but where I can understand things. You are regrettably not one of them!

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          • Its better for you to check real not reel thing : Read what Ambedkar said on Ar 370. It will save you from debating & writing w/o head and tail jargon, enriching you also. Also check on erasing KP footprints in Kashmir. I draw from Facts and as usual you can’t refute one fact and now going from one goalpost to another. As usual you are master of this trick and many can vouch here.

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          • you are arguing with yourself.. certainly not with me..!

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          • I am putting FACTs and you are running away like all commies do. Your trick of writing ‘vicious unending circular’ comments was also nipped 🙂 Many members know your that trick when you lose on facts.

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          • “the utter stupidity and bankruptcy of the bourgeois when embracing fascism.”
            Jargons. Pata nahi why you insists on using such language. Whenever we say something it is “bourgeosis” (and fascist; have you even looked in the dictionary what it means? writing an arguement on a blog post makes us embrace fascism???!!!!) and when you say Deepika’s cleavage controversy serves her right, it ain’t bougeosis comment! Wah-bhai-wah.

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    • What I meant is, kyun zakhmon ko kured rahe ho VB?? Why disturb the peace, which can be harnessed into a wealthier future dividend. It just pains me that this depressing movie was made, when the sky is the limit for Kashmir. If only the khadoos policians there realized and understood the potential. Hamlet hi banana tha, to ek fantastical Haider banate they. Capitalist Haider, Gold chain wearing, Rolls Royce driving. Poor rich kid who has to deal with this mom sleeping with his billionaire uncle. Some such thing with a fantastical future Kashmiri backdrop that displays what happens when fat rich Indians come to invest in your state. Sorry… just an idea.

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  39. This was a very illuminating read An Jo.. thanks for a great piece..

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  40. Some people do not like to visit some parts of the history. VB has done a commendable and courageous job by focussing on this particular period of history. Every separatist movement has its own story. Kashmir movement gains its strength because there is global islamic brotherhood and its fallout. While LTTE lost its steam because there is no global tamil brotherhood strong in numbers to sustain it. While north eastern states have their own movements erupting sporadically.

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    • Neither Sardar Patel’s iron hand worked nor Nehru’s idealism worked in these circumstances. We need a mix of both. Some love and some discipline.

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  41. The word CHUTZPAH is pronounced either ho͝otspə or ˈKHo͝otspə. It is mis-pronounced in the movie deliberately as CHOOTZPAH so that it can be rhymed with Vishal’s favorite word CHOOTIYAPA which in turn can be rhymed with AFSPA..

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