Qalandar Reviews HAIDER (Hindi; 2014)

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Haider is at once the strongest and weakest of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare adaptations: most of the film has little to do with Hamlet, except in the loosest sense, and focuses on the efforts of one Kashmiri Muslim youth (Shahid Kapoor, the Haider of the film’s title) to find his father Dr. Hilal (Narendra Jha), who has joined the ranks of the disappeared after he secretly treats a militant leader in his home, even as Haider’s mother Ghazala (Tabu) draws closer to her brother-in-law Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) in the wake of the tragedy. Paradoxically, these are in fact the strongest portions of the film, which is perhaps the only popular Indian film “on Kashmir” to be made for adults. Freed of the need to draw cartoon characters (the Good Kashmiri Muslim oppressed by the state; or the Good Indian Army Officers protecting the state from evil jihadis), writers Basharat Peer and Bhardwaj give us human ambiguity. It would have been easy to have Dr. Hilal treat the militant because of his devotion to the Hippocratic oath – but the doctor is coy about his political sympathies (even to his wife), and it is entirely possible that he is a sympathizer; his son Haider is more openly hostile (and nor is this a function simply of his father’s disappearance, as a flashback shows); and his wife Ghazala isn’t ideologically committed so much as fearful. Even the Claudius of this tale is not hateful: Khurram’s name is well-chosen, the writers preferring to evoke the specter of the Mughal Empire’s most glamorous fratricidal monarch, Shah Jahan, rather than its most infamous, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb. This concern with his characters’ irreducible humanity, be they Kashmiri militants or ruthless local politicians (but not, it must be said, Indian soldiers), is perhaps the most Shakespearean thing about Bhardwaj’s adaptation. As homages to the Bard go, one could do worse.

One could also do better: the movie degenerates as it starts to hew more closely to the plot of Hamlet, until, by the end, we are left with a farce that has little to do with either Hamlet or good cinema. It’s a great pity, because through the first two-thirds of the movie Haider is Bhardwaj at his most cinematic: the pacing is fantastic, the narrative grabs you and won’t let go, to the point where I realized on multiple occasions that I was half-holding my breath while watching the movie unfold – it didn’t seem to matter just what was happening on screen, I couldn’t keep my eyes away. And oh, those visuals: this isn’t the Kashmir of picture postcard valleys, but possessed of a more ordinary beauty, shabby and wild. Crucially for the film’s texture (and perhaps for its politics), this beauty isn’t merely natural, but cultural: we see the insides of wonderful old Kashmiri houses, intricately carved woodwork (in one scene, a jaw-dropping headboard serves as backdrop to Tabu’s face when she wakes up), and fabrics so lovely the heart aches to reach out and touch them (the stand outs for me were a shawl Kulbushan (playing Haider’s grandfather) wears in a flashback sequence at his home; and Tabu’s black kurta with green embroidery at a public meeting: these are objects so lovely they wound). Nothing in Maqbool, Omkara, or Kaminey prepared me for the open spaces and trees in Haider, and while cinematographer Pankaj Kumar surely deserves a lot of credit, the memory of The Blue Umbrella suggests that Bhardwaj might have an especial affinity for the Himalayan winter. Not since Mani Ratnam’s “Satrangi” video from Dil Se has anyone captured any part of Kashmir so memorably – and that song was all of seven minutes; Bhardwaj’s visuals demand more patience here, and their rewards are gentler.

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. One might speculate – although Bhardwaj doesn’t do much with it – that Khurram’s trespass with Ghazala is unforgiveable precisely because it gives flesh to Haider’s own traitorous desire.) Shahid Kapoor does well as Haider (far better than I had given him credit for after the first trailer), although Kay Kay, while his usual enjoyable self, doesn’t imbue Khurram with the sort of nuance the role demands. Shraddha Kapoor’s Arshia is under-written and inadequate as any kind of Ophelia, but (and this is a compliment) she is barely recognizable as the actress from Ek Villain, reminding us that few contemporary Hindi film directors are as interested in female characters – or at least their eyes – as Bhardwaj is.

A number of viewers have objected to the film’s politics as “one-sided”, that is, as sympathetic to the views of those in favor of Kasmir’s secession from India. The reality is a little more complicated: Haider simply underscores that every other popular Hindi film about Kashmir has been about abstractions, about the Big Ideas of Peace, Love, Terrorism, and Indian nationalism, that is to say about debates that the wider Indian public might or might not be engaged in; while Haider throws in its lot with representing the fabric of life in Kashmir for a certain kind of person at certain moment in time. That is, Haider offends inasmuch as, and precisely because, it insists on showing what the world might seem like to a Kashmiri Muslim during the state’s wretched 1990s, replete with gross human rights abuses, black sites, state repression, and militancy (both Pakistan- and India-sponsored), without embedding this into any kind mainstream narrative. If the rest of us are offended by this representation’s indifference to how central Kashmir is to our notions, that testifies to our political narcissism; indeed, Haider’s (understandable) narcissism — his father’s absent body embodies Kashmir to him — unsettles us precisely because it is the local reflection of our own, more national self-regard. Haider is uninterested in any other story but that of his father’s betrayal by both his uncle and mother, and is indifferent to Ghazala’s pain in being trapped in a love-less marriage; to us, who have been similarly indifferent, in the sense that we have for far too long been interested in ideas of Kashmir, and what those say about the ideas of India (or Pakistan, for that matter), rather than the people of Kashmir, Bhardwaj’s mirror is discomfiting.

As an aside, there is something more than a little perverse on this insistence on “balance”, on pairing State atrocities with those committed by militants, Kashmiri or otherwise. But such “balance” yields not fairness but an equivalence between the Indian state and non-state actors, an inadvertent concession of sovereignty’s attributes to those who cannot be deemed to legitimately possess them. In their devotion, nationalism’s adherents turn treasonous. More bluntly: the sort of “fairness” that would lead one to invoke the specter of militant abuses every time violations by arms of the State are discussed undermines the position of the Indian state’s adherents. There can’t be any “fairness” or “balance” because there isn’t any counter to the Indian state in Kashmir (to say that there is defeats the whole purpose, which is why official channels, more sensitive to the attributes and pretensions of sovereignty, prefer to deny claims of abuses, not, as Twitterati and bloggers do, cite justificatory atrocities by the other side).

I don’t mean to be coy here: the Indian Army is not the good team in this movie, and nor are the soldiers we encounter fully realized characters the way they would have been in a Shakespeare play; they serve here not as people but as threatening manifestations of a power that is malign because it is unaccountable. And it is bitterness at this unaccountability, rather than any question of whether or not the filmmakers are “anti-national,” that serves as the appropriate frame for Haider. The very atrocities the film focuses on – extra-judicial killings and “disappearances” too well-documented to be denied; torture; the government sponsoring of militants to fight militants (amply reported in the mainstream media itself); the power over life and death afforded by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (“AFSA”), a statute that blights life in several states, not just Kashmir – testify to this, marking out the contours of a grievously injured liberalism and political culture, of which Kashmir is merely one symptom. (Likewise, I am not insensitive to the fact that this film cleared the censors, and despite the rumored cuts and alterations that entailed, the fact that it was cleared at all is striking, and does the Board a lot of credit.) Indeed, the injustice of this unaccountability is a better frame for the film than even Hamlet is, as Bhardwaj and Peer re-work a number of the play’s tropes into commentary on Kashmir: thus, “to be or not to be” is here not an expression of any interiority, but the state of limbo the families of the disappeared find themselves in; the same is true of the disappeared themselves, the ghosts who haunt Kashmir from beyond the grave. It doesn’t help illuminate Hamlet for us, but it does serve to shed some light over Kashmir.

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175 Responses to “Qalandar Reviews HAIDER (Hindi; 2014)”

  1. This is one of my favorite reviews by you Qalandar, and I am also quite sure it is one of the better reviews of the film itself. It left me breathless as I was rushing to read it!
    I also felt the scene at the town square where Haider narrates the sections from AFSA was really powerful. Also the fresh and unusual choreography revealing the play within the play sequence of the Bulbul song, and the use of the nazms of Faiz are all so beautifully interwoven in the script.

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  2. Brilliant. The most accurate and incisive write up in the film so far. It is so close to what I was planning to wrote after last night’s viewing that it makes the enterprise pretty redundant. I will perhaps have to see it again to arouse some passion to write on it.

    First the point of disagreement. There is only one really. That too, in the way of semantics. Haider is at once the strongest and the weakest Shakespeare adaptations, you say. I don’t agree. I do agree though when you say, most of the film has little to do with Hamlet, except in a loose sense ( except in a superficial sense, I would have said, in the sense of having parallel characters and parallel lines). This is where semantics comes in. I do not want to judge it as an ‘adaptation’ really. I want to judge it as an independent film, and I think it is clearly Bharadwaj’s best.

    Now to the points that I vehemently agree with and was about to put them down , in almost the same words in many instances.

    Oh, yes, one more point of disagreement. While I agree that the first two-thirds were near-perfect, and the last one-third is a little less surer on its feet, I won’t be as harsh as to say : ‘the movie begins to degenerate more closely to the plot of Hamlet, until we are left with a farce that has little to do with Hamlet or good cinema’. Come, come. Their is a drop in control and quality. But it is not that bad.

    Back to the points I passionately agree with. I will merely quote them, as I won’t want to say anything more, or any differently.

    “I was half-holding my breath while watching the movie unfold – it didn’t seem to matter just what was happening on screen, I couldn’t keep my eyes away.” Precisely.

    “And oh, those visuals:” Yes. Yes.

    “And fabrics so lovely the heart aches to reach out and touch them “ ( I had a beautiful shawl of tabu in her first shot on the bed and the embroidered pillow cover in mind. )

    “Nothing in Maqbool, Omkara, or Kaminey prepared me for the open spaces and trees in Haider.”

    “..few contemporary Hindi film directors are as interested in female characters – or at least their eyes – as Bhardwaj is.”

    “..in the sense that we have for far too long been interested in ideas of Kashmir, and what those say about the ideas of India (or Pakistan, for that matter), rather than the people of Kashmir, Bhardwaj’s mirror is discomfiting.” ( I would order the loudest drum roll of applause at this point.)

    “..there is something more than a little perverse on this insistence on “balance”, on pairing State atrocities with those committed by militants, Kashmiri or otherwise. But such “balance” yields not fairness but an equivalence between the Indian state and non-state actors, an inadvertent concession of sovereignty’s attributes to those who cannot be deemed to legitimately possess them.” ( another round of loud drum rolls.)

    “..which is why official channels, more sensitive to the attributes and pretensions of sovereignty, prefer to deny claims of abuses, not, as Twitterati and bloggers do, cite justificatory atrocities by the other side).” ( This is what I call insight.)

    “they serve here not as people but as threatening manifestations of a power that is malign because it is unaccountable. “ ( A subtle observation once again.)

    Indeed, the injustice of this unaccountability is a better frame for the film than even Hamlet is, as Bhardwaj and Peer re-work a number of the play’s tropes into commentary on Kashmir: thus, “to be or not to be” is here not an expression of any interiority, but the state of limbo the families of the disappeared find themselves in; the same is true of the disappeared themselves, the ghosts who haunt Kashmir from beyond the grave. It doesn’t help illuminate Hamlet for us, but it does serve to shed some light over Kashmir.” ( Precisely. Kashmir is the hamlet of the film, as Bhardwaj himself has said in his interview.)

    Take a bow Qalandar; in a long long time, I have not felt this close to genuine admiration for any writing on Bollywood.

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  3. Hindu:

    Updated: October 5, 2014 16:50 IST
    ‘If I am not a leftist, I am not an artist’

    As “Haider” garners applause over the first weekend of its release, director Vishal Bhardwaj talks about his relationship with Shakespeare

    For a guy who grew up in the machismo-driven environs of Meerut, Vishal Bhardwaj’s fascination for the lilting text of William Shakespeare is baffling. “In school I was scared of Shakespeare,” says Bhardwaj settling for an exclusive chat on a Sunday afternoon. Unlike his peers, he doesn’t come firing quotable quotes. Like his film you have to be patient with him. “In school and college everything that needs to be mugged scares you. It was like let’s finish it and then we will go and play. The fact that I was more inclined towards cricket than academics made me wary of Merchant of Venice,” reflects.

    Be it Maqbool or Omkara, even a student of literature will find it difficult to find that these films are adaptations of Macbeth and Othello. They come across as original stories on screen. As he completes the trilogy by adapting “Hamlet” as Haider has it become a marketing tool for him? “From my side it is like giving credit to the original source. If it becomes a marketing tool than nothing like it! I know if I don’t tell people they won’t get it. Many have not read it and most have forgotten. These days people don’t tend to move beyond the synopsis and character introduction. I am talking about the general film going audience in the country. But I am not the first one to give credit to the great writer. In Gulzar sahib’s Angoor, we get to know that the film is based on Comedy of Errors only when Shakespeare winks from a photograph. In fact it made me realise that Shakespeare was not all that boring as I used to think. That he wrote such comic double roles. Even after that I didn’t go to bookshop to buy Comedy of Errors.”

    Many years later, during a train journey he came across an abridged version of Shakespeare through a child and read Macbeth.

    Vishal says he wanted to adapt “Hamlet” against the backdrop of militancy in Kashmir for a long time. “But I am not from Kashmir and have not been to Kashmir. Whatever Kashmir I have seen it is through television and films. Whosoever is slightly awakened about today’s India would know about the problems of Kashmir. But the issue doesn’t make a film. I used to feel alien about the everyday life.”

    Then he came across Basharat Peer’s “Curfewed Night”. “After reading his account of growing up in those conflicted times, I got the link I was looking for. I literally went back in time with Basharat to understand the mid ‘90s. The fear of that time….” Basharat in fact proved to be a model for Haider. “Like many Kashmiris when he was growing up his parents sent him to Aligarh to study to keep him away from militancy. Haider also goes to Aligarh.” Dedh Ishqiya

    As part of the research he watched different adaptations of Hamlet on screen. “Akira Kurosava made a nice adaptation of ‘Hamlet’. Then I watched Mel Gibson’s version. I really liked the Russian adaptation by Grigori Kozintsev. Almost all of them use Shakespearean language. Even the one made in 2004, which is set in contemporary corporate world uses the same kind of language. I think the West hasn’t come out of the Shakespeare’s shadow. I have no such hangovers.”

    Many find Shakespeare, akin to a master screenplay writer for a Hindi blockbuster. “He wrote for the masses at that time. Many of us miss that point. His greatness was that he never lost touch with human consciousness. If somebody is a king, he doesn’t cease to be a human being.”

    Whosoever has read “Hamlet” can figure out that while Shakespeare suggested that there is no point in blindly following the king. Vishal has replaced the king with the leadership of separatists. While Claudius killed his brother for the throne, here Khurram colludes with State to eliminate his brother to get political mileage. “I am not making a political point. I am trying to look at the problem with a human eye through the turbulent life of a family. But at the same time I haven’t turned the eye from political issues. AFSPA, half widows, which is a step ahead of what our films have made of Kashmir problem. I hope the film will make audience rise above the jingoism and understand that the situation is not as simple as it is made out to be.” Isn’t he asking the Kashmiris to look within? “Not just them, every stakeholder. Indians should also look within. What we have been doing in the State is not right all the time. Everybody has to look within. At least I have looked within.”

    One asks him if that was reason behind a section of Kashmiris protesting against shooting in the Valley? “No. If you don’t get to see the shooting it can happen anywhere, Omkara” he reasons hoping the Kashmiris will get to watch the film as soon as life gets on track after the floods.

    Over the years literary commentators and psychoanalysts have read multiple meanings in the Bard’s play. And one of them is Oedipus complex. “It is not there on the surface. At least I have never found it on the surface. It is much later that some people have analysed it in different ways. Some analysts have said that ‘Hamlet’ is angry more because his mother has married his uncle and less because the uncle has killed his father. If you want to look it that way then certain things start to appear. I have explored whatever can be within the parameters of our society.” Also, he adds, Oedipus complex is not part of the conscious mind. “The moment you know about the feeling the feeling goes away. It is a complex as long as you are not aware of it.”

    He is one of the few Indian filmmakers, who captures the whimsical side of life on screen but sometimes the absurd loses touch with reality as in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, an adaptation of Brecht’s play.

    “We are all so complex from inside and we all live in a real world but still it doesn’t reflect in our mainstream films. I try to be real. May be in Matru I didn’t present it the way it should have been but at the time of production I was sure. You never really know….that’s the curse of the art.” Of late the chasm between the acting standards of his lead actors and the supporting actors is increasing. If one could notice it in Saat Khoon Maaf, it became glaring in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. Vishal admits that he loves supporting actors more than the lead actors. Many feel that if two actors of different calibre are on screen, mainstream film audience usually don’t get it.

    “In commercial films the standard of acting is usually abysmal but people find the difference in my films. Once in the Censor Board some members were against the climax of Kaminey. They found the bloodshed too much. I contested that you give U/A certificate to films which show much more violence and in my film it is more of a comic book kind of climax. They said they also understand this but the violence is so real that we get worried. In those films people feel they are watching a film. In your film they feel they are watching reality. I think this is my fortune as well as my misfortune. The audience might not know the reason but they feel the difference in the level of acting because I try to be realistic. When they find that difference in the so-called commercial films they ignore it because there they don’t go to watch acting. They go to pass time.” So he casts these stars for commercial concerns? “Of course, otherwise why will I do it,” he laughs.

    His films are assuming leftist leanings. “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? It is like I have been told that your films don’t make 100 crores because your cinematic vision doesn’t appeal to the popular taste. And I say is janam mein hi 100 crore bana ke dikhayenge.”

    And if it doesn’t happen we will bring your stars into our fold. Perhaps it is because of this streak that his critics feel that he has been diluting since Maqbool. “I am the same kind of man. You can’t lie on screen. I don’t care about the audience.” Really? “Why should I? The audience hasn’t given me anything. I have been appreciated by the intellectuals, the critics and the connoisseurs of cinema. And it is because of them what I am. I don’t follow the popular taste. I want to hold out the hand. It’s up to them whether they want to hold it or not. I don’t make something that I won’t be able to own publicly.”

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  4. A brilliant review by Q, and an equally good response by Utkal.

    I agree with Utkal that Haider works best when seen as “superficially similar to Hamlet”. I think this is what even Rachel alludes to in her review.

    Definately VB’s best so far. I like his courage to tell his story without selling out Haider. Much has been said about Tabu and yes she is amazingly good, but this movie is Haider’s story.

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  5. Q: This is an extraordinary piece which demands multiple readings. The film has met its right reviewer in you. Thank you for this piece (I am very glad that the blog has 2 fine pieces on fine which engage with the film in the right manner).

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  6. I must second what has already been said here. I haven’t seen the film but this was a remarkable read. One of your very best pieces.

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  7. I think that Shoojit Sircar’s “Yahaan” is a good film to be seen after watching Haider.

    And I while I loved Haider I still maintain that “Ankhon Dekhi” remains the film of the year up till now.

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    • This is second time i heard this level of priase for Aankho Dekhi .. and after checking IMDB reviews, everyone seems on same page. I wonder when this movie was released and why it went unnoticed, if it was so brilliant. This is sad case ..

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    • I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to provide you the piece you’re looking for on Ankhon Dekhi but while I liked the film and specially for its Bartleby-like quality (“I prefer not to”) and certainly found it rather interesting (much moreso than Shahid) I wasn’t totally bowled over by it. But it definitely is a film that deserves a lot more attention.

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    • by the way quite enjoyed Holiday. Had never seen the original (Vijay always does that to me!) but this was a gripping film for the most part. I can’t say I was happy with some of the film’s fascist solutions but it was otherwise very engaging and certainly one of Akshay Kumar’s most charismatic outings. In fact other than Khakee I’d say this is his single best appearance.

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      • I too didn’t mind Holiday, but Thuppaki was the only Vijay film I have ever enjoyed (and enjoyed it more than Holiday not the least because Vidyut Jamwal made for a very impactful villain in the Tamil film, the baddie in Holiday was just meh!). Also found Bullet Raja entertaining enough. Will take Mardaani very easily over both though. On Akshay I will add Tashan to your list as well (his entry scene in the Ram Leela is a hoot) and perhaps Namaste London.

        On the disturbing politics in a Masala film, Singham Returns takes it to an altogether different level where it enters the realm of the farcical.

        The Masala film I really want to have your opinion on is Pandiya Nadu.

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  8. Truly a wonderful review.
    Unfortunately , my political narcissism will
    Not allow me to sweep the main issue of contention under the carpet.
    You say it is about Haider and not about politics. I say, I couldn’t care less about Haider and his story if the requirement to engage in his story is to allow a caricature and unjust portrayal of men who lay down their life for the country. No amount of sugar coating or fancy footwork can justify the abandonment of a responsibility. I am not asking for fairness as that is too much to expect but atlesst take a stance instead of using the politics as a tool to advance the narrative. I am sorry but I cannot separate the two and cannot look at the movie in isolation. One can characterize this mind set whicheverv way one wants but that is how it is. And, I refuse to be apologetic about it.

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  9. As GreatBong said, Haider is just ‘Liberal Porn’. How all traces of KPs are erased and new narratives and myths formed.

    Martand Sun temple which took Sikander one year to destroy is imposed with devil ? Oh Ya we are secular (=Hinduphobe).

    Anantnag is showns as Islamabad.. Oh ya we are seculars.

    KP exodus is lie uttered by liar policeman… Oh ya we are seculars.

    And What to expect from Commie Bhardwaj and separatists Basharat Peer. If something is left unsaid thn read BPs wife also….

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    • >Martand Sun temple which took Sikander one year to destroy is imposed with devil ?

      Devil? Have you seen the film?

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  10. “You say it is about Haider and not about politics.” who? Qalandar? The maker.? I think everyone is on the same page here. The film is about Kashmir. And it is its mature way of dealing with politics that makes it among the best Hindi films of the decade. To quote from Qalandar’s review, ” which is perhaps the only popular Indian film “on Kashmir” to be made for adults.” And why the politics of the film makes so much sense has been explained in the review. To quote once again, at the risk of repetitioon, since some can’t still get it: ” As an aside, there is something more than a little perverse on this insistence on “balance”, on pairing State atrocities with those committed by militants, Kashmiri or otherwise. But such “balance” yields not fairness but an equivalence between the Indian state and non-state actors, an inadvertent concession of sovereignty’s attributes to those who cannot be deemed to legitimately possess them. In their devotion, nationalism’s adherents turn treasonous. More bluntly: the sort of “fairness” that would lead one to invoke the specter of militant abuses every time violations by arms of the State are discussed undermines the position of the Indian state’s adherents. There can’t be any “fairness” or “balance” because there isn’t any counter to the Indian state in Kashmir.”

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  11. Interesting and well-written review. LOVED this bit:

    “Haider simply underscores that every other popular Hindi film about Kashmir has been about abstractions, about the Big Ideas of Peace, Love, Terrorism, and Indian nationalism, that is to say about debates that the wider Indian public might or might not be engaged in; while Haider throws in its lot with representing the fabric of life in Kashmir for a certain kind of person at certain moment in time.”

    Which is why I am surprised and confused by lines in your piece that suggest that the film is about “Kashmir” (as you say, an abstraction) or “the Kashmir people” (equally an abstraction). Doesn’t that expansion in the reading of the film invite criticisms about “omissions”? I don’t think it’s the intention, but there is a whiff of “Haider” presents *the* story of Kashmir or more exclusively, *the truth* of Kashmir, in sections of this otherwise very thoughtful review.

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  12. VB wanted to make Hamlet with espionage background but when Gulzar read the script, he said “where is the tragedy in this” and therefore VB moved to Kashmir plot.
    I still like AJ’s review. More readable.

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  13. I had to watch this film and couldn’t wait for the DVD so did it online 😉 Missed out on the great visuals of course, but at least got the sense of what was being portrayed.

    I appreciate the POV in the review. Q seems to have analysed it very well.

    Personally I wasn’t (still am not) really aware of the details of those days.
    My knowledge was limited to atrocities on KP and of their being uprooted.
    I think now I can get a broader idea applying some logic that the sufferers were among the muslims too.
    If they didn’t support the militants they would be in trouble. And of course all about the missing persons, and half widows was enlightning.

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    • If they did not support the militants, they would have died. They had no choice and there lies the tragedy.

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    • I liked your comment.

      No one disagree that KP suffered (a lot). It should not have happened. It was wrong (evil).

      But having said that how about also being upset about the death and suffering of the rest.

      This is the first time a movie on Kashmir, stepped out of the Pollyanna narrative and spoke like an adult.

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  14. On a lighter note: I see one similarity between Vishal Bharadwaj and Qalandar, his film is more about Kashmir and less about Hamlet, so is Qalandar’s review more about Kashmir and less about Haider.

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  15. “an inadvertent concession of sovereignty’s attributes to those who cannot be deemed to legitimately possess them”
    Q, what I cannot understand, perpectually, what is it in the religion, that incites the aderents to commit violent acts and permanently up in arms with ‘establishment’. Take them in absolutely ANY part of the world (including China) and you find militancy, non-peace, violence. These are most common attributes (apart from what happened in Northern England; abuses towards women/children; their own and outside their own!). It is almost a forgone conclusion. If they are there, there will be lack of peace and lot of hatred!

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    • You bigotry assigns responsibility to the religion. Scholars look at all these instances and see otherwise.

      From Obama to Bush to Natantahu (very diverse group of worlds leaders), all agree that Islam is a peaceful religion. It is just your sickness that tarnishes a religion of 1.5 billion people for the actions of a few (less than 0.001 percent).

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    • Di,

      If you’re in USA and in NY or any big state, go to any hospital and you’ll see countless muslim doctors, i don’t think they’re there to start war, hatred, etc…

      I guess you want to generalize but it makes you sound raciest which is okay if you are. I don’t have issue with that.

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      • But if there are things happening in middle east and you will see protests in India. Is religion more important than daily bread and butter? And what makes people travel thousand miles to fight some enemy of Islam?

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        • as Bandra pointed out, there are 0.001 percent who will do stuff like that.

          There are about 200 million muslims in India, are you telling me you saw them all protest in India?

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          • “there are 0.001 percent who will do stuff like that.”
            And the most interesting thing is I NEVER, EVER hear the rest of 99.99% (the stat you provided) saying ANYTHING AT ALL!! I don’t see them doing morchas or anything at all. Be it 9/11 or attacks in Mumbai or any where! All they do is fight and pelt with words, on satyamshot, proclaiming peacefulness. Lol

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          • of course you won’t. Will that sell newspaper?

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          • Di

            A lot of people are very selective about what they see or hear.

            Most people just see what is shown to them. Here resides the biggest problem.

            But then there are some who insist on not seeing things which will rob the fig leaf behind which they hide while ranting and raving.

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      • “countless muslim doctors, i don’t think they’re there to start war, hatred, etc…”
        Still super minority those docs and still wives-daughters in burqas and other atrocities (that I know personally) that I won’t mention here!! Even for the ‘educated’ ones, the ideas don’t change. I don’t have issue with people but the religion or its mullah’s are not interpreting it in ‘peaceful’ way, for sure, for its aderents to be peaceful and not troublemakers! There is something wrong in the picture. Maybe Q can clarify it without getting excited. There are atrocities against hindus; why don’t you see them making bombs and doing other stuff in any parts of the world. Why are people from Thailand and buddists ALWAYS peaceful. I do wonder sometimes. Of course it is not the religion!!!

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        • not sure i get your point.

          You have a problem with wives and daughters being in burqa? Then you should have an issue with all nuns, no?

          Which hindu country is getting bombed left and right?

          “Why are people from Thailand and buddists ALWAYS peaceful”

          Please look at current situation of Mayanamar. Many mulsims are getting killed left and right.

          You’re probably brought up in environment where you’re thought to hate muslims and probably has no interaction with muslims.

          So did you see 200 mulsims in India protesting?

          It’s easy to generalize.

          Just so you know, i’m not defending actions of ISIS, sh!t if give me a nuke, i’ll drop it in a heartbeat on their a$$, but don’t come here saying that all muslims are like that or the good ones are in minority.

          I know couple Pakistani people who thinks all indians (hindu or mulsims) are bad, you sound no different from them.

          You sound like my Dad, he thinks all pakistani people are bad.

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          • “you sound no different from them.”
            Some of my best friends are from Pakistan. They hate ‘Paki’stan and have now turned to Hinduism or are Buddists!!!

            Like

        • “Why are people from Thailand and buddists ALWAYS peaceful”

          You need to learn some facts here. You might not have been following the current Buddhist violence in Burma or indeed the Buddhist supported violence against Tamil minority in SL (it’s not just ‘Sinhalese’, the Buddhist establishment has always more or less supported it). One of the most militarized societies on the planet, Japan before WWII, had countless Zen followers among its top ranks and they committed some of the worst atrocities including mass rapes. On that note historically Buddhist temples in Japan even maintained armies in many cases. I could multiply these examples.

          The moment one jumps to broad generalizations one is more or less giving oxygen to some deep seated racial or religious biases or what have you. There is a huge problem within Islam in the contemporary world. Islamism is a serious issue. But one has to be a little sophisticated about trying to understand it. All the violence in this sense is still committed by a sliver of the population. Now saying that others whether or not they are sympathetic to a definition of political Islam that in turn also feeds such extremists, even if most people don’t agree with the tactics, is a bit like saying that every person who votes for the BJP must also endorse every riot every triggered by the BJP (of course according to you the Hindutva crowd has never done any such thing which aligns you exactly with the mullahs you don’t like! they too don’t accept anything, they too think it’s a Western conspiracy to say otherwise!).

          I could expand on all this. There is no religion, none, that doesn’t have its hands dirty in similar ways. Buddhists didn’t just leave India. They were driven out. Between them and Hindu orthodoxies there was a centuries long struggle. The most brutal blood-letting happened on European soil (i.e. before the history of WWII) when Protestants fought Catholics in the Thirty Years War (and in lesser episodes in addition).

          It’s all a question of what history one wishes to look at. I happen to reject even platitudes like ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. No religion is one of peace or violence. This is simply a childish way of framing things. But if one does wish to look as violence there is no religion, no ethnicity, no nation that’s blameless. Guess why? Because humans are the same everywhere. Our DNA remains the same! All your zealotry (and is no other word for it) would simply be serving a different label (Islam or Christianity or whatever) if you were born in a different family or lived somewhere else. This is always the problem with those who are completely persuaded of the correctness of their beliefs and who refuse empirical evidence except of the sort that confirms their mythologized self-conceptions: that there are the same sort everywhere and that all of this self-righteousness simply depends on an accident of birth! Notice how everyone thinks their country is the best, their culture the greatest and what not. Well by a purely logical deduction everyone couldn’t be right at the same time! The same goes for religion or anything else. Which is why one must be a bit more enlightened about these things. And that in turn cannot come about if one is unwilling to educate oneself. Otherwise one is only like the mullah who has exactly the same position!

          And again there is a serious problem in political forms of Islam (‘Islamism’ as many scholars have termed it) in the contemporary world. This needs to be acknowledged and I certainly don’t have anything in common with those on the other side who try to keep sweeping it under the rug. But from a very precisely framed political statement to a larger and completely crude generalization that questions an entire ‘great religion’ of history is absurd. But yes there are all these ostrich holes all over the world where fundamentalists of one breed or another bury their heads and think nothing else is going on.

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          • One of the other problems with generalization is that one makes the actors ‘passive’. In other words if all Muslims are bad or all Christians are bad or all African-Americans are bad or whatever then this takes away any kind of responsibility from anyone who belongs to these groups. Because it is simply part of their ‘nature’ to do so. And similarly all political projects that are planned in precise ways also become part of this general abstraction.

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          • I often think you talk too much, Satyam :-), but this is such a great comment (and the addendum below). My only quibble – I do think that voting for the BJP means that you are okay with, if not exactly endorsing, their violence.

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          • I think that for the large majority of people voting for the BJP they don’t really accept the violence as such. In other words few people do so feeling that something terrible happened and we nonetheless support the party. The same in other contexts. What happens is that people either don’t accept anything happened or if they do they understand it in very abstract terms as part of a larger cycle in which everyone is equally guilty or at the most even of they see it as something special they consider it a response to even more special circumstances in which others instigated things. So on and so forth. There are all kinds of alibis people create for themselves. But this is different from endorsing violence explicitly.

            thanks for your comment by the way. Indeed I do talk too much. No debate here! I’ll only say that once I used to talk infinitely more and every day! So there’s hope for me yet!

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          • All voting Republicans support abortion? Indirectly you support whatever they stand for but directly you may have an opposite view on a topic. At end of day you may support a party for just a issue out of bunch of issues.

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          • yes meant to add this as well in my comment. that people support parties for all kinds of ‘positive’ reasons and are then either indifferent to the rest or look at the negative stuff differently. Everyone who supports Obama does not support an incessant Drone campaign!

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          • Buddist literature is not littered with violence nor their teachers teach or interpret the books in that way. Chanting, meditation, nothingness. There could be local issues (Burma/Japan) at a given point in time but one doesn’t see a (transplanted) buddist in the world, to be a troublemaker, bombing buildings and terrorizing people. Which is not what I see with people following Islam, universally. Be it satyamshot or elsewhere, all I see/hear is talk of violence, aggression, anger, hatred. The transplanted ones, go outside, and make more trouble. Be it France, USA or Canada. E.g. I don’t see a Pakistani, running away from troubles of Pakistan, leaving it all behind. I see them going elsewhere and creating more of the same (e.g. northern England shameful incident).
            Sad but true. It is always “my way or highway” with them.(exception is .0001% not the rule).

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          • I suppose the one thing one always learns when trying to argue with you is that you can always be counted on to not listen or not understand, most often both, and repeat the very same things all over again!

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          • Di :

            0.0001 percent and Mosque and developed country … Now imagine situation in impoverished nations 🙂

            http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/canada-mosque-teaches-4-year-olds-how-to-behead/

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          • “you can always be counted on to not listen or not understand, most often both, and repeat the very same things all over again!”
            Ditto for you satyam.

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          • Bliss: My point exactly. Why don’t we see them immigrating to developed nations and doing positive activities e.g. putting computer in one hand (and Kuran in other), getting rid of madarsas and mullah’s; impowering female via education; getting rid of stupid nonsense (covering everything up except for the eyes; maybe should wear goggles because one could make googly eyes at others too). Why is it so easy for them to continue to sit in the same boat (of hatred) even when they are removed (from poverty/injustince etc that they supposedly suffered in their root country). It is this mind set that I cannot understand. The Japs came to USA and living in peace. They were separated out during WW, in usa, into camps; but they didn’t go around after wards, in anger, bombing USA, for all collective jap misery, suffering and injustice. The hindus are persecuted in their own country; you don’t see a Kashmiri pandit going back and bombing Kashmir. He is starving, poor, hungry too. So something has to be wrong in the books. Enough to corrupt people.

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          • Fair points – munna & Satyam.

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  16. I don’t have issue with showing Indian Army in bad light but then you need to go whole nine yard. Here in the movie at director’s convenience he shows army as Villain (and in some scenes accentuate it..like soldier throwing father’s picture in filmy way at gate when he is searching for him or army officer without remorse asking the house to be destroyed..You could have done the same result with slightly different screenplay).
    And if you make a film from Kashmiri youth then why insert political commentary at end for Indian viewer as some sort of neutral observer. That in my opinion shows the your political agenda but for fear of repercussion, you show token positiveness.

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    • On the review, you are too comprehensive 🙂

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    • >why insert political commentary at end for Indian viewer as some sort of neutral observer

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the censors forced it on them and made it obligatory to include those lines.

      Such things have been done in the past.

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    • I know dozens of army families whose wives become widows fighting this terrorism in Kashmir. My heart goes out to them. They were innocent soldiers too doing their job.

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      • Yes, there are innocent soldiers who gets killed. I’m sure you know of innocent women who gets raped too.

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        • I strongly denounce raping of innocent women and would hope those who do it burn in hell forever. Even if they are members of Indian army.
          I hope that you share similar sentiment for those who kill innocent soldiers and express it.

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          • and this allows me to add to the point I just made to Di..

            the worst examples of armies using rape as a weapon of war in recent history.. the Japanese in East Asia, The Pakistanis in the East, the Serbians in Bosnia. There are similar events in the Congo war or when the Russian army occupied Berlin. In short every kind of nationality and ethnicity and so on.

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          • Hmm, so no guts to denounce Muslim militants.

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          • In 1995, 2768 persons were killed. The Security forces were attacked 2570 times, that is, on an average about seven times a day. The number of security personnel killed increased from 198 in 1994 to 234 in 1995. 211 more civilians were killed in 1995 than in 1994.’

            January 26- Two Bombs exploded near the saluting base and one at the entrance of the Stadium. Eight persons, including a ‘black cat commando’, two Army Jawans , two police constables and two officials of the State Information Department, were killed. 54 others injured. The Governor himself had a providential escape.’

            ‘February 6 – An Army vehicle carrying Army Jawans from Jammu Cantonment was blown near Jorian, by a powerful mine. Nine Army men lost their lives. In another similar landmine blast near Khumriyal in Kupwara district, six Army Jawans and a civilian were killed’

            ‘May 13-1995- In Bharat Village of Doda, eight Hindus were shot dead and about half a dozen seriously injured by terrorists. Doda had virtually become a domain of Pro Pakistan militants and foreign mercenaries’

            In March 1995, a fierce encounter between security forces and Mast Gul, Pakistani commander of a dreaded jihadi outfit broke out in the Char-e-Sharif shrine. Mast Gul and many foreign mercenaries like him had laid siege to the shrine. After days of a stand off, the entire village, including the shrine, was burnt and Mast Gul managed to escape. According to Pakistani newspapers, Mast Gul managed to cross the LoC (Line of Control) and was accorded a hero’s welcome in Pakistan.

            Another defining moment of the Kashmir jihad happened in July 1995 when a lesser known outfit known as Al Faran kidnapped six western tourists in Anantnag district. Six victims, including two British tourists, two Americans, a German and a Norwegian were abducted. One American tourist managed to escape, but the Norwegian tourist was beheaded and the words Al Faran were carved on to his chest. The other four are now presumed to be dead.

            Of course, none of it found its way into Haider.
            Source DNA. Jagmohan’s book My frozen turbulence in Kashmir.

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          • Di

            General Sam Manekshaw Says in his book that The Indian Army dressed up as the Pakistan Army and did horrible deeds (pillage, rape etc) in East Bengal. Then dressed up as Mukti Bahini and fought the “real” Pakistan Army. The whole thing was an all Indian Army show. We did it all.

            Now I don’t for a moment doubt Sam Manekshaw. He was there. Also I understand that nations do such things for the national interest. India for its interest wanted the former Pakistan broken up and did it. Bhutto on his part helped (or let’s say his desire to hang on to power helped). The aspiration of East Bengal people also helped. All this par for the course.

            Army and other institution do good things and bad things. No one is an angel. Hence your efforts to hold some up as divine, or you being selectively outraged by the suffering of few and not all, is not credible. As a human see all suffering. Otherwise what you are saying is that you don’t care about suffering of those who are not like you

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          • Bandra NRI: I hope you don’t mean to suggest that Pakistani army atrocities in East Bengal were basically the work of dressed up Indian soldiers. Because there is a wealth — and I mean a wealth — of information on the Bengal genocide and mass rape, and to try and deflect responsibility from those responsible for the vast majority of the atrocities would be pretty offensive! And completely inaccurate.

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          • PS — there’s a lot of credible scholarship to the effect that Indira Gandhi was actually a very reluctant intervenor in Bangladesh (not for altruistic reasons but because she was concerned about the impact on secessionist tendencies in India); the government’s hand was forced because of 10-15 million refugees and the radicalising impact this was happening in West Bengal. The idea that this was an enthusiastic intervention to fulfil a dream to break up Pakistan is, frankly, a fantasy peddled by the Pakistani establishment.

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          • To say that the aspirations of the people of East Bengal “also helped”, as if these were incidental to the Indian army’s role, is backward, no?

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          • “General Sam Manekshaw Says in his book that The Indian Army dressed up as the Pakistan Army and did horrible deeds (pillage, rape etc) in East Bengal. Then dressed up as Mukti Bahini and fought the “real” Pakistan Army. The whole thing was an all Indian Army show. We did it all.”

            that’s outrageous. How can you make these claims? One of the most decorated army officers in India is saying that his own army raped and pillaged? What are you talking about?! This is nuts! No one in the world has ever said anything but that the Pakistan army committed one of the worst acts of mass killings and mass rape in modern history. What you’re saying is utter and total nonsense. If you have heard this from someone it’s an invention. If you’re saying you actually read it you’re the one who’s inventing things.

            You and Di should be locked together in a room. You could have a good conversation. This is what I’ve been trying to get at in the past with you. Don’t just be offended when Muslims are attacked or whatever. I have zero sympathy with those who cry about violence and so on selectively. And making all the right noises also doesn’t mean anything when your only interest seems to be in defending one group. Even this would be one thing but to go beyond this and to make such appalling claims is really miserable.

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      • Many jawans being killed regularly on Indo-Pak border before and after Nawaz Sharif’s visit, making many women widows.

        So sad. My heart goes out to them in these callous times, when election speeches are more important than dealing with these continuous kilings for the last couple of months.

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      • Here’s the latest, in a village. Mainstream media doesn’t give this news so that people think ‘achhe din aa gaye’.

        http://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/jammu-and-kashmir/jammu/five-killed-25-injured-in-ceasefire-violation-by-pak-rangers-in-j-k/articleshow/44511106.cms

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        • Old gold

          How close to the line the of fire do they have civilians ? I am still thinking that closer to the border there is a no man (human) land then some “only for arm area” and then way back are civilians.

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        What is amazing is that all the SRK fans on SS are anti Modi , anti Indian army and pro Haider….

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        • omrocky786 Says:

          It is also interesting to note that Satyam had problems with Singhams right wing politics, Maqbools depiction of muslims as gangsters, now let’s see his views on Haider…
          P.S. he did have very strong views on Parzania…

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          • Haven’t seen the film yet but I didn’t write anything on Parzania. At least I don’t remember doing so. You might be thinking of my piece on Firaaq where indeed I did castigate Nandita Das’s representation of ordinary Gujaratis.

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          • Satyam (think of Whoopie in Ghost) “you are in grave danger”. Lets see how much “satyam” you have in you 😉
            Bas aaj doodh kaa doodh, paani kaa paani ho jaye. Opps. I will need to translate that for you, right?

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          • Di

            Your language has the tones of a man. In the thresd on DP that issues became very clear. There is only one person here who speaks of body parts like you.

            I am good at cross correlation, there is only one other member here who stoops to your level of depravity.

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          • “tones of a man” I concur. I am sorry that you are a man. Maybe in next birth…may you be Kashmiri Pandit woman 🙂

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Oops, you are right, I was thinking about your piece on Firaq…

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        • Hmm, Rocky. i was wondering the same.

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        • Omi

          What about the cat in your village that grabs your pole (or is it any pole) ? Is the cat Anti or Pro Modi ?

          I am sure you have by now pigeon holed that poor cat too.

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        • >What is amazing is that all the SRK fans on SS are anti Modi , anti Indian army and pro Haider….

          LOL!! Your wife likes SRK, so I read here. You seem to waver. Always blaming your wife for watching his films.
          And Qalandar must really love SRK. LOL.

          I’ve been anti Modi long before I even thought of SRK or vaguely knew of his existence somewhere.

          Anti- Indian army?? !!!

          What a classic Feku comment just like Feku Modi who stands on his manch for his bhashans claiming stuff like MohanLal Gandhi, Bhutan Sikkim Nepal are all the same to him, LOL!!

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            My wife likes SRK, that is news to me…iskee jaanch honee chaiye, yehee toh ghotala hai….yeh puranee jhadoo bai ki koi samjhao yaar..calling me a feku and peddling a lie about my wife….sick

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  17. Anybody in NYC or NJ? What is the best theatre to watch Indian Movies?

    Getting ready for HNY 🙂

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    • A few options in NJ. Not sure what’s closest for you. There’s one in Columbia Park (North Bergen). Think there’s a similar one in N Brunswick as well. In the city the best option is close to Times Square (Regal Loews).

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      • cool, thanks.

        The Times Square, do they have good screen/sound? How is the parking there?

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        • It’s 42nd between 8th and 9th, could be off by a block. Parking is a bit of an issue. If you go there Sun morning street parking is free on 42nd (and most other places). Specially if you go for an 11 show or something you will probably get it close to the theater. Later the spots fill up. There is municipal parking there and of course lots all over the place (not that expensive on Sun but you still have to be careful). If you think you’ll go in later and will need a lot go to bestparking.com, identify the address, select the lot and print a coupon. The theater is American, they just rent screens there for Indian movies. It’s a 6 or 7 floor deal.

          If you go to Columbia Park in NJ there’s free theater parking. The theater isn’t as good though. Or that too is a Regal or something but the facility at Times Sq is a much better one. Sometimes they play Hindi movies elsewhere in Manhattan too but again the the screens aren’t comparable.

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          • on a related note my big Diwali release (if it is still on and there still seem to be some questions about this) is “I”. Easily the Indian movie I’ve been most excited about in a very long time. Rajen could go with me but he refuses to when Rajnikant isn’t starring..

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          • I saw the trailer of “I”. Now this one truly looks international. Shanker knows his craft and is far advance then bollywood tech team.

            I’m in CT and they have an awesome Cinepark Imax with 18 screen theatre where there’s an Indian movie playing every day, right now they have 3 (BB, Haider and some south Indian movie) playing. But some us friends are decisind on goin to city to get good food to eat and while there, watch a movie.

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          • well then you’re good either way..

            For Tamil films unfortunately the only option is Columbia Park. They had them in Jackson Heights for a while in a vintage theater but that isn’t around anymore. Robot might have played in Manhattan, not sure.

            I love the Rahman soundtrack too by the way. After a long time I agree with Rangan on a Rahman. It’s not his strongest album by any means but he’s having fun after a very long time. A kind of crazy spontaneity (specially in the Ayle song) that one doesn’t often get from him these days.

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          • this is the one:

            https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/amc-empire-25

            playing both Bang Bang and Haider currently.

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          • “Rajen could go with me but he refuses to when Rajnikant isn’t starring..”
            I could go with you but my eyes will be only on Vikram–beast, animal, muscle-man…I will take it all. 🙂

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          • “I could go with you but my eyes will be only on Vikram–beast, animal, muscle-man”

            I’m afraid I’ll be torn apart on the way if I bring up certain subjects..

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          • “I could go with you but my eyes will be only on Vikram–beast, animal, muscle-man…I will take it all”

            I could go with you but i’m not Vikram and not a muscle-man, more of a one pack guy (a huge one at that). 🙂

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          • Satyam

            In NJ, The Columbia Park is now falling apart.

            For parking, and good seats etc, I goto AMC Loews Wayne 14

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          • are they still showing Tamil films? Columbia Park I mean?

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          • “I’m afraid I’ll be torn apart on the way if I bring up certain subjects..”
            I have my ways of ‘converting’ people 😉

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          • Columbia Park Yes
            AMC Wayne not always

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  18. One more reason why I like Haider the best among Bharadwaj’s work: Bhardwaj used to be a bit dry, and making films for critics, so to say, but after Saat Khoon Maaf and Matru Ka Bijli Ka Man Dola, and with a bit of Kashyap influence, he has loosened up a lot and has learnt to have fun, and is therefore a lot more watchable. The grave-digging scene or the two Salmans and the mike testing scenes won’t come to him in the Maqbool days. He surely has evolved.

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    • I doubt Omkara was dry, it was far more lively than Haider. Kaminey, Blue Umbrella and Makdee certainly weren’t dry by any means. I think 7KM was a rather boring film (and far and away his weakest film. But that’s also because the story itself wasn’t really fit for a 2-2.5 screen adaptation). Matru had those comic scenes because it was absurdirst cinema (and the grave digger song is also on the same lines, atleast as I saw it that way.That’s why inspite of having some really suggestive lines and visuals, it doesn’t really work because it seems to belong to a completely different film; and that’s not how it’s there in Shakespeare’s plays where the comedic/non-sensical very much seem to be a part of the play’s world. I do agree with you on the 2 Salmans and the mike-testing scenes, these are really inspired moments).

      I still believe the best Shakespearean moments in a Bhardwaj film are in Kaminey, which incidentally isn’t an adaptation. This is the only film of his which channels the ‘fun’ spirit of Shakespeare and thankfully it also has that certain ‘speed’ in the narrative (which is so essential for a Shakespeare work) unlike say a Maqbool or Haider, which terrific as they are, often feel bogged down by the “issues” they are trying to deal with (Kaminey is bereft of any of this responsibility of providing a ‘moral/message’!)

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  19. @satyam I’ve tried to post comments three times, but they didn’t show up.

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  20. Incidentally I just checked the Outlook website and Qalandar’s piece has been published there. I am THRILLED that this piece would now get even more eyeballs.

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  21. Saurabh: I agree, Omkara was not dry. In fact the loosening up did startt from there with the Bidi Jalaile song and the ‘ Bewakoof aur chutiyah me dhaga bhar ka fark hot ahi’ start. But you don’t feel the trgaedy of Othello, do you? It is emotionally dry. Emotionally untouching. That t , I think, has been fixed in Haider. Sahid is an improvement over Ajay in making you care for the character. And in general , getting free from the Shakespeare template lets the characters take a life of their own, and that’s why Haider works better for me. Oh yes, how could I forget Kaminay…that was Bharadwaj at his most loosened up avtar. But I like 7 Khoon a lot. A lot of interesting characters, from Neil Nitin, to Irrfan to Naseer. I love the concept story-telling, rather than the realistic. and matru had some great comic moments ( especially the Pankaj Kapoor with his cigar in the crashing chopper scene) and some energetic and riotous dance choreography. Shabana and Pankja were first rate. And the bottomline, I still hols, among all his films, Haider is the one that makes real connection with the audience and involves them. ( Though even here there are dull patches in the last half an hour or so.)

    Like

    • I love this one;

      आओ साथ बैठ अंगारे उगलें
      आइनों से कुछ तकलीफ तो मुझे भी है

      Like

  22. As always Qalandar’s reviews are a pleasure to read….I watched Haider too and was going to write some thoughts but don’t know what more I can add after this review.

    On a different note here are some thoughts on Gone Girl which I am just adding here:

    [post created]

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  23. Not that it is the last word or something. But Haider has a 9 rating on imdb. The next highest Bollywood film is Wasseypur with 8.6.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3390572/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_1

    Like

  24. New movie idea for commie VB and unapologetic separatist Basharat to show view point of ‘benign ISIS’ in Kashmir ( unfolding )

    Like

    • DUH??
      Did he say ISIS is welcome there?
      LOL!

      Like

    • But when is Modi going to deal with National issues like security? Pak attacks, Chinese incursion, now ISIS in Kashmir, and he’s busy being a star with Adani’s money and travelling around, now busy with state election bhashan? Is that a work of PM? Next he’ll be giving bhashans for municipal elections.

      Enough of theatrics, naach gaana, dhol bajana. Look after these ISIS elements asap.

      Like

      • yes. time for your Sonia to come back to rule over you. lol

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        • Well, since you support her decision in Kashmir then and how the problem was handled it should be you hoping for her come back or for Modi to continue his ‘UPA following’- policies which he has been doing ever since coming to power. LOL!!

          Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Yeh bheee hoga bliss, and commies tab bhee artistic liberty kee duhai denge..

      Like

      • I wish hardcore Republicans come to power and the red necks push the hindus out of US back to India. Hehehe

        Like

        • omrocky786 Says:

          Re. Rednecks push hindus out..hee hee….wow Spoken like a true commie, itnee nafrat hindus sey….
          The glee in the hee hee is amazing. Sick

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          • No, it was to show how Indians ( hindutva/Modi friendly love jihadi types)** cry about Kashmiri Pandits and express anti muslims sentiments supporting these harmful elements in India while enjoying a liberal US.

            **Agree, in a hurry to write I wrote the word ‘hindus’ which of ourse I didn’t mean. I meant the types I’ve now described.

            I have no reason to be anti any religion. Love them all.

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Chela of the u turn master….puranee jhadoo….

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          • OG: we will return. Don’t worry. When that happens we will not be angry and hold grudges and bomb/terrorize anyone/being. 🙂
            We were our victimhood privately and not make a big show-sha about it!

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          • phir fenka!! Are you even aware of the U-turns of Feku Modi. He used to fenko so much in his LS bhashans and now does the opposite. Here’s a list of his U turns. Don’t ignore. It’s good for your knowledge and how things are going on with this shallow hollow showman .
            Even the bhakts on twitter have stopped using this word out of shame. You seem to be behind times or still in election phase. As for jhadoo, purani ho ya nayee Modi ko bhi haath mein jhadu lena padha. LOL kya natak!!

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Carvan guzar gaya, keju and his creeps jhadoo liye khadey rahey, last heard aapas mein hee ek doosrey ko jhadoo maar rahen hain saaley…

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          • haan Modi bhi gaana bajana kar ke issues taal deta hai.
            FYI AAP has vowed to work for the people and are doing that all the time. Long after Modi finished his natak with the jhadoo AAP is continuing it. Did you even know that MLAs of Delhi get Rs4cr for their constituencies? Well AAP MLAs are busy interacting with jan sabhas to ask people what they want and how to spend this money.
            Media has blacked out AAP and bechaare ignorant logon ko ye lagta hai carvan guzar gaya.
            They are working hard. Without post or getting elected. In Bangalore they have been fighting against land grab and garbage dump problems.
            Now I suggest stop showing your ignorance.

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  25. Great review. The one thing I don’t agree with many reviews that Haider has very little of Hamlet. I agree Bharadwaj has added lot of Kashmir politics but the film’s main graph is as clear as I can remember from Hamlet. I’ll try to put up main points from Hamlet resembling the movie.

    SPOILERS>>>>

    Hamlet(Shahid)) gets a dream and ghost (Roohdoor – Irrfan)appears and tells him that his uncle Claudius(KK Menon) has killed his father(Narendra Jha). Uncle Claudius ends up marrying Gertrude (Tabu). Hamlet seeks revenge with Uncle Claudius and believes his mother is part of the plan. Hamlet starts behaving as insane person and eventually does a play about the story imitating Claudius killing King Hamlet(Bismil song). Hamlet plans to kill Claudius but doesn’t kill as he is in prayer and killing him will send him to Heaven instead. He is sent out of city out to be killed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Salman, Salman) and Hamlet kills them both and escapes from them. Then he confronts his mother and ends up killing Ophelia’s (Shraddha) father(Lalit Parimoo). Ophelia ends up turning insane (even sings a folk song as in Novel) and ends up killing herself. This angers Ophelia’s brother Laertes (Aamir Bashir) and he fights with Hamlet (Shahid) fight at the graye of Ophelia and then finally the climax which is different. Getrude drinks poison meant for Hamlet and dies and then Hamlet kill Claudius whereas its little different in the movie.

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  26. Haider is not about Kashmir realities but VB and Bashart Peer’s ideological indulgence. As one fellow said, “clearly staging a dance at site of destroyed Hindu temple is typical display of Islamist triumphalism”

    “‘That it should come to this’ (Hamlet – Act 1, Scene II)

    The following excerpts are from former Jammu and Kashmir governor Jagmohan’s book My frozen turbulence in Kashmir.

    ‘In 1995, 2768 persons were killed. The Security forces were attacked 2570 times, that is, on an average about seven times a day. The number of security personnel killed increased from 198 in 1994 to 234 in 1995. 211 more civilians were killed in 1995 than in 1994.’

    ‘January 26- Two Bombs exploded near the saluting base and one at the entrance of the Stadium. Eight persons, including a ‘black cat commando’, two Army Jawans , two police constables and two officials of the State Information Department, were killed. 54 others injured. The Governor himself had a providential escape.'”

    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-haider-is-not-the-only-story-of-kashmir-2024038

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  27. A big thanks to everyone who had nice things to say about the piece: you are all too kind. [I won’t be addressing some of the repellent bigotry on display in this thread, although Satyam has addressed some of the factual issues inherent in the arguments being made.]

    Om and Rajen: Come ON guys, you can’t make the “anti-SRK, anti-national” connection. Over the years, Satyam and others have persuasively argued in favor of an ideological link between the sort of cinema championed by SRK and others in the 1990s (the sort of cinema for which he was the vehicle) and the rise of proto-authoritarian capitalist figures like Modi, Turkey’s Erdogan, and (before them) the likes of Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad, as well as others; frankly, for most of his career SRK-fandom has co-existed quite easily with support for right-wing politics (I concede that might be changing of late). As someone who has loudly decried the politics of (e.g.) Main Hoon Na’s representation of the Indian military; or SRK’s own cynical use of “Muslim victimhood” to exploit liberal guilt (and sell tickets for My Name is Khan), I think the sort of link you guys are positing needs to be resisted.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Q, I did not make or intend any connection, it was just a simple observation, and I was careful to say SRK fans at SS.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Btw, I am just so happy to see the hindus and muslims co existing in Pune, saw a muslim meat shop and a shop for pooja samagree pretty close to each other. ..and various other instances..

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      • omrocky786, it’s like that just about all over the world except for may be few rare places.

        In NY, go to Jackson Height or Edison NJ or any other place and there are plenty of Hindu/Sikh/Muslim shops next to each other and living happily.

        Same in India too.

        I’m not sayign they co0exist everywhere but let’s not less than 1% overshadow the over 99%.

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        • omrocky786 Says:

          Z the problem is that those rare places invariably happen to be where the majority is of the you know who…

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        • Wow within a day this thread has degenerated from a marvel to sickening thoughts and outrageous comments on both side of the aisle!

          With the advent of social media and anonymous nature of internet postings, we are all becoming much more opinionated with elevation in extremist thought process. People are not shying away from twisting facts to justify their beliefs. But the problem arises when they try to force their outdated or ancient beliefs into the political environment. I have always felt most of the world’s violence and backwardness today is getting attributed to our religious beliefs. Though we can’t just tell people not to believe it and outlawing it, is not the right choice, but it would be much better for the human race and for the planet earth, if no public display of any religion was permitted and I sincerely hope there comes a time within our own lifetime, when one is only allowed to practice religion within the confines of their home. We would have far fewer wars, more tolerance, and would be decades ahead of where we currently are in regards to civil rights and scientific advancement.

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  28. What the muslim majority countries did to Hindus in their country–Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Kashmir, exterminated hindus to less than 1% of its population, if we were to do the same, drive y’all out, not allow you to make your movies that shows non-factual, lop-sided representations, not allow you to write this glorifying lop-sided review, then it would be just naa? Heck we are not even allowed to criticize the movie AFTER it is made, a movie which shows our armed forces in bad light, not show the whole picture of atrocities on Kashmiri Pandit women raped. What the movie does is show the perpetrators of the genocide as victims/matrys of some sort. “repellent bigotry” indeed mujahideen!!

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    • leaving aside the sickening nature of this comment in more ways than one I didn’t know Vishal Bhardwaj was a Muslim.. the biggest Muslim must have been Manmohan Desai.. won’t bring in Nehru because you guys in any case hate him more than Christians do the Anti-Christ! In any case I have many friends on the Right with whom I often disagree, including some here. But then there is utter bigotry like yours (Qalandar is right about this). No discussion can be had with folks like yourself. It is poor form on my part to even try.

      In any case I think there has been enough politics on this thread. Certainly this kind of rabid comment.

      By the way one of these days you might want to look up the facts on Hindus in Bangladesh. It’s no Pakistan by any stretch of the imagination.

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      • It is “sickening nature” to even entertain such thoughts of driving them out…right? So THAT is what I am saying. Why don’t you call Pakis, Kashmiri-muslims sick!!!

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      • ” the biggest Muslim must have been Manmohan Desai..”
        Yes, I concur. Isn’t that great! The comment is “us” vs “them”…rhetrocial…. We get the labels of fundamentalism…which is what we are not. There is freedom of expression. On both sides. But when “we” express it, it is fundamentalism, facism, rabit this and that, repellant, bigotry, right?! Tumhara isqh, isqh aur mera…
        🙂

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    • Di

      It is NOT YOUR COUNTRY. It is everyone’s country. You too are just as much an outsider as anyone else in India. You too are just an equal citizen. So stop your delusion and wake up to the reality.

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  29. “not allow you to make your movies” : Who is this you? UTV, the producers? Bhardwaj , the director?

    “shows our armed forces in bad light,” : Heck , that’s our army too! And who says you have to every film has to show them in good light? Our politicians, the people who govern the country, who surely come above the army in a democracy, can be shown in bad light, but not the army? why?

    ” not show the whole picture of atrocities on Kashmiri Pandit women raped. ” Soa film has to show everything that happens in the place where it is located?

    And why one of you, who find posting messages so easy, can’t make a film or write a book on the plight of kashmiri Pandits that you keep harping on? Are you all so intellectually disabled ?

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    • Re: “Our politicians, the people who govern the country, who surely come above the army in a democracy, can be shown in bad light, but not the army? why?”

      As an aside, I have long had this question; and we see it in a number of countries around the world. In America, for instance, the imbecilic insistence on “supporting the troops”, even though no one feels offended if any other national institution is soundly abused.

      [Aside: I personally do believe that there should be compulsory military service, simply because the costs of military service ought not to be outsourced on those who are poor enough that the military seems like the best option to them. Obviously there are people from different socio-economic backgrounds who do sign up for military service, but that’s likely not the majority.]

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      • “Our politicians, the people who govern the country, who surely come above the army in a democracy, can be shown in bad light, but not the army? why?”
        Obviously NONE of your people (relatives) were in armed forces who died serving their nation!!! It is insult to their sacrifice. Just the way German soldier is not a Nazi and blame-less for exterminating the jews in WW, the armed forces are ALSO blameless because all they are doing is their job. Just the way a lawyer defends a criminal. If you have to make a movie, then the onus is on you as a film maker, to show the truth, at ALL costs. Because you have this medium. You weild a power. You cannot afford to spread mis-information or show lop-sided, colored world view based on your personal bias. A journo reporting news, HAD to be very unbiased. Tomorrow, if a film maker makes a movie, where all the Kashmiri muslims are shown as terrorists, I will be as vociferous in my views!!

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        • >Obviously NONE of your people (relatives) were in armed forces

          I’m a daughter of an Air force officer and find it ridiculous that one has to worship the armed forces.

          If they did something wrong, don’t hide it. Look at the ex gen.V. K. Singh courtmartialed and found guilty of malpractices.
          Why is there a court martial if military personell don’t ever do anything wrong?

          You didn’t answer about the various army men dying at the border almost on a daily basis with firing from PAK . Or is the sympathy ONLY for those who died in Kashmir?
          Because there of course one gets to cry foul over the other religion.

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          • of course going by that logic one wonders what authorizes Di to say anything about Muslims! Or even liberal Hindus! So on and so forth. If it’s really about having direct personal experience of everything Di shouldn’t be saying a word on anything!

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        • I was addressing to Q. But thx you two for jumping in. The soldier fighting, dying for the country, just his motivations, are not corrupt. There may be corruption at high level. There are muslims soldiers too who might have died in fighting Kashmir militants. There are layers to this….and ManMohan Desai would have made a ‘simplistic’ movie which would have all these layers. Not VB.

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    • It’s pretty appalling that so many of the discussions on Kashmir degenerate into a “contest” between Kashmiri Pandits and others (this isn’t the only such instance; we see it all over the world in these “binary” conflicts, conflicts that ideologues insist on reducing to binaries) — it’s a sign of the times that rather than focusing on every atrocity (the displacement of the Pandits or any other), we prefer to think of such cruelties in terms of equations and arithmetic; almost as if a particular group wouldn’t have any claim to our sympathy unless they could advance some such math.

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      • Q: you refuse to see the big picture. You refuse the see the entire history. It is not just about Kashmiri Pandits, or armed forces or this movie. It is 1000s of yrs of history and not about winning this argument on a blog site. And not just India. You have to be honest with your self. You can bomb, behead, terrorise, make lop-sided movies, call people speaking truth “repellant” but you can’t change the history and the truth of what happened!!!

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        • How long are you going to cry over thousands of years.
          You live in US, I guess. How about crying for the American Indians whose history goes back thousands of years.

          This is the most annoying and dangerous thing – never letting the past go but clinging to it so that they can bash the present with it. Sick.

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      • “It’s pretty appalling…”
        You CANNOT talk about Kashmir without Kashmiri Pandits. Period.

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  30. Incidentally, anyone who has done business with the Indian military knows very well that the Army ( and the navy and the Air Force) is among the most corrupt institutions in the country.

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  31. “Affleck went on to say that “we’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us, by an awful lot,” and argued that the Islamic State group “couldn’t fill a double-A ballpark in Charleston, West Virginia,” his wife Jennifer Garner’s hometown.”

    http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/ben-affleck-defends-muslims-on-us-tv-talk-show-602966?pfrom=home-topstories

    And what if the film is lop-sided. It is not a joint parliamentary committee report. Who stops you from making your film which is not lopsided? Rumoured intellectual deficiency? Or because there is nothing really to make a film on or write a book about? Or the truth that will come out in such a book or film will be inconvenient?

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    • “Who stops you from making your film which is not lopsided?”
      And in free country that I live in, nothing stops me from criticizing it either, Utkal

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  32. Ok guys there’s been enough politics on this thread. I think we’ve heard all kinds of opinions. Let’s move away from this stuff now because it gets never-ending beyond a point. Not once has anything else about the film been discussed here!

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  33. Hope we are wise enough not to let this degenerate into a rabid anti Muslim rant. That would be unfortunate and unfair to reasonable elements on both sides of political divide.
    Communalism from both sides is to be unequivocally castigated and resisted.

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  34. Di: “And in free country that I live in, nothing stops me from criticizing it either, Utkal” Of course not! Otherwise I won’t have been responding to you as patiently as I have been doing. But as I said, I am really curious , why one of the many whom I hear carping endlessly why the film maker has not shown the plight of the Kashmiri pandits, haven’t made a film, or written a book on the issue? Intellectual deficiency? Inconvenient truth? I am just curious.

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    • Utkal: I’m not sure that is a fair response; I might not have the talent or opportunity to make a film, but that doesn’t de-legitimise the critique I offer of a film.

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    • There are books written by Kashmiri Pandits/ Some of them are journalists. You should have had time to read it or know about it. There are famous Kashmiri hindu writers too, who have written, about what happened. Just that people like VB, like B.Peer’s writing more and more sympathy towards them.

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    • ” I am really curious , why one of the many whom I hear carping endlessly why the film maker has not shown the plight of the Kashmiri pandits, haven’t made a film, or written a book on the issue? Intellectual deficiency? Inconvenient truth? ”

      Cmon Utkal, that is hitting below the belt. R u really going to claim that the ethnic cleansing of 300k Pandits was a sham? There are have been several books written by Kashmiri Pandits, that describe their holocaust in detail. Many interviews, Many refugee camps in North India that bear testament to the fact. Lets not belittle their already miserable experience for the sake of a film.

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  35. How would be “Haider” be in Manmohan Desai world view? First of all there wouldn’t be just one Haider. There would be three babies. They were all born from a Kashmiri Pandit mother. But when she was escaping those militants, one got left behind in hiding place, that was a mosque. The other was left in Kabrstan. He walked to get water and it happened to be a church and got adopted there and was raised by the nuns. The baby of the trio remained with the mother and grew up in Delhi. Of course there would be scenes of blood transfusion as well somewhere in the movie.
    Hari, Harry, Hamid.
    THAT is the beauty of MD vs VB.
    Now you know how a truly ‘secular’ person would make a movie!!! Truth or Satyam is such a complicated thing and yet it is so simple. It unites. It generates love.
    🙂

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    • but why does Desai love Anthony and Akbar more than he loves Amar? I’ve never ever met a single viewer of the film or heard of one who actually came away liking Amar more than those two! Wonder how that happened..

      of course the Right today is hardly a fan of Nehru or Desai in any sense. They quite dislike the AAA view of the world. They see it as part of the problem. Everything that you’re describing here as beautiful is what you yourself reject and attack everywhere else. And of course it’s always humorous to hear extremists indulge in their extremism but expect ‘true secularism’ from the other side! You’d be perfectly at home in a party with Muslim extremists, Christian extremists, Jewish extremists and so on. All of you have the very same goal, the very same complaints, the very same sense of victimhood, the very same facts (just change the names, the formulas are identical) etc. And I have been unlucky enough to get into debates with certainly some of these groups where I was more or less arguing the same stuff because those on the other side whether they called themselves Muslims or Hindus were also speaking from the same script!

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      • “I’ve never ever met a single viewer of the film or heard of one who actually came away liking Amar more than those two! Wonder how that happened..”
        It is all in the acting beta. No one can hold candle to bigb. Had he been Amar, we all would come out falling in love with Amar!!!

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        • The way Q (and everyone else from people here on this blog and reviewers too) fell for Tabu, who is the bigb of VB’s Haider!

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        • What about Akbar? Also why didn’t Desai give the best actor the Amar role?

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          • It is unimportant in larger discussion however since I like you, I will indulge you a bit. If bigb was given Amar’s role, people would have fallen in love with Amar’s character and people would have called MD names and said he had hindu-bias. Therefore he gave Vinod Khanna Amar’s role. And personally I find Vinod Khanna very very very HOT. 🙂

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      • “You’d be perfectly at home in a party with Muslim extremists, Christian extremists, Jewish extremists and so on.”
        Chalo, for a moment,I would accept this. If you accept that VB could have made a proper/better movie where all the ‘extremists’ could have hugged, cried and wiped each other’s tears and moved forward in relationships, with love and peace.

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        • > VB could have made a proper/better movie where all the ‘extremists’ could have hugged, cried and wiped each other’s tears and moved forward in relationships, with love and peace.

          Extremists don’t do that. If they did the world’s problems would be solved. There would be no morematerial left for VB or anyone else to make films write books etc

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