Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why haider Does Not Work For Me

I actually wanted to watch haider, but I decided to give it a miss. That's fine, don't need to be able to lay eggs to know how to make an omelette (just as you don't need to know shit about Hinduism—the religion, the way of life, call it what you will—to make seemingly-erudite posts on 33 crores deities on social networking sites). Similarly, one can comment knowledgeably on a movie based on 35 years of movie-watching experience without actually seeing it.

As a film, haider is possibly quite good. When he adapts Shakespearean tragedies, vishal bhardwaj actually does a good job (at other times, he just makes esoteric shit like matru ki bijlee ka mandola, which is what he makes most of the time). Apart from the gripping narrative Bill had written 400 years ago, haider boasts of some of today's finest artistes like Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, and Shahid Kapur. But a good film is not the same as a blatant political statement filled with...well, lies.

The most flagrant of the lies in haider is the one that chooses to ignore/discredit/label as a myth the genocide of the Kashmiri Pundits and their subsequent exodus from the state. It is as much a truth as was the genocide of the Sikhs back in 1984, and an even bigger one than either that or the much-abused Godhra incident—which, as many are loathe to recall, was triggered by the Sabarmati Express Massacre. But then, this is not surprising coming from a man who wrote an open letter to the citizens of India repeatedly urging them to not vote for a certain candidate (who need not be named here) in this year's LS polls so that the "secular" and "liberal" fabric of the Indian society could be maintained.

Much has already been said and written about the film's merits, which are many, and demerits, which are probably even more, though I still maintain that haider simply as a film is, probably, quite good and watchable. I do not wish to spend too much time and energy on this, but for those who are interested, here is some good reading material:
Just a small question to bhardwaj: "Sir, would you have the same guts to show someone dancing to the chant of 'Ram Ram' on the steps of babri masjid just like you showed someone dancing to the chant of 'bismil bismil' on the steps of the Martand Sun Temple? And would you make a film based on 'Our Moon Has Blood Clots'?"

And yes, that bit—a dance number picturized on the ruins of a once-revered, brutally-desecrated temple—did hurt. Quite badly too.