Vishal Bhardwaj’s trilogy of Shakespearean tragedies was completed with the release of
, inspired by Hamlet, on Friday.
Reportedly a film punched with power, it narrates Kashmir’s tumultuous story of political upheaval through Shahid Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, Tabu and Sharaddha Kapoor.
Set in 1995 at the height of insurgency in the state, Haider follows Kapoor, an Aligarh student, who reaches Kashmir only to see his mother Ghazala (Tabu) in the arms of his uncle Khurram (Menon) weeks after her husband and another son have been whisked away by the army.
Haider is all the more upset when he finds out that his mother and uncle had desperately wanted the father out of the way. Baying for revenge, Haider soon becomes a pawn in the hands of different political organisations fighting for power.
Vishal Bhardwaj is undoubtedly obsessed with the Bard of Avon. He once said that Shakespeare had always fascinated him, for his plays were timeless and not bound by geographical lines. But the helmer’s real talent and strength lay in adapting Shakespeare’s works to Indian situations and milieu in ways that were most remarkable.
Who could have ever thought that Macbeth would transform itself into Bhardwaj’s Maqbool with Irrfan Khan, Pankaj Kapur and Tabu portraying some of the immortal characters of the Elizabethan play – but living in Mumbai and eventually perishing in the treachery of the underworld.
And who would have believed that Othello would translate so effortlessly into Omkara – set not in Venice, but in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh with Ajay Devgn essaying the black military general. Saif Ali Khan as the wicked Iago or Ishwar Langda Tyagi was just brilliant.
So, it was no surprise when Omkara screening in an open air theatre during the 2006 Marrakech International Film Festival attracted almost hysteric applause from the hundreds of men and women who had gathered there to watch the movie.
Coming back to Haider, it ends differently from Hamlet. While Shakespeare was writing about an aspect of history that had come to a conclusion, Bharadwaj tells us the tale of a land whose story is far from over.