Hyder – To Rank or not to Rank

shahid-shraddha

If Shakespear’s Hamlet gave us the famous dialogue “to be or not to be- that’s the question”, the dialogue – “Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai” from the movie  Haider haunts me time and again. True to this dialogue – ‘Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai’, which has been used in the movie a number of times by various characters,  Vishal Bharadwaj has given a different perspective of the situation in Kasmir. Even though the movie is an adaptation of Shakespear’s drama Hamlet, there is nothing ‘English’ about. In other words, it was hard to find any trace of Hollywood in it.  Contrast the movie with many of the commercially successful Bollywood movies released during the last two years. Many of these movies borrowed heavily from Hollywood, even theme by theme and scene by scene. I expected Amir Khan starrer Dhoom 3 to be something different, but was disappointed. For major part, the movie reminded me of “The prestige”.

In addition to just the right casting, director Vishal Bharadwaj has brought out the best of not only the lead actors like Shahid Kapoor, Taboo, Kay Kay and Shradha Kapoor, but also the actors in smaller roles and cameos. The director himself declares the movie to be his best movie so far and a masterpiece. And a masterpiece it is, in terms of cinematic art.

Barring one  colourful sequence that provides a cheerful backdrop for the  meeting of mother and son, for most part of the movie, the white backdrop provided by the snow fall contrasts with the grim reminder of impending disasters. Murders, betrayals, compromises and the overall atmosphere of distrust overshadows the pristine scenic enchantments of the valley. The movie evokes this unfortunate confluence of contrasts. Gone are the days when, enchanted by the beauty of Kashmir, the  poet could declare, “If there is any heaven, it is here, it is here, it is here”. The poet in Haider could only discover the hell that the modern day Kashmir has turned out to be and wonder whether ‘to be or not to be’ in such a situation.

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Those who have lived in Kashmir would relate with the nuances of the movie better. The director and the actors have brought out in an in-offensive manner the typical way of English and Hindi pronunciation by the natives of Kashmir – school as shakool, chance as chaanas, bhai as bai and so on.

Contrary to the Shakespearean saying – “All is well that ends well’, the movie does not end in an optimistic note. But, it could not have been more befitting. Haider walking into uncertainty amidst gory pictures of violence, is an apt representation of  the current situation in Kashmir.

While the movie has been highly acclaimed by the critics and connoisseurs, another movie that was released on the same day crossed the 200 crore mark in record time. At a time when, with utter disregard to the artistic value, Bollywood movies are ranked  by the crores they have raked in, where would a movie like Haider fit in? Should it be ranked and compared with the contemporary releases? Or, may be, it would be better to put it in a class of its own.

(The article was originally written two days after the release of the movie )

The lunatic, the lover and the poet, are of imagination all compact

bauls

“The lunatic, the lover and the poet, are of imagination all compact.”

The statement appears in Shakespear’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Somebody who does not confirm to our logical mind, we call him/her mad. Love is beyond logic. So is poetry. Love is so much beyond logic, some say love is blind. So one factor common among premi, paagal and kavi is that none can be understood or judged by our logical minds.

Take the example of the Bauls of Bengal – a group of wandering mystical singers. Baul has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vaatul’ which means the mad person. They are some of the greatest lovers – lovers of life, lovers of human values and lovers of divinity in us, which are expressed through their enchanting songs.

One thing common in all three is their wild imagination. They may see things that do not exist and may create something out of nothing.

According to some versions of the stories about Laila and Majnu, Laila was so ugly people wondered what made Majnu maddeningly fall in love with Laila. May be, he saw things in her that others missed.

It seems these type of people do not care for the world. To the contrary, these are the people who make the world a beautiful place to live in. Take the example of the Bauls. They never accumulated wealth for themselves or their family. They incessantly travel from place to place to sing the song of humanity, urging people to rise above petty differences of religion, caste, creed and other man made divisions. So have been the great poets. In fact another name give for the ancient seers (rishis) of India is kavi – the poet. And what beautiful poetry they created in the form of Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. In fact these are the people who laid the foundation of Indian Civilization.

Of course there are also mad people without any love or poetry in them. They are filled with hatred, fanaticism. The world has much to fear from these kind of mad people, who do not have any iota of love in their hearts. Or, their love for a particular imaginary cause has been distorted into hatred for those whom they consider not belonging to them.

These fringe elements are killing the poets and the lovers. The Sufis, who like Bauls can be said to be lunatics, lover and poets at the same time, continue to face prosecution and extinction in Pakistan and elsewhere by the radical elements. In recent times even the Bauls in India have been targets of fanatic Hindu and Muslim Groups in Indian and Bangladesh.

Now coming to the dialogue of Theseus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, scene I, here it is:

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend

More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover and the poet

Are of imagination all compact:

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,

That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,

Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:

The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.