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Haider (film)

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Haider (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj
Produced by Vishal Bhardwaj
Siddharth Roy Kapoor
Written by Basharat Peer
Vishal Bhardwaj
Based on Hamlet 
by William Shakespeare
Starring Shahid Kapoor
Shraddha Kapoor
Kay Kay Menon
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj
Cinematography Pankaj Kumar
Edited by Aarif Sheikh
Distributed by UTV Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • 2 October 2014 (2014-10-02)
Running time
162 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 240 million (US$3.6 million)[1]
Box office 690 million (US$10 million)[2]

Haider is a 2014 Indian crime drama film directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, and co-written by Basharat Peer and Bhardwaj. It stars Shahid Kapoor as the titular protagonist, and co-stars Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon. Irrfan Khan appears in an extended special appearance. The film is a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, set amidst the insurgency-hit Kashmir conflicts of 1995 and civilian disappearances.[3] Haider, a young student and a poet, returns to Kashmir at the peak of the conflict to seek answers about his father's disappearance and ends up being tugged into the politics of the state.[4]

Haider is the third installment of Bhardwaj's Shakespearean trilogy after Maqbool (2003) and Omkara (2006).[5] The film was screened at the 19th Busan International Film Festival,[6] and released worldwide on 2 October 2014 to wide critical acclaim, and garnered attention from the media due to its controversial subject matter.[4] The direction, performances of Kay Kay Menon, Tabu and Shahid Kapoor, screenplay, film score and editing received praise and garnered several accolades.

Haider was the first Indian film to win the People's Choice Award at the Rome Film Festival.[4][7] Among several awards and nominations in India, the film won five National Film Awards: Best Male Playback Singer, Best Dialogue, Best choreography, Best Costume Design, and Best Music Direction.


In 1995, during the Kashmir conflict, Hilaal Meer, a doctor, agrees to perform an appendectomy on the leader of a pro-separatist group. To avoid detection, he performs the surgery at his house, much to the chagrin of his wife Ghazala, who questions his allegiance. The following day, during a military raid, Hilaal is accused of harbouring terrorists. A shootout ensues at his home, during which the leader of the separatist group is killed and Hilaal is taken away for questioning. The doctor's house is bombed subsequently to kill any other militant hiding inside. Several days later, Hilaal and Ghazala's son, Haider, returns from his university to seek answers about his father's disappearance. Upon arrival, he is shocked to find his mother singing and laughing along with her brother-in-law, Khurram. Unable to understand his mother's behaviour, he begins searching for his father in various police stations and detention camps with the help of his fiancee Arshia, a journalist.

Saddened by the growing closeness between Ghazala and Khurram, and unable to find any leads, Haider begins to lose hope. However, Arshia encounters a stranger, Roohdar, who asks her to inform Haider that he will be able to provide information about Hilaal. Haider contacts Roohdar, who turns out to be part of a separatist group. Roohdar then narrates the story of how he met Hilaal in one of the detention centers, where they both were tortured. Hilaal attributes his imprisonment to his brother, Khurram. Roohdaar tells Haider that he simply wanted to pass on his father's message to him: revenge for Khurram's betrayal. Thereafter, angry and swearing to avenge the injustice done to his father, Haider becomes mentally and emotionally shattered and starts to behave and act strangely. Khurram, after learning of the meeting between Haider and Roohdar, tells him that Roohdar was the one who killed his father. Haider is now confused as to who to believe and discloses his dilemma to Arshia, adding that Roohdar gave him a gun to kill his uncle. Arshia confides this to her father who informs Khurram about the gun. Khurram immediately orders his men to send Haider to a mental institution.

The following morning, Haider is all set to kill his uncle but cannot accomplish it because his uncle is offering prayers. Haider is captured by Arshia's father who orders to kill him but Haider manages to escape. He contacts Roohdar, who suggests getting trained in Pakistan to avenge his father's death and Haider agrees. He calls his mother and informs her about it to which she asks him to meet her once before going to the other side of Indo-Pakistani border. During the meeting, Ghazala discloses that she had told Khurram about the terrorists hiding in their house not knowing that he was an informer of the Indian army. Arshia's father traces them and is about to shoot Haider when Haider shoots him dead and escapes.

Tormented by her father's death at the hands of Haider, Arshia is deeply hurt and commits suicide. Meanwhile, Ghazala finds Roohdar's contact number from Arshia's diary and calls him. Haider goes to his pickup point, i.e. the graveyard where his father was buried. At the graveyard, Haider contemplates about the universal nature of mortality. On seeing Arshia's brother in the graveyard, he realises that the corpse is of Arshia. He runs towards her body where her brother sees him and informs Khurram. A fight ensues between Haider and Arshia's brother, resulting in the latter's death. Khurram arrives with full force and a gunfight ensues; meanwhile Roohdar drops Ghazala at the graveyard. A fierce exchange of bullets and bombs leaves only Haider and few men on Khurram's side alive. Just when Khurram is about to kill Haider, Ghazala pleads for a chance to convince Haider to surrender. She confronts her son who says that he cannot die before avenging his father's death. Ghazala tells him that revenge only results in revenge and there is no end to this cycle, but Haider, who is bent on revenge, does not understand. Ghazala kisses Haider, steps outside, only to reveal that she is wearing a suicide vest. Khurram and Haider rush towards her but she pulls the pins of the hand grenade resulting in a big explosion causing the death of the rest of the men and Khurram being gravely injured. Haider goes to his mother's remains, weeps by her side and goes to kill Khurram. He is reminded of his mother's words that "revenge only results in revenge" and thus decides to let Khurram live. Khurram begs Haider to kill him to free him from the burden of guilt and to avenge his father's death but Haider doesn't oblige and leaves.


Actor Role Based on
Shahid Kapoor Haider[8] Prince Hamlet
Shraddha Kapoor Arshia Lone[9] Ophelia
Tabu Ghazala Meer Gertrude
Narendra Jha Dr. Hilal Meer King Hamlet
Irrfan Khan Roohdaar[10] Ghost (Hamlet)
Kay Kay Menon Khurram Meer[11] Claudius
Kulbhushan Kharbanda Hussain Meer n/a
Lalit Parimoo Pervez Lone Polonius
Ashish Vidyarthi Brigadier T. S. Murthy[12] n/a
Aamir Bashir Liyaqat Lone Laertes
Sumit Kaul (Salman 1) Courtier Rosencrantz
Rajat Bhagat (Salman 2) Courtier Guildenstern
Ashwath Bhatt Zahoor Hussain Fortinbras



Initially, Vishal Bhardwaj and Shahid Kapoor were in talks of making a sequel to their blockbuster film, Kaminey (2009).[13] The project was put on hold and a new project with Kapoor in the lead was confirmed, titled as Haider, which was reportedly based on an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet.[14] The adaptation was made to portray the political intrigue and history of Kashmir as well as the play's sexual conflicts.[15] Bhardwaj was initially developing the play as a contemporary espionage thriller with author Stephen Alter.[16] They wrote a 30-page synopsis that was sent to Gulzar. Though Gulzar liked the synopsis but enquired Bhardwaj of the missing tragedy of Hamlet in the penned thriller. The synopsis had incomplete details about the life, authenticity and Official Secrets Act of RAW agents.[16] On his return to India, Bharadwaj's wife Rekha Bhardwaj was reading Basharat Peer's memoir, Curfewed Night, a book based on life in violence-wracked Kashmir. His wife was deeply moved after reading the book. Bharadwaj didn't immediately read the book but was aware about its content. Later, Bhardwaj desired to change the synopsis. Remembering Basharat's book, he contacted him and they started the work.[16] Bhardwaj quoted importance of Basharat in the film as, "If Basharat was not a part of the film, Haider wouldn't be made or it wouldn't be made this way."[16] The film is Peer's first film project. On co-scripting the same, he stated that writing Curfewed Night was a response to caricatures of Kashmiris in Indian political writing whereas he wrote Haider in the same spirit, with the same feeling with Bhardwaj.[17] Bhardwaj and he agonised a lot over the soliloquies required. There were sections of the To be, or not to be speech that was translated directly in Hindi. Due to constraints of time they had to omit the Apparel maketh a man soliloquy though.[17] They retained and translated the section where "Hamlet" meets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and speaks about Denmark being in prison. Further, new soliloquies were created to convey "Hamlet"'s madness and the veiled political satire in it.[17] This was brought in when "Haider" with his head shaved, dressed in torn, shabby clothes rants on a traffic roundabout in Srinagar and apart from a few senseless jokes, reads out the bare act of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.[17] Apart from this, Peer explained that an adaptation doesn't exactly follow the original, like the part of Fortinbras was barely there in Haider. The world of King Claudius and Polonius is portrayed as the counter-insurgency and government-run, counter-insurgent militias in Haider and thematically dominates the action.[17]

As per the story of the book Hamlet, an Oedipus complex exists that draws "Hamlet" (played by Shahid Kapoor) towards his mother "Gertrude" (played by Tabu) that could have been interpreted both at a physical and psychological level, however, Bhardwaj kept this reference subtle as the target audience was predominantly Indian and called it 'one of the aspects in this mother-son relationship.' In his previous outing of Othello's adaptation, Omkara (2006), he removed the last monologue due to the fact that it was more suited for a stage play sequence but retained that type of monologue for Haider. Shahid Kapoor learnt a six-page monologue for the climatic scene where his character "Haider" turns mad. He put forth the delivery of that monologue in front of a crowd of 5000 listening. For filming the scene, which was done in 3–4 hours, Shahid Kapoor was made completely bald.[18]

Sumit Kaul, who played the character of one of the Salmans, was involved in training the Kashmiri accent of actress Tabu apart from lead actors Shahid and Shraddha. His portions of filming were canned in fifteen days, however, he was with the team for two and a half months in Kashmir. He taught the nuances of the language especially when it translates into English or Hindi.

Kaul also helped actress Tabu get the enunciation when she sang the folk song "Roshe Valle" that was a part of the film score. [19]

"Ghazala is torn between her idealistic husband, opportunistic brother-in-law, and her innocent and passionate son. Somewhere she feels she has the responsibility to keep everything in control but obviously she can't. Her love for her son is crazy. She is always trying to protect him from being misled and misguided. He (Bhardwaj) cast me as Shahid's mother because he wanted the oddity of the relationship to come out which wouldn't have come across with a regular aged mother and son combination. Haider shares a love/hate relationship with Ghazala but it's a very passionate emotion. You almost feel odd that these two are mom and son. Haider's predicament is that he doesn't know what to do with his mother—whether to love her, hate her, believe her, or kill her."
— Actress Tabu who plays the character "Ghazala", in an interview with The Indian Express.[20]

Kapoor, along with Bhardwaj and UTV Motion Pictures, each have a 33.3% share in the film. The budget for the film is 390 million (US$5.9 million) taking into account 240 million (US$3.6 million)[1] spent into the production of the film and 150 million (US$2.3 million) for promotions.[21]

Dolly Ahluwalia has designed costumes for the film. She began working by creating Kashmiri designs of costumes in Delhi. When Vishal Bhardwaj and his film's cinematographer were doing a recce in the valley of Kashmir, she was there to share her creative vision with him. She took her sketches and swatches there.[22] After that, she returned to Delhi and continued with her work there. Instead of picking up costumes easily available in bazaars of Kashmir, she designed the phirans for Shahid Kapoor, hijabs and head scarves for both Shraddha Kapoor and Tabu.[22] Ahluwalia was quoted saying, "Somewhere along the way her husband disappears and she marries his brother who is wealthier than him and this change in marital status is explained through richer colors and fabrics."[22] She added that her real challenge was exploring the psyche of the character "Haider" through colors, textures and cuts. The signs of madness in his character are depicted through the in the pom-poms in his cap during the track "Bismil" that is a manifestation of the traditional folk dance Dumhal of the Kashmiri valley performed by Wattal tribes.[22] For the costumes seen in climax portions, she was quoted saying, "Against that white snow backdrop I stuck to black and reds to bring out the cold of the human mind through the cold snow and the death of romance in blood red hues."[22]


Haider was shot in two parts. The first schedule was in November–December 2013 and then next in January–February 2014. Keeping the weather conditions in consideration, the first part of the film is shot in Autumn-Winter and the second part featuring intense drama and action sequences under snow. The entire filming was completed in 54 days.[23]

Principal photography began at Dal lake in November 2013.[24] Haider was filmed at Pahalgam, Kehribal area in Anantnag, Mattan, Aishan Sahab Zaina Kadal Bridge in old Srinagar, Nishat Bagh, Dal Lake, Qazigund, Martand Sun Temple, Naseem Bagh (at Kashmir University Garden), Hazratbal and Sonamarg, all of which are located in Jammu and Kashmir[25][26][27] Bhardwaj was forced to pack up after a group of Kashmir University students disrupted shooting of a sequence of a Fedayeen attack which was being canned at the University of Kashmir at Hazratbal.[28] The students objected to the hoisting of the national flag atop a makeshift bunker. A few students objected to the shooting of a few scenes and started "pro-freedom" slogans, dismantling the stage. The youngsters also forced them out of the shooting location in Naseem Bagh (Kashmir University Garden) despite heavy security, claiming that they had no idea about the shoot happening on that location.[29][30] Students of University raised also objection to Irrfan Khan when he was spotted smoking inside the campus.[31] The last schedule of filming for 'Haider' began in Kashmir in January 2014.[32][33][34][35] For the song "Bismil" that was shot at Martand Sun Temple in Kashmir, Shahid Kapoor was quoted saying, "It is one of the best shot songs of my career. The location, the elements like face paint to depict war situations, have been used in 'Bismil'. Then there are 100 feet tall puppets, which I have never seen in any song before."[36] For the choreography Bhardwaj was very keen that Shahid's character didn't have any dance movements that Shahid did in his previous films as it was required for the character's angst and feelings. Bhardwaj recruited a Norway-based choreographer for the choreography of this track.[36] The shooting of the film was also halted briefly for a second time in Zainakadal in Srinagar in January 2014, when a spectator threw coal towards the actors.[37][38] Filming was completed by 24 February 2014.[39]


After 41 cuts, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) gave the film U/A certificate.[40] The scenes that were censored were a truck load of corpses, wire being inserted inside a naked man, a shot of a bloody dead body, abusive words.[40] Apart from this, a shot of a bare back during the song "Khul Kabhi To" was also considered offensive and censored. The Central Board of Film Certification demanded deletion of a scene where "Haider" (played by Shahid Kapoor) cries on seeing flames.[40] A confusion arose when Kumar along with an examining committee saw the film and prescribed the cuts. After the film was re-edited, instead of sending it to the revising committee for reviewing, Kumar himself watched the film again and gave it a U/A certificate.[40] Nandini Sardesai, a member of the revising committee told The Times of India that Kumar saw Haider twice and passed it with a U/A certificate. She stated that director of the film Vishal Bhardwaj had apparently agreed to the cuts. Later, Bhardwaj clarified that the CBFC only demanded seven cuts but gave his film 35 extra cuts in order to make the script look more realistic.[40] Bhardwaj added that since the film is set in Kashmir and given the associated troubled politics of the state, he knew the film would land in controversies.[40]

The controversy over film's plot, analysts stated that India has become more open to sensitive subjects.[41] Dr. Zakir Hussain, a senior analyst at the Indian Council of World Affairs was quoted saying, "As democratic traditions strengthen in the country, more and more such movies will be made and people will be educated. Haider is the first step in that direction." Director Bhardwaj faced criticism over the depiction of the armed forces in an allegedly unfair way as the film also portrayed scenes of torture in Indian army camps and abuse of human rights by Indian officials.[4] To this portrayal, Indian Twitter users, filled with sentiments brought up hashtagging of words "#BoycottHaider" that generated estimate 75,000 tweets since the film release. In reply to this criticism, people on twitter started trending #HaiderTrueCinema which trended for 2 days and this caused #BoycottHaider to be withdrawn from the list of trending Topics on Twitter.[42]


The original songs and film score are composed by Vishal Bhardwaj. The soundtrack has nine songs whose lyrics are penned by Gulzar, except for two songs "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare" and "Aaj Ke Naam" that were written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor launched the music of the film along with Vishal Bhardwaj at Radio Mirchi studios in Mumbai by mid-August 2014.[43] The soundtrack had a digital as well as physical release on 15 September 2014. The film score was digitally released on 2 October 2014.[44]

Critical reception

The film received mostly positive reviews worldwide. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 6 professional critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.7 out of 10.[45] On Metacritic, the film has a "universal acclaim" with rating of 88 based on 14 ratings.[46]


Writing for [50] Critic Subhash K. Jha with immense praise felt, "Haider is a beast that just won't be tamed by regular cinematic definitions. There is flamboyance and subtlety, both at once in the treatment. Elegance and earthiness rub shoulders in the execution of what is regarded as one of Shakespeare's most complex tragedies. Above all, there are the performances – towering, luminous actors craning their collective creative necks into the director's vision, to give it mesmerising magical spin. Mr Bhardwaj's third Shakespearean sojourn is his best yet. Haider is like a painting viewed from the road inside an art gallery. The vision is distant yet vivid, layered life-like and yet exquisitely poetic."[51]

Critic Raja Sen of [59]Aaj Tak has published a review of the movie by an Indian Army Officer that analyses the movie from a soldier's standpoint. He claims this movie has anti-India pro-Separatist tone which portrays Indian Army in bad light.[60]


Mike McHill of the [63] Writing for Digital Spy, Priya Joshi praised the movie, calling it a 'masterclass in film-making and performance' and 'an exemplary cinema and a work of great artistic merit.' She added, "Shahid Kapoor is a standard-bearer for a generation."[64] Suprateek Chatterjee of the Firstpost praised performances of Shahid Kapoor and Tabu thereby calling Vishal Bharadwaj's film 'best movie so far'.[65] Praising the key aspects of the movie, critic Manjusha Radhakrishnan for Gulf News writes, "Everything about Haider is subtle: including the undertones of the infamous sexual tension between mother and son. Tabu and Kapoor surrender themselves completely to their roles and are endearingly uninhibited. The pace is never hurried, so be a bit patient and give these superbly talented actors a chance. Just like the cinematography that captures Kashmir’s rugged beauty, Haider will wow you with its raw appeal."[66] On writing for Emirates 24/7, Sneha May Francis opined, "Haider does appear a little over indulgent, but considering Vishal had such a Herculean task at hand, it's just a small price to pay for good cinema. Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet gets a sinfully delightful adaptation by master filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj".[67] Ryan Gilbey based at New Statesman claimed, "The idea of a Bollywood Hamlet throws up all manner of preconceptions. But Haider transpires to be a far less irreverent interpretation than, say, the 2000 US version in which Ethan Hawke delivered the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from the "Action" section of Blockbuster Video. Bhardwaj relocates the action to Kashmir in the mid-1990s. If the graft doesn't quite take, it's because the film is so persuasive in portraying the oppression of the Kashmiri people that the woes of Hamlet seem small beer."[68]

Box office

Haider collected 583 million (US$8.8 million) from domestic screens after third week and was declared a hit by various sites like indicine & success by the Box Office India .[69]


The film was released in nearly 1250 screens all over India where it collected 61.4 million (US$930,000) on its release date (Thursday).[70] The collections showed 14% rise pulling up collections to 69.3 million (US$1.0 million) on first Friday and made a cumulative business of 131 million (US$2.0 million) in two days of its release at the Indian box office.[71] It collected 63.8 million (US$960,000) on first Saturday of release.[72] In the opening three days, the film earned 194 million (US$2.9 million).


Taking into account the first weekend post its release, the film earned US$375,000 ($375,000 in 2016) in the US. The previews on Thursday, a day prior to release date were US$41,000 ($41,000 in 2016). Collections on subsequent two days were US$138,000 ($138,000 in 2016) on Friday and US$200,000 ($200,000 in 2016) on Saturday. In AGC areas, the film collected US$320,000 ($320,000 in 2016) during first three days of release. The collections in UK for the same days were US$94,000 ($94,000 in 2016). The film churned a cumulative $1 million in the three days, overseas.[73]

Awards and nominations


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  36. ^ a b Haider song Bismil was challenging for Shahid The Hindu Retrieved. 21 August 2014
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  40. ^ a b c d e f
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  43. ^ Shahid, Shraddha launch music of 'Haider' in Mumbai Yahoo!. Retrieved. 21 August 2014
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  47. ^ Haider: Beyond the line of control The Hindu. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  48. ^ Movie review CNN-IBN. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  49. ^ Movie review: Haider Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  50. ^ Movie review: Haider Koimoi. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  51. ^
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  53. ^
  54. ^ Movie review: Haider is a film you should not miss India Today. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  55. ^ 'Haider'review: Vishal Bhardwaj's eulogy to Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' Zee News. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  56. ^
  57. ^ Movie review Hindustan Times. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  58. ^ Movie Review: Haider Filmfare. Retrieved. 8 October 2014
  59. ^ Haider review: Fails to fully keep you with it The Indian Express. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  60. ^ A Soldier Reviews Haider Movie
  61. ^ Fails to fully keep you with it The Guardian. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  62. ^ Haider’ Puts an Indian Twist on ‘Hamlet’ The New York Times. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  63. ^ 'Haider': Film Review The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  64. ^ Haider review Digital Spy. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  65. ^ Haider review Firstpost. Retrieved. 3 October 2014
  66. ^ Film review Haider Gulf News. Retrieved. 4 October 2014
  67. ^ Bollywood review- Shahid Kapoor lends a menacing agony to the sinful ‘Haider’ Emirates 24/7. Retrieved. 4 October 2014
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ Haider: Day 1 (Thursday) Box Office Collections Retrieved. Koimoi. 6 October 2014
  71. ^ Haider Picks Up On Day 2 (1st Friday) At The Box Office Retrieved. Koimoi. 6 October 2014
  72. ^ Haider Has A Good Run On Day 3 (1st Saturday) At The Box Office Retrieved. Koimoi. 6 October 2014
  73. ^ Haider’s 1st Weekend Overseas Box Office Collections Retrieved. Koimoi. 6 October 2014

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