HAIDER – Vishal Bhardwaj

Original Review by Alan RogersHaider

Indian director Vishal Bhardwaj’s 2014 film, Haider, is an adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy, Hamlet. The story’s setting is transferred from the Royal Court of Denmark to the insurgency-hit Kashmir conflicts of the mid-1990s. Upon receiving word that his father has gone missing, poet Haider returns home to find that security forces have detained his father for harbouring militant fighters. The acclaimed film then follows Haider as he seeks revenge on those responsible for his father’s situation whilst, at the same time, becoming reluctantly involved in the politics of the region. In addition to film direction, Vishal Bhardwaj is also a prolific composer who has scored all of his most recent films. As well as penning the music for a number of songs for the film, Bhardwaj has written a tense score for a relatively small musical ensemble featuring piano, strings and rhythmic percussion elements infused with subtle regional instrumentation and ghostly female vocals. Together, the score’s various parts deliver a powerful experience that may concentrate more on the anxiety and unease of the plot than on the action, but which is surprisingly fresh due to the subdued use of the ethnic orchestrations. [Read more…]