An album of angst..and love

Vishal Bharadwaj may possibly be the most low profile creative genius Bollywood may have, overshadowed only by the technical brilliance that A. R. Rahman displays. The quirkiness of Amit Trivedi. And maybe silenced by the nasal din of Himesh Reshammiya.  While AR’s music has nuances in instrumentation and arrangement that makes you go wide-eyed in jaw dropping cerebral amazement, the former’s music tugs you at your innards. With a simplicity of melody that transports you into an unexplainable world of joy, anger, sadness or love – all combined, deep inside your heart. And you do not quite know which emotion to put your finger on, and go “yay, that is what I feel”. It is like a puzzle you are trying to decode by listening to the song over and over, finding little nooks and corners that seem to hold your hand and walk you through in a gentle sway. All the while telling you, ” it is alright, you can feel whatever you want to”. And this is exactly what makes me feel when I listen to Haider’s songs – possibly his best so far; skilfully adapting Kashmiri strains into the music of a very modern version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that captures the brooding, dark, passionate and intensely complex backdrop there is. Haider Having watched the movie after listening to the music gets you to place the emotions in a context. Although you do not see the “movie version” of the aggressive and angry Aao Na (sung by Vishal Dadlani), the heavy guitar riffs of the song during key moments in the movie are thrilling enough. While taming a beast of a play that is Hamlet, is itself a daunting and ambitious project, depicting the complexity of the main characters is something that requires a very strong heart and a sharp mind. As an audience, you feel the confusion, angst and love all rolled into one from the eyes of Haider, and that is ably supported by the background score that just haunts you long after you leave the movie hall – coupled with the brooding hues of the paradise, that isn’t – Kashmir. There is a horrifying insanity that prevails in the characters you see, in a place where you have always imagined the colours of spring and the waltzing blues of the lakes. In the midst of all that, you have a Khul Kabhi (Sung by Arijit Singh, and my personal favourite) that transports you into a lilting world of love, warm passion, and mystifyingly poignant. And then it harks back to Haider’s reality when he breaks into tears. And talks about his existential conundrums given his father’s disappearance and his own confusions of which truth to believe in – or the lie to disbelieve in – Hum Hain, Ke Hum Nahin Hain – Haider’s version of “To Be, or not to be”. And that confusion runs throughout the movie so much so, that every other character remains open to interpretation. Some of the other songs such as Bismil (sung by Sukhwinder Singh) weave right into the screenplay and strike a much harsher chord in the movie than when you just listen to it. Shahid Kapur’s acting and dramatic skills are on ample display in this song. The movie does seem a little disjointed in parts. It is slightly choppy, but one cannot fault Vishal Bharadwaj for taking on this intensely complicated plot and transform it into Haider that is powerful, brooding, thrilling and ambitious. At the heart of it all is the love between a passionate, complex woman who seeks just a sliver of heaven in her life, and her son whose love for her (displayed in quite daring sexual undertones) is consumed only by his hatred for her for betraying his father. And yet in the end, it is this woman who loves, longs and ultimately loses everything; leaving Haider to fight his own demons – exact revenge or liberate himself from consuming this poison. Go into the hall expecting a problematic movie to understand and analyse. But watch it for the same reason. And then switch on the music in your car on the way home.