Blue Collar (1978): A reminder that a classless society is still a far-fetched dream

A wonderful essay on Paul Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978) by Kanak Mishra

Cafe Dissensus Everyday


By Kanak Mishra

“Cinema is the greatest mirror of humanity’s struggle. You see this alternative world, but you’re a part of it. Everybody is a part of it. This is our world.” – Lav Diaz

At the heart of any artistic expression (including cinema) is our constant struggle with our own political biases and the realities of cultural discourse. The movie Blue Collar, set in 1978, is directed by Paul Schrader, an American director, screenwriter, and critic. In one of his most famous interviews, Schrader said, “I didn’t set out to make a left-wing film. While I was working on the script, I realized that it had come to a definite Marxist conclusion.” Along with Marxist underpinnings of labour-relations, some other underlying themes in the movie are union corruption, government’s sly attempts to delegitimize union efforts, class-consciousness, and race.

The movie starts with the classical scene of machinery whirring…

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Zee Classic celebrates the best of ‘Musical Entertainer’ Nasir Hussain this January


The legendary producer- director, Nasir Hussain has given Indian audiences hit after hit. The man known to be the founder of the Indian masala film did not just set a trend but paved a path for commercial Indian cinema as it stands today. With movies like Yaadon Ki Baaraat, TeesirManzil, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin or even his magnum opus Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, this visionary producer – director used the formula of great music + high impact drama + star power to catapult his movies to become major box-office successes and winning him the title of ‘Musical Entertainer’.

Born on 16th November, 1926, Nasir Hussain’s has had a career that spans over five decades in which he has brought entertaining, dramatic and path breaking movies to the silver-screen. With several superhit films to his credit, Nasir Hussain had seldom created a movie that has failed to impress. Celebrating his journey in the industry, Zee Classic, with its proposition Woh Zamana Kare Deewana, has curated over a month-long series of Nasir Hussain’s greatest hits under the banner ‘Nasir Hussain Film Festival’. This series that airs every Sunday at 12 noon, starting 7th January; will take viewers on a journey highlighting his long and illustrious career.


Nasir Hussain was the father of Mansoor Khan, uncle of Aamir Khan and grand-father of Imran Khan. Although the ‘Musical Entertainer’ is no longer with us, his movies still live on.

The ‘Nasir Hussain Film Festival’ will kick off with his debut formula film ‘Yaadon Ki Baaraat’ starring Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman as the main leads. Combining elements of action, drama, romance, musical, crime and thriller, this iconic movie became the first of what we now consider truly Bollywood-esque movies. This movie was also the start to an extremely profitable relationship between Nasir Hussain and R.D Burman and features classic melodies like Chura Liya Hai Tum Ne Jo DIl Ko, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil and of course the title track Yaadon Ki Baarat.Yaadon Ki Baarat was not just Nasir Hussain’s debut film, it was also the debut film for Aamir Khan who has risen to be one of the biggest actor-producers of the country.

Next in line is the 1977 Super-hit Hum Kisise Kum Nahin starring Rishi Kapoor, Kaajal Kiran, Tariq Khan, Amjad Khan, Zeenat Aman, Om Shivpuri, Jalal Agha and Tom Alter. This movie features songs by veteran singers Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle including Bachna Ae Haseeno, Yeh Ladka Hai Allah Kaisa Hai,  Hai Agar Dushman (Hum Kisi Se KumNahi) and Mil Gaya Hum KoSaathi to name a few. While the music of Mamamia was used as the inspiration for Mil Gaya Hum Ko Saathi, ABBA’s Honey Honey also features in the movie and can be seen playing in the background just before the song ‘Kya Hua TeraWaada’ begins.

Teesri Manzil, another box office success and features prominently amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films by Indiatimes Movies. The movie starring Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh, along with Premnath, Prem Chopra and Helen. The movie once again underscores Nasir Hussain’s title as the musical entertainer with 70’s pop classics like Oh Mere Sona Re Sona Re and O HaseenaZulfonwaliJaaneJahan. Salim Khan prolific screen writer and Salman Khan’s father, plays a cameo role as Shammi Kapoor’s musician friend who pretends to be Rocky in the musical number ‘Oh Haseena Zulfon Waali’.

Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai was Padmini Kolhapure’s debut movie and featured Rishi Kapoor as the main lead. The music of the movie, composed by Rahul Dev (R.D.) Burman features evergreen hits like Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka, Hoga Tumse Pyaara Kaun and Poocho Na Yaar Kya Hua amongst others. While Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka was one of the lesser known hits from the movie, it became a rage in the late 80’s and 90’s as a very futuristic electro / techno hit.

No tribute to Nasir Hussain would be complete without featuring his magnum opus – the 1988 release Qayamat Se QayamatTak. This cult classic propelled the lead pair Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla to superstars overnight. Each song from the movie be it Papa KehteHai, Ae Mere Humsafar, AkeleHai to Kya GhumHai or GazabKaHai Din resonate deeply and became 80’s iconic hits that have been references in movies even today. The iconic Papa Kehte Hai has featured in more than three movies besides the original including Hum Saath Saath Hai, Andaz ApnaApna and Student of the Year.

One could go one forever reminiscing the memories that Nasir Hussain movies invoke, however why waste time when we can watch the best from the best and relive those memories.

‘Nasir Hussain Film Festival’  Date Time
Yaadon Ki Baarat 07-Jan 12 noon
Hum KisiseKumNaheen 14-Jan 12 noon
Teesri Manzil 21-Jan 12 noon
ZamaneKoDikhana Hai 28-Jan 12 noon
Qayamat Se QayamatTak 04-Feb 12 noon
Manzil Manzil 11-Feb 12 noon

To entertain viewers with unheard stories of Nasir Hussian and enhance their movie-viewing experience, Zee Classic has also curated special features revolving around the life of the legendary filmmaker. It includes views of stalwarts of Indian cinema like Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar, Juhi Chawla, Ayesha Jhulka, Prem Chopra, DalipTahil, and Lalit Pandit amongst others. These special features along with additional exclusive interviews will be showcased during the telecast of movies on Zee Classic.

Actress Juhi Chawla who shot to fame with Nasir Hussain’s classic, Qayamat Se QayamatTaksaid, “I met Nasir sir for the first time when he invited me to his office for Qayamat Se QayamatTak. To me Nasir Hussain was a very big name at that time, he made grand films and the music was always amazing, so I didn’t question him and signed the contract. Nasir sir took a big decision of producing a film with new actors, new musicians and songs that were very different from those people heard during the time of Qayamat Se QayamatTak. The movie had some magic in it.

Actor DalipTahil, “I am very fortunate to have worked with Nasir Hussain at the beginning of my Bollywood journey which was a good break for me and transformed my career completely. Nasir Hussain had written the story of Qayamat Se QayamatTak himself and he was confident that it will impress the audience. It is because of the content that the movie performed exceptionally well and is now termed as a classic. He considered every nitty-gritty of the movie like the romance and dialogue delivery and blended it so beautifully, the movie seemed picture perfect,” shared his thoughts.

Reminising some of the actor’s great work, writer Salim Khan said, “I have a lot of respect for him as filmmaker, director, and producer. He is the first person to give love stories a comic twist and made highly entertaining movies. Prior to that romantic actors had a tragic appearance. It was always a pleasure to work with Nasir Hussain and as a writer himself; he would understand what I was trying to say. He also had a good sense of humour and his strength was incorporating that sense of humor in his work and movies. The best movie of Nasir Hussain according to me is Yaadon Ki Baaraat and he would say the same himself.

Watch ‘Nasir Hussain Film Festival’ starting 7th January, every Sunday at 12 noon only on Zee Classic.

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Mass Comm Students of Jamia Millia Islamia Photograph Surajkund Crafts Mela


A dancing troupe posing just before the performance

Anwar Jamal Kidwai Mass Communication Research Center (AJK MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia has been ranked as the best institute for mass communication and journalism in India since the past four consecutive years starting 2013. The famed institute is the alma mater of the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Kiran Rao and Kabir Khan. The institute greatly benefits from its highly experienced faculty and its rigorous course structure that’s bolstered by a practical oriented approach to go with the dedicated class room teaching.


A stilt walker capturing everybody’s attention

The institution organizes frequent visits/tours for the students which allows them to apply their newly gained knowledge in the real world. Outdoor photo shoots are a regular feature for the students with photography major. The coveted course is headed by the legendary Indian photographer and media expert Prof. Farhat Basir Khan who is widely regarded as the father of modern Photography and Mass education in India.


Prof. Farhat Basir Khan Profile Pic smaller-1..jpg

Prof. F.B.Khan


Prof. Khan is famous for his campaigns for Grey, Lintas, Leo Burnett, Atlas, Oberoi Maidens, Avis, Grasim and Delhi Police. He has contributed to various international projects such as the One World programme for UNICEF delegates on Unspooling the Documentary Process and for institutes such as MIT, Russian Film School and Harvard Business School. Prof. Khan has also been instrumental to the shaping of the course curriculum at the prestigious AJK MCRC institute.


A flute player enchanting the crowd’s sense

As part of the first assignment the students with photography majors were required to photograph the Surajkund International Crafts Mela in all its candor and glory. The students had to shoot using the Nikon D 7200 cameras with zoom lens (18-105 mm) issued by the institute specially for the assignment. The course structure requires the students to start with the classic Nikon FM2/F3 film cameras and they slowly graduate to the more advance cameras with each exercise. The stakes increase with each assignment with the final AV Feature carrying the maximum weight-age.


A charming performer at the Surajkund International Art Mela

The Surajkund experience proved to be a real eye opener for the students who were required to strictly abide the guidelines laid by Prof. Khan. The auto modes are forbidden as Prof. Khan feels that when it comes to professional photography the auto feature is practically of no use. Another restriction on the students is to shoot in the raw format which allows maximum scope for post processing of the images as oppose to the run-of-the-mill .jpeg format.


Prof. Farhat Basir Khan (second from left) with AJK MCRC photography students

Even after a day long shoot the students appeared far from exhausted with Prof. Khan egging them on to go for an additional round of shoot. That’s the kind of persistence, patience and perseverance that the photography students of AJK MCRC are expected to show. After all, the very institute has produced some of the county’s leading photographers. Here it is worth mentioning that under the guidance of Prof. Khan, MCRC students Neal Kartik and Pranab Kumar Aich won the prestigious ‘Student Focus Competition’ at Sony World Photography Awards 2009, Cannes. Jamia’s team achieved the feat by defeating 60 of the world’s best universities across continents and bagged a cash prize of whopping 50,000 Euros.

Image Courtesy: Murtaza Ali 

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The ebbs and flows of cricket

Shane Watson facing a Wahab Riaz bouncer

When the Australian all rounder Shane Watson was dropped against the match against Afghanistan on the 4th of March, everyone thought his ODI career was over… Watson himself seemed to have accepted his fate.

In an impromptu press conference, he had said: “I haven’t scored enough runs, as simple as it is. In the end all I can do is make sure I’m ready to go if an opportunity arises, but I know I haven’t scored enough runs so I’ve only got myself to blame.”

On the 8th of March, Watson made a shocking return to team for the match against Sri Lanka and made a quickfire 60 odd after being demoted to the number 6 spot, and although his innings was totally overshadowed by Glen Maxwell, who scored a 51 ball century, it was enough to keep his place in the team for the time being. Against Scotland, he once again got out cheaply trying to finish off the match quickly.

Another failure and he would have once again put his place in serious jeopardy. In the quarter final match against Pakistan, he came out to bat at number 5, ahead of Glen Maxwell, when Team Australia was in real trouble with Wahab Riaz already having picked two quick wickets, that of David Warner and Michael Clarke. Earlier in the day when Wahab was out to bat and was facing the music in form of Mitchell Stark bowling at 150 KMPH, Watson had a few pleasantries to exchange with the clueless batsman. But, as they say, fast bowlers have a sharp memory. Wahab obviously hadn’t forgotten it and he went berserk and unleashed a fury of bouncers at Watson who to his credit looked quite determined to see his side through. It was a relentless assault. But with some luck (he got dropped by the the fielder at fine leg when he was on 4), he managed to see Wahab off and eventually took his team to the semi finals. Watson remained unbeaten on 64 off 66 deliveries but what the scoreboard didn’t show was his iron resolve to not only silence his critics but also secure a berth in the semis for his team. What he truly exhibited was the famous Aussie grit!

But, the party was spoiled by the ICC. When every cricket lover was praising Watson and Riaz for their gritty display of cricketing brilliance, ICC decided to charge them both for breaching the Code of Conduct. No wonder why cricket is no longer played with the same passion and fervor. For, it is the ICC that doesn’t want to promote such fiery brand of cricket. Aggression doesn’t always mean name calling and there appeared no name calling in the battle between Watson and Riaz. The two even embraced each other at the end of the match and each was full of praise for the other. So, how can governing body expect cricketers to play the sport with all their heart and soul and yet be devoid of emotions at the same time? Perhaps, they should either ban fast bowling or try and get all the fast bowlers lobotomized before allowing them to play international cricket!

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Why I feel that New Zealand is the team to beat in this World Cup

New Zealand Cricket, BlackcapsI feel that NZ will make it to the finals but winning the final could be a little tough (whether it’s against India or Australia) as it’s gonna take place at the MCG (outside New Zealand). But, as someone who has been following New Zealand cricket very closely for last one year or so, I can tell you that they are the team to beat. For, theirs is the most balanced side in this World Cup thanks to the luxury of having someone like Daniel Vettori bat at number 8 (he has six Test Centuries to his credit and knows how to get quickfire runs or finish off close chases). His left arm spin can pose a serious treat to anyone for he is really good at changing his pace and has a lethal arm ball with which he has outfox many a batsman.

At the top they have Brendon McCullum who can tear any attack apart on his day and now that Martin Guptil is back in form the opening combination looks quite formidable. Kane Williamson at number 3 has been scoring truckloads of runs for the last couple of years (against India in 2013 he was unstoppable… a series that India lost 4-0). Ross Taylor has been a bit out of touch off late but he is a big match player and can change gears pretty quickly to the opposition’s dismay. Grant Elliott is hitting the ball really well and has to game to play in the middle overs as well as at the death.

Corey Anderson is the big hitter who can easily clear boundaries during powerplay and at the death. His left arm fast medium pace bowling is a great asset to this Kiwi lineup. Luke Ronchi, their wicket keeper, is quite aggressive in his batting approach and only recently scored an unbeaten 170 against SL, batting at number 7 which is a world record. Their bowling is spearheaded by Trent Boult (well mentored by Shane Bond) who can be a menace with the ball, bowling at 145 clicks regularly and the left arm pacer is equally deadly with both new and old balls.

Tim Southee is a very good swing bowler and provides perfect foil for Boult (though he doesn’t have the pace of Boult, with the new ball he can ball at above 140 without much difficulty). Though, he can go for runs sometimes early on, he has a knack for picking wickets in his second and third spells. Not to mention, he can hit the ball long, if needed at number 9. Then there is the young Adam Milne who, IMHO, is the most threatening first change bowler in the world. Bowling at 150 clicks is no big deal for him. He is also quite accurate and can hit the deck hard and is well capable of beating the batsman with his pace and bounce. He, in many says, is Trent Boult’s right arm equivalent.

All this makes New Zealand the team to beat, whether playing in small grounds or big grounds.

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Birdman (2014): The Expected Virtue of Unrestrained Brilliance

Birdman Poster

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar nominated film Birdman, aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is a departure from the contemporary style of filmmaking. Iñárritu uses a technique that gives an illusion as if the entire film were shot in a single extended take. Birdman’s strong albeit bizarre dialogue and impeccable slapstick timing on one hand hark back to the works of the American screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, particularly Glengarry Glen Ross, while on the other, it strongly reminds of the films like Barton Fink and The Player in that it deglamorizes Hollywood while exposing its hypocrisies.

The movie tells the story of a washed up Hollywood actor—once famous for playing an iconic superhero called “Birdman”—as he battles both his inner demons and outer enemies in a desperate attempt to reinvent himself as a Broadway director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”.

Birdman offers a nice blend of realism, surrealism and magic realism. Vintage Iñárritu, Birdman doesn’t feed any definitive answers but rather allows the viewers to engage at their own intellectual planes. While the entire cast puts up a brilliant show, Michael Keaton and Edward Norton deserve special mention for their sublime performances. For Norton, Birdman marks a return to form. As to Keaton, he delivers a performance so emphatic and complete that it can be easily described as the performance of the decade. One wonders what kept him from unleashing himself on the celluloid all these years. A must watch!

For more on the world of cinema, please visit my film blog “A Potpourri of Vestiges“.

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Europe Holidays

Europe Travel Destinations, Travel and Tours, Honeymoon Destinations

Are you about to get married and are looking for honeymoon destinations? Are planning for an adventure trip with your friends? It has been a long rough week at work and you have been working way too hard to meet those deadlines and targets. A long weekend is coming or you are looking at taking a break from work and go some place, alone or with friends or family, where you could stay away from the corporate routine and just enjoy to the fullest. It is always refreshing and welcome to start, after a break. It imparts you positive energy and pushes you to work smarter. Weekends are a way to give you, a chance to relax and recharge yourself for upcoming tasks in the next week and it would be no less than a treat to yourself if you plan it properly, a time well enjoyed is like an icing on the cake.

No doubts you must be bothering to find a good place to visit, and moreover a perfect plan to cover maximum of what the place has to offer. Europe has emerged as a favourite holiday destinations these days, with a plethora of places to visit in its countries. Be it Rome, Istanbul, London, Prague, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam, every place has its own attractions to enjoy. While you are excited about your trip, it is also a devil’s task at hand to check out and finalize the places, manage everything etc. Travel and tours offer you the best of travel packages for visiting Europe, customized to your time and budget requirements be it honeymoon in Greece or romantic Switzerland. Nonetheless to say, it would take quite a while to appreciate the beauty and history associated with each place but owing to shortage of time, it is a preference to take a tour of famous spots. We understand your needs and we assist you in planning the same. We have multiple offers to choose from, ranging from month long planners to one week or even a few days stay. Travel and tours also offer various combo offers which can make your trip easier as you can even pre-book hotels for your stay. This will help you the unnecessary hassle when you arrive there tired and wary of looking for places to stay that are affordable in your budget. We have our services associated with cabs too, which also can be pre-booked and that can take you to the desired places utilizing your time the best, thereby facilitating you to make the necessary arrangements even before you reach there. Not only for tourists, Travel and tours also offer you to plan your business trips and can help you in arranging official meetings, customized to even include a few travel plans in your scheduled time.

Apart from these packages, we also assist you in getting your passport and visa applications and interviews done in time. These services come inclusive of the travel packages we offer. Travel and tours is committed towards making your holiday a lifetime experience with safety and comfort ensured together. Go ahead and book an international honeymoon for you and your special one.

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A terrible personal experience that made me realize how big private hospitals trick people through their manipulative practices

Today, I had a terrible experience at the Saket City Hospital‘s Emergency facility. It being a Sunday, the hospital’s OPD facility was not available. The duty doctor at the Emergency facility tricked me into taking a very expensive Dengue Test despite my repeated telling that I had no symptoms associated with the dengue fever. All I had was body-ache and mild fever. The hospital staff made me lie on a bed for more than half an hour for no rhyme or reason. After a considerable wait an attendant finally came to take note of my pulse, bp, and temperature. And even though my temperature came out to be normal (around 98 degrees), the duty doctor prescribed a series of blood tests to be done. In the meantime, one of the staff members filled my papers (while still not allowing me to get up from the bed… insisting that I must take rest, again to my amusement).

At last I forced my way to the reception in great frustration wherein the cashier told me that my bill (tests as well as consultation fees) totaled around INR 5500. Obviously, I got the shock of my life. When I looked at the bill I noticed that the Dengue Test alone cost me more than INR 3000. When I objected the cashier told me that everything has already been processed and it can’t be undone. He asked me to pay the amount through card or cash. I wasn’t left with any option but to comply. However, the entire episode shook me badly. It also showed me the dark side of the medical profession in a developing county like ours. I wondered how these big private hospitals would trick poor and illiterate patients when they could easily bilk an educated youth like myself. I left the hospital premises feeling cheated and utterly disappointed and frustrated at the same time.

I sincerely hope that the concerned government departments/ministries would become sensitized in the near future and would come up with stringent guidelines and transparent complaint channels so as to keep a check on such manipulative practices in private hospitals across India.

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A Potpourri of Vestiges: Haider (2014): Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s final chapter in Shakespeare trilogy

Haider is the latest offering from the renowned Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj. Co-written by Basharat Peer and Bhardwaj himself, Haider is the third and final chapter in Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare trilogy. Having already made successful adaptations of Macbeth (Maqbool, 2003) and Othello (Omkara, 2006), Bhardwaj was left with the choice of adapting either King Lear or Hamlet to complete his trilogy. He opted for the latter because of the presence of a strong sexual undercurrent in the source material—a motif that harks back to the first two films of the trilogy. While Haider stars Shahid Kapoor in the eponymous role, Tabu portrays the role of his mother (modeled upon Hamlet’s mother Gertrude) and Kay Kay Menon essays the role of his uncle (modeled upon Claudius who, in the play, murders his own brother and Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, and subsequently usurps the throne, marrying Gertrude). The role of Haider’s lover is played by Shraddha Kapoor (based on Ophelia’s character in Hamlet). Irrfan Khan, who had essayed the titular role in Maqbool, makes a cameo appearance. Haider’s support cast includes renowned character actors like Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ashish Vidyarthi, Narendra Jha, Lalit Parimoo, and Aamir Bashir.

The uncanny choice of Kashmir of the 1990s—a treacherous avenue of unparalleled beauty and unfathomable danger where people just disappear, never to return again—as the movie’s backdrop proves to be a stroke of pure genius as it helps Bhardwaj in orchestrating an enchanting mise-en-scène that elevates an otherwise sprawling orgy of histrionics (what else can one possibly say of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet?) to the realms of realism. While the exquisite end product that’s on offer here succeeds in capturing the essence of the Bard’s haunting saga of love, revenge and madness, it doesn’t, not even for a second, seem to be missing Bharadwaj’s signature earthy style, which further adds to the movie’s verisimilitude. While Haider is mostly true to Hamlet in essence, there is one striking contrast. While the latter depicts vengeance as the only means left for redemption, the former, despite glorifying the human desire for revenge, ultimately preaches forgiveness as the path to eternal salvation. It is also one of the underlining differences between the Western and the Eastern philosophies.

By the mid-1990s, Kashmir had taken the form of a like a spewing volcano, a ticking time bomb ready to go kablooey at any given moment. The terrorist insurgency in the Kashmir valley had started to pose a serious threat to India’s sovereignty and the army had to be given a carte blanche so as to guard the country against any possible threat from both within and as well as outside the country. The people of Kashmir started seeing the growing military activity in the region as a violation of their basic rights. The separatist leaders saw this as a golden opportunity to galvanize the masses against the state and started adding fuel to fire as the valley got encompassed in a miasma of mistrust. Although, the situation has improved significantly over the last decade, a lot of work still needs to be done before the conflict can be fully resolved. Nonetheless, Haider, which is completely filmed in Kashmir, ends up doing some serious marketing for the 21st century Kashmir, which is slowly returning to its pristine, blissful state. Bhardwaj’s film also leaves a strong message not only for people of Kashmir but for all humanity that nothing can be gained through revenge and in the absence of trust.

Adapting a work of Shakespeare is no kid’s play. Even the most experienced campaigners can falter if their ambition gets the better of them. The key to adapting any major work of literature is to be wary of one’s limitations. Haider is far from being called a perfect adaptation of Hamlet. But, Bhardwaj, to his credit, gets the job done. There are moments of sheer brilliance but there is also a lot of drivel which could have easily been chopped off. Haider has all the makings of an epic but it faces some serious pacing issues towards the second half. Also, the narrative appears to be sketchy at some places. But, that’s the price that one must be willing to pay for one’s ambition. Perhaps, succumbing to one’s creative urges is more important to an artist than to seek perfection. 

One of the main themes of Hamlet is chaos. This chaos is most evident in the play’s central character who, in many ways, is a personification of confusion and duality. His highly complex, fascinating albeit bizarre nature makes him a singular character in all literature, endowed with contradictory traits that fade the lines that separate virtue and vice, heroism and villainy, and sanity and madness. In Haider, we get to see shades of their previous collaboration, Kaminey (2009), as Vishal Bharadwaj and Shahid Kapoor grapple with the endless contradictions that define Hamlet’s multidimensional character. Although, Kapoor appears to be struggling at some places, he manages to stretch beyond his normal thresholds, and it’s heartening to see that his efforts don’t go unrewarded.

Oedipus complex is another major theme that runs through Hamlet. Coined by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, the term Oedipus complex denotes the subconscious emotions and ideas that focus upon a child’s desire to have sexual relations with the parent of the opposite sex. In Haider, as one expects from a filmmaker whose target audience is primarily conservative, the syndrome is both latent and nuanced in comparison to the play wherein the Prince’s attraction towards his mother can be interpreted at both physical and psychological levels. While a lesser filmmaker could have easily botched it up, Bhardwaj still manages to pull it off neither appearing too direct nor too cryptic. And, its efficacy is testified by the fact that after having watched the movie, one just can’t help but wonder what was it that haunted Haider more:  His father’s death or his mother’s closeness to his uncle?

Haider not only serves as a decent adaptation of Hamlet, but it also proves to be a powerful socio-political commentary on Kashmir of the 1990s. Without the Kashmir angle, Haider would have appeared more empty and existential, with the Shakespearean characters merely playing their parts in a bid to reach the end of the trail. But, with Kashmir as its backdrop, it almost comes across as a propaganda films that aims to serve as a bitter reminder of our not too distant past. This critic is reminded of Salman Rushdie’s 2005 novel, Shalimar the Clown, which presents the heart-breaking tale of a naïve Kashmiri tightrope artist who ends up as a cold-blooded assassin after coming in contact with terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Like Rushdie’s novel, Haider is a warning of how easily the youngsters can be brainwashed and led astray by anti-national elements if the state machinery fails to look after them.

While the acting is brilliant all around, it is Tabu who steals the show with a multilayered portrayal that would have guaranteed her an Oscar had Haider been a Hollywood production. Here she shows a range that very few actresses have demonstrated in Hindi cinema. In fact, her performance is so complete and thorough that one just can’t have enough of her. Shahid Kapoor’s performance in Haider is not perfect but is easily the best of his career, and it comes as no big surprise as Bhardwaj has a reputation to get the best out of his actors. Kay Kay Menon plays his detestable part with the desperation of a mangy scoundrel. Menon’s impressive performance reminds this critic of Rod Steiger’s remarkable turn in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965). Shraddha Kapoor serves well as an eye candy, but, beyond that, not much can be said of her acting. Irrfan Khan is brilliant as ever in the limited screen time that he gets. While the entire support cast does a reasonable job, Narendra Jha, who impresses in the role of Haider’s father, deserves a special mention.

Overall, Haider is a dark, distorted and diabolical work of cinematic art that falls well short of attaining perfection. At regular intervals, Bhardwaj tries to lighten up the mood perhaps to satisfy the cravings of the casual viewers. First, he pays homage to the Bollywood heartthrob Salman Khan in such an ostentatious manner that would have looked cheesy even in a typical Bollywood flick. As if it were not enough, he purposefully makes his characters to repeatedly mispronounce a Hebrew word “chutzpah” (pronounced huuts-pah) for creative reasons. Then he takes a swipe at the inability of Kashmiris to pronounce certain English words correctly. Needless to say, the movie is technically brilliant: cinematography (it beautifully captures Kashmir’s poetic beauty), editing, and music are all at par with the international standards.  The movie has several memorable sequences but the ones that stand out are: Shahid Kapoor’s monologue, the sequence in which Haider brutally kills his captors (a scene which is highly reminiscent of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A Short Film About Killing), and the final graveyard sequence which may prove to be a real trendsetter as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. Haider is not meant for casual viewers for it will test their patience to the limit. As far as the intelligent viewers are concerned, the movie offers enough food for thought to keep them engaged. Highly recommended!

Here’s the link to the original article:

A Potpourri of Vestiges: Haider (2014): Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s final chapter in Shakespeare trilogy.

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Western Film Festival (25th – 27th September 2014) – Celebrating the World Tourism Day at American Center Auditorium

American Center, in collaboration with Cinedarbar, is organizing ‘World Tourism Day’ and ‘Western Film Festival’ from 25th -27th September 2014 at the American Center Auditorium, 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi – 110001. As the name suggests, the three day film festival will celebrate Western genre as a theme and will screen as many as six classic Westerns viz. ‘High Noon’, ‘The Searchers’, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘The Wild Bunch’ and ‘Unforgiven’.

For schedule and other details, please refer to the original article (the link for the same is given below):

A Potpourri of Vestiges: Western Film Festival (25th – 27th September 2014) – Celebrating the World Tourism Day at American Center Auditorium.

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