‘Haider’ irks both Hindu and Muslim hardliners

Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’, adopted from Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Hamlet’ was released on 2nd October. The film maker has used the mid-1990’s strife torn Kashmir as the setting for the film. The film while may not be a hundred crore blockbuster but has posted a profit and received huge critical appreciation from the critics as well as audiences who has watched the film.

The performances of Shahid Kapoor in the lead role and Tabu were especially praised. However, it was expected that since it is set in a politically unstable Kashmir, it would create some controversy. Before the release, news began circulating that Jammu and Kashmir’s chief minister Omar Abdullah was unhappy with the film, although he later rubbished the rumours.

But after the release, the amount of controversy seemed to be greater than initially expected. The film has somehow managed to upset hardliners from both the Hindu and Muslim community. Some Hindu groups and even a section of the public accused the film of portraying the Indian army in a bad light and showing sympathy to terrorists and separatists. The reason is that the film has scenes where the army is seen torturing civilians. There was even a call for #BoycottHaider on Twitter. However many people defended the film by speaking about freedom of expression. Bhardwaj himself said, "I'm also an Indian, I'm also a patriot, I also love my nation. So I won't do anything which is anti-national. But what is anti-human, I will definitely comment on it." on 7th October, an organization of Kashmiri pundits held a protest against the shooting of the song ‘Bismil’ in the famous sun temple in Awantipora. A group called Hindu Front for Justice has filed a PIL in Allahabad high court seeking a ban on the film. The court has asked the director, producer and the Censor board to file replies.

Across the spectrum, an Imam from Srinagar was asked to leave his mosque and return to his village after he was seen appearing in the film for three seconds. Some people from his community claimed that it was against Islam that an Imam should appear in a film. Despite the controversy, the fact remains that the land of Kashmir has seen too much bloodshed and suffering and everyone involved in the situation should go for peace. Luckily, dissent against the film has been limited and most of the audience has embraced it gladly.