Haider is not for you if you if you are looking for a thriller, it is not for you if you are looking for a political potboiler, it is not for you if you are looking for action with Kalashnikovs, it is not for you if you are looking for a logical and just plot, it is not for you if you are looking for black and white. Performances in Haider will not impress you if you believe, given the plot, histrionics and loud outbursts take an act to great heights, they will not impress you if you, again, are looking for the black and the white.
Haider is about restraint. That and poetry. Restraint is in Shahid Kapoor holding back tears. Restraint is in Shraddha Kapoor not going over the top in her love or concern. Restraint is in Kay Kay Menon not screaming away in acts of negativity. Restraint then is epitomized in the whole act of Tabu. Remember it might be easy to scream and punch, to shoot and scoot, to revel in grandiosity; but it might not be to restrain.
The poetry of the movie is in the brooding background score, the shots of snow clad Kashmir, the monologues, the dialogues, the acting and the offbeat scenes. Arguably Shahid Kapoors best performances till date is a heady mix of various emotions. The transformation from a PhD scholar to a crushing-skull-with-stone killer and through emotional roller coaster is noteworthy. The monologue at Lal Chowk and Bismil choreography stands out. The lesser said about Menon and Tabu the better. Finest performances in a long time. Unlike majority of Bollywood movies, the actors stick to the accent throughout which is appreciable.
The first half paints the strife torn state and the plight of its people in a way that would sadden every Indian. One will sit up and think what it would be like to have endless curfews and parade with Indian passport for identity. Adhering to Shakespearean comic reliefs, there are few acts that makes the theater laugh. And in such mirth is intertwined deep hurtful concepts. Case in point the rhyming of Chutzpah and AFSPA.
This is one movie which is not for the traditional entertainment seeking audience. It is not the shot of alcohol that will give you an instant high, it is like fine scotch whose effect will grow on you. A movie that a movie lover can watch much more than once.
Vishal Bhardwaj, in his trilogy, paints Hamlet in such a manner that the nuances of the plot in the end loses itself, only the performances remain. And that is all that one can ever wish for; for then a mere act becomes eternal.