As if the CBFC’s 42 cuts weren’t enough, even less of the movie Haider by Vishal Bhardwaj will be seen by the public because of Twitter’s new #BoycottHaider trend, which marks a new paradigm of Indian audiences’ unwillingness to watch good movies made in India. Bang Bang wins, unfortunately.
As soon as I discovered this trend yesterday, the Streisand Effect kicked in, and I wanted to see this movie, even if it meant I would have to sacrifice sleep and watch the only show when the sun was shining at 10:00 AM. As I type, I still feel the sleep debt crushing my ability to stay awake.
The movie blew me away. It was an incredibly well directed, well acted, and well shot movie that, despite being an adaptation of Hamlet, shone through with its originality. Most film critics who thankfully didn’t have a rock of nationalism in lieu of a brain recognized the work of art Haider was. But no, Twitter just wants to be offended. It burned with envy at Tumblr and decided to try and join its ranks.
The main arguments for this nonsensical trend are that it doesn’t portray Kashmiri Pandits and glorifies the separatists in the state, while demeaning the Indian Army.
Nobody criticized Hamlet for its excessive portrayal of royalty and its low focus on the poor and the common masses. This was because the story was not about the poor and the common masses; it was about Hamlet. The same goes here. Kashmiri Pandits don’t need to be “addressed”, as if this was supposed to be a non-biased thesis on the historic tensions in the area. This is a story about betrayal and revenge, and is ultimately a tragedy.
As for the army, it is not an exaggeration to say that save for the excessive interrogation techniques, (which is not exactly new in Bollywood) they were just doing their job, no matter how much of a villain that major looks like.
Haider is a story about characters who are all inherently flawed in some way or another, and Kashmir is not the story; Kashmir is the setting. When you adapt a story about corruption and avarice, you can’t exactly have a utopia for a setting. The film claims no authenticity about the situation in Kashmir, and rightly so. It is not a political critique, it is a film, and a damn good one at that.
If you derive your opinion about Kashmiri politics, historical demographic change, and military situation from Haider, you should actually stay away from the movie. If you expect others to be swayed by the movie, well, you’re being condescending. Don’t tell others to not eat a cake because you think it tastes funny.
Support Vishal Bhardwaj and all the wonderful people involved in this film by buying tickets and going to watch the film. This is a film that deserves place in the mainstream, and deserves eyes on the screen. Its message may be misinterpreted by many who probably haven’t even watched it, but don’t let stupidity-fueled hatred make you miss out on a theatrical experience that you will regret for not having been a part of when the torrent comes out.
(Picture: UTV Films)
This article originally appeared in Campus Diaries as “Why You Shouldn’t #BoycottHaider: Or: How Twitter Completely Missed The Point”.