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LAW, LITERATURE AND FILMS PROJECT

HAIDER A CRITICAL
ANALYSIS

Submitted By: ABHAY SHARMA


12/B.A.LLB/026

HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PLOT
SUMMARY.....................................................................................................................................3
DEPICTION OF LAW AND LAWYERS......................................................................................................5
GENDER ROLES....................................................................................................................................7
PORTRAYAL OF POLITICS....................................................................................................................8

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HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

PLOT SUMMARY

In 1995, during the Kashmir conflict, Hilaal Meer, a doctor agrees to perform an appendicitis
operation on the leader of a pro-separatist group. To avoid detection, he performs the operation at his
house, much to the chagrin of his wife Ghazala, who questions his allegiance. The next day, during a
military raid, Hilaal Meer is accused of harbouring terrorists. A shootout ensues at his home, during
which the leader of the separatist group is killed and Hilaal is taken away for questioning. The
doctor's house is bombed subsequently in order to kill any other militant hiding in there. Several days
later, Hilaal and Ghazala's son, Haider, returns from his university to seek answers about his father's
disappearance. Upon arrival, he is shocked to find his mother singing and laughing along with her
brother-in-law Khurram. Unable to understand his mother's behaviour, he begins searching for his
father in various police stations and detention camps with the help of his fiance Arshia, a journalist.
Depressed by the growing closeness between Ghazala and Khurram, and unable to find any
leads, Haider begins to lose hope. However, Arshia encounters a stranger, Roohdar, who asks her to
inform Haider that he will be able to provide information about Hilaal. Haider contacts Roohdar,
who turns out to be part of a separatist group. Roohdar then narrates the story of how he met Hilaal
in one of the detention centres, where they both were tortured. Hilaal attributes his imprisonment to
his brother, Khurram. Roohdar tells Haider that he simply wanted to pass on his father's message to
him: revenge for Khurram's betrayal. Thereafter, angry and swearing to avenge his father's death,
Haider becomes mentally and emotionally scattered and starts to behave and act strangely. His uncle
Khurram, after getting to know about the meeting of Haider and Roohdar, narrates to him that
Roohdar has killed his father. He is in dual mind as to whose narration he should believe. He
discloses his state of indecision to Arshia and also states that Roohdar has given him a gun to kill his
uncle. Arshia unintentionally discloses to her father who informs Khurram about the gun. Khurram
immediately orders his men to send Haider to a mental institution.
Next morning Haider is all set to kill his uncle but cannot accomplish it because his uncle is
in prayers and then is captured by Arshia's father who orders to kill him but Haider manages to
escape. He contacts Roohdar, who suggests getting trained in Pakistan to avenge for his father's death
and Haider agrees. He calls his mother and informs her about it to which she asks him to meet her
once before going to the other side of border. During the meet, Ghazala discloses that she had
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HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS


disclosed about terrorists hiding in their house out of fear to Khurram unknowing that he was an
informer of the Indian army. Arshia's father traces them and is about to shoot Haider when Haider
shoots him in the head and escapes.
Tormented from her father's death at the hands of Haider, Arshia is deeply hurt and commits
suicide. Meanwhile Ghazala finds Roohdar's number from Arshia's diary and she calls him. Haider
goes to his pickup point, i.e. the graveyard where his father was buried. At the graveyard, Haider
contemplates about the universal nature of mortality. Unaware of Arshia's death, on seeing her
brother in the graveyard it hits his mind that the body is of Arshia. He runs towards her body where
her brother sees him and informs Khurram. A fight ensues between Haider and Arshia's brother
resulting in Arshia's brother's death. Khurram arrives with full force and a gunfight ensues,
meanwhile Roohdar and Ghazala also arrive at the spot, where Roohdar drops Ghazala. A fierce
exchange of bullets and bombs leaves only Haider and few men on Khurram's side alive. Just when
Khurram is about to kill Haider with a rocket launcher, Ghazala requests a chance to convince Haider
to surrender. She, goes to Haider, confronts him but he says that he cannot die before avenging his
father's death. Ghazala tells him that revenge only results in revenge and there is no ending to this
cycle, but Haider who is determined to avenge his father's death does not understand. Ghazala kisses
Haider, steps outside, only to reveal that she has been wearing a suicide vest. Khurram and Haider
rush towards her but she pulls the pins of the hand grenade resulting in a big blast causing the death
of the rest of the men and Khurram being gravely injured with his legs being amputated. Haider goes
to his mother's remains, cries a lot and goes to Khurram in order to shoot him in the eyes as per his
father's wish but is reminded of his mother's words "revenge only results in revenge" and thus
decides to leave Khurram. Khurram begs Haider to kill him to free him from burden of guilt and to
avenge his father's death but Haider doesn't kill and leaves.

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HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

DEPICTION OF LAW AND LAWYERS

In the movie Haider, many Acts have been used by Haider to show the people that they have
rights under law for the specific situations of which they were particularly unaware. There was
existence of grave human rights violation across the valleys of Kashmir. Thousands of people just
disappeared into thin air never to be seen again and thousand others killed in the name of law and
order.
Haider tries to show the true picture to the people. He enlists the various laws in place.

UN Council resolution number 47 of 1948 and Article 2 of the Geneva Convention and
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution relating to the question of existence of the people in

Kashmir.
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Section 5 Rule 4 Point A. Any commissioned
officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in
the armed forces may, in the disturbed area, (a) if he is of the opinion that it is necessary to do
so for the maintenance of public order, after giving such due warning as he may consider
necessary, fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing death, against any person who
is acting in contravention of any law or order.

AFSPA was a draconian measure whereby any soldier of the Indian Army can, fire upon or
otherwise use force, even to the causing of death where laws are being violated. No criminal
prosecution will lie against any person who has taken action under this act. Ever since it was
brought into law in 1991 (In Jammu and Kashmir), not a single army or paramilitary officer or
soldier has ever been prosecuted for murder, rape, destruction of property, or other such crimes. It is
a shameful and horrific history, about which India knows little and cares even less. What makes
Haider such a special film is that, unlike other works that have dealt with the Kashmir Conflict, it
does not pretend that history does not exist. There is no doubt that the security forces did torture
detainees in holding cells across the state. The film has a scene where captured Kashmiris are
tortured in a place called MAMA-II, a nod to the infamous torture center on the banks of the Dal
Lake in Srinagar. Laws were twisted to such an extent; they ended up helping the oppressors and not
the oppressed.

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Haiders uncle Khurram was a lawyer wherein he has been depicted to be corrupt and money
minded. This was evidently visible when one old man came to him to ask for help as his son had
been taken away by the Army and he replied to it by saying that, In Kashmir, God in the heaven...
and the army rules the earth... And the army has its bible AFSPA (the Armed Forces Special Powers
Act). Further he says that he could only help his son by framing false charges against his son. So, in
this movie lawyers have been depicted in a very stereotypical Bollywood manner where lawyers are
considered to be dishonest, money-minded and what matters is who is more beneficial for oneself
and has deeper pockets.

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HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

GENDER ROLES

In the movie a typical background of the Muslim society has been shown. As it is in the
Islamic culture, women remain behind the pardah with their heads covered with scarves. In the
movie also initially Ghazala has been portrayed as a typical obedient wife, who never questions her
husband. When her husband allows a terrorist to stay in their house risking the lives of his family
members, although she raises her voice, but to no use. In the end she had to give in to his choice of
letting the terrorist stay in the house, even after knowing the consequences for this action.
Later on when Indian army takes away her husband, she presumes him to be dead on the
basis of words of her husbands brother. The movie depicts the harsh reality of women of Kashmir
who are forced to live as Half widows. The women are unaware whether their husbands are dead or
alive. In that situation they cant remarry either. She falls for her husbands brother and decides to
marry him. Here she has been shown to break the stereotype of not remarrying just after the
husbands death, especially in Islamic culture. She has been depicted as a strong woman who follows
her wishes and heart. Furthermore, she has been depicted to fall in love in with her own son. She
loved him too much. They have been shown to be kissing in the end, which is again the breaking the
stereotype.
On the other hand, Arshia is the girl who loves Haider. She has also been shown as a strong
character. She defies her own father and brother and continues meeting Haider against their wishes.
She did not give into their demands. Even though they tried to stop her, but for the sake of her love
she defies them.
Both Ghazala and Arshia have been depicted as strong characters in the movie that help in
changing in the plot of the story and bringing about the twists in the story. They have successfully
portrayed the plight of women of Kashmir and breaking the typical stereotypes of the society.

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HAIDER A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

PORTRAYAL OF POLITICS

Indian films about Kashmir rarely stray from the established narrative, one of the Indian army
courageously fighting armed insurgents determined to deliver Kashmir into the arms of Pakistan. A
film about the politics of Kashmir is emotive issue there were calls from the right wing in India to
ban the film for purportedly being anti-national and for showing the armed forces in a negative light.
Political cinema is not renowned for its neutrality, nor should it be, for that is the responsibility of a
documentary.
As far as the basic plot goes, the film is an adaptation of Shakespeares Hamlet set in
terror-torn Kashmir of the early 90s with the disappearance of Kashmiri civilians forming the
crucible for the lead character Haiders Hamletian inner turmoil. Hamlet merely provides a
rudimentary template for the movie, with highlights from the play serving to remind the viewer
of the movies ostensible claim of being an adaptation of it.
In Haider, the prevailing Kashmir conflict and the loads of political douche involved
with it has been portrayed in a brilliant manner wherein there are various instances such as
Khurram getting his own brother caught and then getting him killed to marry his wife Ghazala,
Salman brothers betray Haider and try to get him killed although they themselves get killed in
the end, Arshias father being a policeman was involved in all the illegal activities such as
capturing and torturing of innocent civilians, killing them and showing them as militants, and
various other activities, Haider using the help of militants to take revenge for his fathers death,
and so on.
Vishal Bhardwajs realism is a politically correct one which treads the safe oft-beaten
path of lambasting the Indian State and holding its Army solely responsible for the
radicalization of Kashmiri youth, comfortably ignoring the pivotal role of Islamist supremacists.

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