Bardwaj and Kapoor partner in the Bollywood adaptation of Hamlet
A Bollywood version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Haider, with director Vishal Bhardwaj and Stars Shahid Kapoor and Shradha Kapoor is the third Bollywood film of its kind by Bhardwaj.
While the director’s 2003 Bollywood version of Macbeth called Maqbool was shot in Mumbai; and his 2006 version of Othello, called Omkara was shot in Uttar Pradesh; Haider’s location is the most controversial of them all.
Shot in Kashmir, one of the most conflict-ridden states that is a symbol for the political tension forever brewing between India and Pakistan; filming for the movie was met with disapproval by locals and the CM, Omar Abdullah. Apart from other problems, the shooting at University of Kashmir was interrupted by students protesting.
.The two previous adaptations having received critical acclaim, Bhardwaj became the leading figure in transferring Shakespeare’s plays to other times and countries, known as “cross-hatched Shakespeare”.
However, Bhardwaj admits to being unsure about the shooting of the film before he began. He admits to being confused between King Lear and Hamlet. What finally won Bhardwaj over is how Hamlet fit with his other adaptations. The second reason was that several other directors were keen on doing Hamlet too, and Bhardwaj wanted to beat them to it.
In the lead role is Shahid Kapoor as Haider, who has previously worked with Bhardwaj in the super-hit Kaminey: The Scoundrels in 2009. Also a producer this time around, Kapoor has given up his regular salary to ensure the film could go ahead. Explaining the logic behind this, the 33 year old star says that he and Bhardwaj were like partners; and didn’t want the pressure of putting their salaries in the film because someone might then tell them to add in a musical, saying the budget was big.
Shahid Kapoor admits that he faced a different pressure, however, that in playing Haider. The star confessed that he was glad he didn’t have to perform live on stage-firstly because he doubted his acting style would suit the stage and secondly because this might have made the audience draw comparisons between him and his father, the well-known stage actor, Pankaj Kapur.
Talking about the filming location, Kapoor says that though it is shot there, the film is about human relationships and not about Kashmir.
Bhardwaj says that he has always felt Kashmir has been underrepresented in films and wanted to shoot a movie with an insider’s perspective of the state.
“The great thing is that Shakespeare allowed me to have a great story – with the backdrop remaining firmly where it should be – in the background. If you say you are making a drama in Kashmir, and then people are skeptical, but if you say you are making Hamlet in Kashmir, and then it’s not a problem,” he said.
In the movie, Shraddha Kapoor plays Haider’s love interest; Tabu, his mother; and Irrfan Khan, his father.
Bhardwaj found adapting the film to suit another language the most challenging; and added that he took several liberties with the adaptation of Hamlet.
Talking about the future, Bhardwaj says that he plans to adapt more of Shakespeare’s work into Bollywood cinema, though he might do a comedy next instead.