It’s amazing how a movie like Haider gets even the closeted hindutva brigade crawling out of the woodwork. It’s a movie. It’s more about a family than about Kashmir. Yes, it’s set in Kashmir, and yes, the major protagonists are Muslims. Does that make it an us vs them story? No. It makes it a human story.
Millions of Kashmiri Pandits were displaced around the 1990s. But this movie isn’t about them. Millions of Muslims were recruited by militants and sent across the border to train as jihadis. This movie isn’t about them. The Indian Army was called in to maintain peace and order. In the process, many were killed, maimed, captured, tortured. In turn, they killed, captured, maimed and tortured Muslims, some innocent, some not. This isn’t even a story about them.
This is simply the story of a Muslim family, of family dynamics, of love and obsession, loss and revenge, of how they were caught up in the broader events happening in the state, and how they dealt with them.
Yes, it shows the Indian Army in a “negative light” – it shows the prison/torture camps and has a few graphic scenes (for Indian cinema) of torture. If you think this is Muslim propaganda, please, un-bury your head from the sand. If you think Haider’s (Shahid Kapur) soliloquy is a whole load of bullshit, please, un-bury your head from the sand. If you think that all Muslims are Paki’s, dude, you’ve got issues.
Yes, Haider’s father wants revenge for his lost years. For the torture he had to endure at the hands of the army. But he doesn’t want revenge against India. He wants revenge against his brother, for giving him up to the Army. There’s no clear cut black and white in an us vs them narrative, because life is all about the greys. Moreover, this isn’t an us vs them story. It isn’t even really a Kashmir story. As I said before, it simply is a human story.
So for once, can we put aside our differences and our prejudices and just watch some excellent acting by some brilliant actors, or is that too much to ask for?