A doctor is considered a life saviour. But, what should he do when the person whose life he has to save is a deadly terrorist. That is the crux of the movie Haider.
Dr. Hilal Meer is greatly respected in Srinagar, Kashmir. He is trusted as a doctor and the army officials too look up to him. One night, Dr. Hilal is called to check on a well-known terrorist who has appendicitis. There is a curfew in Srinagar and he can’t be treated at the hospital and is in a critiical condition. Dr. Hilal decides to take him to his house and operate on him there. He knew that the army or the police wouldn’t check his ambulance.
The terrorist is operated upon and Dr. Hilal decides to keep him there till he heals. His wife, Ghazala(enacted by Tabu) is uncomfortable in this situation knowing the tense atmosphere in Srinagar. After the operation, they go to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, Ghazala is waken up by the sound of a loud siren. She wakes Dr. Hilal up, telling him there is a crackdown. All the men and women come out of their homes with their I.D proofs. The men are taken in front of a masked man sitting in an army jeep who tells them to keep going ahead when they are not suspected. With those he suspects, he honks the horn once and they are arrested. When Dr. Hilal comes in front of him, he honks the horn continuously without stopping. All his men come rushing down and surround his house. Dr. Hilal is arrested and taken away. In an ensuing battle, Dr. Hilal’s house is destroyed and the terrorist killed.
Dr. Hilal’s son, Haider(enacted by Shahid Kapoor), returns to find his home destroyed, his father’s whereabouts unknown and his mother in a romantic relationship with his father’s younger brother Khurram(Kay Kay Menon). Haider sets out to find his father and leaves no stone unturned in the efforts. He is helped in his mission by his childhood friend, Arshia(Shraddha Kapoor) who is a journalist.
Now, contrary to what you have heard, this is not a movie of Kasmiri extremists against Kashmiri Pandits. This is simply a story of a young man searching for his father whose whereabouts are not revealed to him. Under the army laws, any civilian found guilty of militant activities is to be handed over to the Indian court within 30 days. This law is flouted in Kashmir.
All of Haider’s efforts to find his father are in vain when he is contacted by a mysterious character, Roohdaar(Irrfan Khan) through Arshia. He claims to know about his father and asks him to meet him.
When Haider meets him, he comes to know his father is dead. He refuses to believe it but accepts it eventually. Then, he comes to know of a story of betrayal and treachery. His father had been betrayed by his own brother and wife. Haider has a very complex relationship with his mother. He had always idolised her and adored her. Now, this betrayal has left him shocked. He sets out to reveal the facts. His father’s tomb has been found and they have a prayer ceremony for him. Immediately, after the prayer ceremony, Ghazala and Khurram get married. At some point during the story, Ghazala reveals to Haider that she has informed Khurram that they were giving refuge to a terrorist in their house as he was Dr. Hilal’s brother. She was unaware that he was an informer for the Indian army. Urged by his love for Ghazala, Khurram betrays Dr. Hilal.
From here, Haider is a story of vendetta and a son’s pain at his mother’s betrayal. Even though Dr. Hilal was treating a terrorist in his home, never once do you feel that he is a traitor. Now, this is a very thin line. As a doctor, he feels that his job is to treat a patient who comes to him and not to let him die, even if he is a terrorist. Shahid Kapoor gives an emotionally rending performance. During the song Bismil, there was pin-drop silence in the movie hall, people were so emotionally moved.
The only shortcoming in the movie is that it is a bit too long. If it had been a crisp two hours movie, it would have had more impact. Apart from that, the movie is totally worth watching inspite of the extreme violence. Please don’t take your young kids for the movie as I have seen people doing. It’s not a movie that kids should watch. The movie is too violent for them.