A soldier reviews ‘Haider’ movie:
I am an ex-armyman. I was stationed in Kashmir in mid-nineties. This was the same period when hordes of militants from across the border infiltrated in Kashmir to spread terror.
Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and scores of other terrorist groups were having a free-for-all rampage in Kashmir. They would infiltrate from Pakistan, recruit cadre, take them to Pakistan for training, bring them back and perform heinous acts of terror.
This was the same period when half a million Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs were massacred and forced to flee the valley.
This was the same period when Kashmir burnt under fundamentalism. It was next to impossible to differentiate between a peaceful nationalist and a killing-machine.
Whenever a cricket match would happen between India and Pakistan, Pakistani flags would wave across the valley as if we were sitting in heart of Pakistan. Any minority voice who dared to wave the Indian flag would be silenced immediately by militants.
It was during such a reign of terror, that Indian Army had to douse the fire in Kashmir with their own blood.
If someone suffered most severe human-rights violation in history of mankind, it was the Indian Army in Kashmir.
We left our families in different parts of India and survived under the harshest of conditions. For days we would sleep over guns in harsh climate and remotest locations just to keep a tab on infiltrating militants. Anyone of us could be bombed away in a sudden attack of fundamentalism. Innumerable among us lost our lives.
I lost my hand like so many others who lost their limbs or eyes. To die in a bomb blast was considered lucky. Because if you happened to be captured by the militants, you would be slowly and mercilessly tortured to death. Militants and their supporters took pride in this gruesome ‘halal’ ritual.
Remember Saurabh Kalia? He is definitely not as popular as Vishal Bharadwaj or Shahid Kapoor. Because he was not a film star who made money by exploiting national interests. He was a humble Indian soldier who gave his life for motherland. He was captured by fundamentalists along with five more soldiers. They were taken across Line of Control and tortured as a religious ritual.
Pakistan army tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fracturing the skull, cutting the lips, chipping the nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead after twenty-two days, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.
This made the killers “Ghazi” – who as per these fundamentalists gets highest number of most beautiful virgins in Heaven. All you need to do to be a Ghazi is to celebrate killing of a non-believer.
These five soldiers were after all the worst of creatures in world in eyes of jihadis. They were Indians, soldiers and idol-worshippers. What could be greater sin!
I was lucky because I could have been in Saurav’s place. Had I not lost my hand, instead of Saurav Kalia, I would have been ‘halal’ed to make someone Ghazi.
This was the same period when Indian Army made greatest sacrifice to save India and humanity from reign of death and blood.
And it is the same period around which the film “Haider” by Vishal Bharadwaj, Shahid Kapoor and anti-India jihadi writer Basharat Peer has been made and adored by “critics”.
No struggle for liberation in Kashmir
Everyone on ground knows that there is no struggle for liberation of Kashmiris in Kashmir. If that had been so, why native Kashmiri Pandits would have been massacred?
You need to spend just a few days in the valley to understand the true nature of struggle that lies hidden under this garb of Kashmiriyat.
It is simply a ploy to extend the reaches of Islamic fundamentalism. The same fundamentalism of Al-Qaeda and ISIS that is shaking the entire world.
Kashmiri militants are brainwashed to believe that they will go to Paradise only after India is conquered by an army of Jihadis. Listen to speeches of Masood Azhar, founder of Jaish-e-Muhammad. He talks of Ghazwa-e-Hind prophecy where Prophet made conquest of India a precondition for opening doors of Heaven.
In name of religion, the same poison is spread in minds of Kashmiri youth to make them militants.
Go and ask opinion of any Kashmiri liberation member. No one will say that idol-worshipper can also be a good human blessed by Allah. On contrary, they believe that idol-worshippers are worst of creatures. The real hatred is against non-Muslims because as per them, their version of Islam is the only acceptable religion. All non-Muslims must convert to Islam or deserve hatred. This is exactly the same ideology that ISIS and Al-Qaeda follow.
The war against terror is a war against this fanatic mindset. None other than the Indian Army has sacrificed more to fight this war. We fought not only with arms but with love and service. The flood relief efforts in Kashmir in recent past is a clear example of the same.
Enemy within and outside
Yet Indian Army continues to face bullets from enemies and abuses from family. Today, on one side Pakistan is targeting Indian Army and minority locations in Kashmir with bullets. And around the same time, our own country-men create a film like “Haider” that paints Indian Army a villain.
On one hand, flags of ISIS are waved in Kashmir, and at same time, “critics” laud anti-nationalism of Haider as marvel of art.
Such co-incidences give ample evidence that somehow our enemies and certain elements from within our country consistently orchestrate great timing and coordination among each other that it is hard to believe that it was just a mere coincidence.
In Army, we are trained to observe such remarkable coincidences, understand what goes behind, and yet silently sacrifice ourselves for the mission of nation.
Haider shook me to core
I have myself faced irrepairable loss in saving motherland from anti-national militants. And my fellow armymen have made much larger sacrifices for the same cause. Thus the film Haider shook me to core.
It made me question for the first time – Whom are we fighting for? Whom are we defending? The same people who could make this film because of Army’s protection collude with an anti-national Jihadi writer to make a villain of Indian Army?
Is this the reward of our sacrifices that we continue to make? Are commercial gains and so-called artistic expression more important than motherland and humanity?
What if we had not fought terrorism by tooth and nail in nineties? What if we had not arrested the spread of terror to other parts of country through our own lives?
With friends like this, who needs enemies?
This is not a film-critics review. This is a review from perspective of an armyman, a lover of humanity and a son of India. A true secular who refuses to believe that God hates idol-worshippers so much that they will go to Hell. And aspires to fight against ideology that directly or indirectly nurtures such fundamentalist elements.
This is not rhetoric in jingoism
Unlike Haider, which is an experiment in fundamentalism, don’t consider the article to be a rhetoric in jingoism.
Yes, I love my country. I love my country more than I love anything else in life. I love my country not because I was born here or I am a native of this nation. It is not because I love the design of the map of India. It is because its timeless cultural and philosophical heritage that is built on core foundations of tolerance, acceptance and justice. So jingoism has no place for a nationalist and son of soil.
My nationalism does not make me aspire to conquer the whole world. It inspires me to enlighten the whole world. It inspires me to promote brotherhood across the globe and strive for “One World, One Family.” It inspires me to make India lighthouse of the world. I joined Indian Army not to conquer the world, but nurture and protect Peace that defines foundation of India.
I am not a movie-watcher. My mission never allowed me the luxury to fit movies or serials in my priority-list. But I made an exception for Haider.
Summary Review of Haider
While I will provide details later, let me state upfront – I find “Haider” to be a shameless commercialization of anti-nationalism.
No its not a rhetoric. This is the most “polite” way in which I can summarize the review of this film.
The more “practical” review summary is already being demonstrated by my Indian Army by appropriate retaliation to Pakistani misadventure of cross-border firing. Salutes to my Army for this. Am proud to lose my arm for you. And regret that I could not gift my life for you.
The Detailed Review of Haider
A. This is perhaps the first anti-Indian film that has been produced in India by Indians. Just as the film producers chose to showcase Army as criminals, I would prefer to call the film-maker and its sympathizers Jaichands.
B.The film has been written by Basharat Peer – a Kashmiri separatist based out of New York. Basharat Peer is well acclaimed for his hatred of India. He lived, studied and made career from what India gave him. But in influence of fanaticism, fundamentalism and perhaps some money, he chose to hate India. He openly claims that he holds an Indian Passport only due to compulsion.
Of course it is a pity that Vishal Bhardwaj and Shahid Kapoor and the rest of the gang who eat their bread from India chose to select a vocal anti-national to write their plot.
No, Basharat Peer is not a professional film writer. On contrary, this is his first such project.
In garb of producing Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the film team has done what Jaichand or Mir Zafar did, all for petty commercial gains.
C. The film has a clear anti-India tone. The protagonist is son of a doctor who also is a member of militant gang of Kashmiri separatists. The wife and brother of the doctor report presence of terrorists in home to military. Military catches the doctor and kills all the militants. The hero “Haider” is supposed to take revenge for this.
In entire film, all dialogues and all characters make one clear assumption – that anything and anyone who supports India is a bad guy. Anything and anyone who hates India or Indian Army or is a militant is a good guy.
The greatest crime of bad guys is that they believe in Indian democracy or chose to support Indian Army instead of militants.
D. Indian Army is shown to be tyrants. They torture even innocents brutally. In one scene, they castrate a young man during torture even though they knew he was innocent. The fact remains that despite all allegations, no evidence has been found of Indian Army torturing any innocent.
E. In one scene, Army asks all militants to shout “Jai Hind”. The father of Haider refuses to shout so, and hence is punished. In anger, he asks his companion to inform his son that he must take revenge for all this. Thus a “hero” is born from Haider whose only agenda in life is to kill those who love India. This continues without remorse till end of the film.
There is no mention of the fact that thousands or even lakhs of militants had infiltrated India during the same period. Only an anti-national can complain about use of “Jai Hind” to segregate militants from ordinary citizens. I can understand Basharat Peer to have hatred against “Jai Hind”. But why Shahid Kapoor and Vishal Bharadwaj?
For humble soldiers like me, “Jai Hind” is the only call for which we live and die. This alone is our mantra, our kalma, our slogan.
F. In last scene, after all killing and destruction, the hero heads towards Pakistan.
G. In the interim, there is an incoherent monologue by Haider on how India cheated Kashmiris and has illegally occupied Kashmir. He raises slogan among public who shout back that they want independence from India. This anti-India speech is supposedly a high-point of the film.
H. Kashmiri women have been portrayed as lose characters. Haider’s mother starts sleeping with her brother-in-law immediately after she gets her husband arrested by military for hiding militants. And immediately after death of her husband is confirmed, she marries. Further, she has questionable feelings for her son which is exemplified by unnecessary kiss scenes.
I.Another Kashmiri woman, Haider’s girlfriend is shown to have utter disdain for her religion. She refuses to touch Quran for vow and instead decides to sleep with Haider despite objections from her brother and father. She is confused between her love for Haider and love for India. And that confusion leads to problems for Haider.
J. These are the only two women in the film. Basharat Peer has played a very smart move here. It is evident that he has insulted Islam as well as denigrated Kashmiri women apart from insulting India. His real goal is not the benefit of Kashmiris. He seems to be inspired by Pakistan instead. That is why the hero finally leaves for Pakistan. Any Muslim who has slightest soft-corner for India is shown as negative.
K. In fact there is another set of characters who mimic Salman Khan – an Indian actor. They are shown to be friends of Haider who turn traitors and try to kill him under orders of police. But Haider kills them instead.
L. The father of Haider’s girlfriend is shown to be a spineless policeman who knows India is wrong in illegally capturing Kashmir and yet works against “Kashmiri freedom fighters”. He is the one who gives illegal orders to kill Haider in encounter.
M. There is a repeated use of word “Chutzpah”. It serves two purposes. First it fulfills the fetish of film crew to speak out an abusive word indirectly. Secondly, it is supposed to rhyme with AFSPA – Armed Forces Special Powers Act – that gives special powers to Army in Kashmir to fight terrorists. In one scene, Haider is seen mocking AFSPA along with his friends by mentioning it along side Chutzpah. It is used to ridicule India’s ‘illegal’ control over Kashmir.
The director ignores the fact that Chutzpah is a Hebrew word that is pronounced as “Hutspah” or “Khutspah” and not with “CH” as director’s fetish propelled him.
The irony is that AFSPA alone is the reason why the makers of Haider could make the film today!
N. Even apart from the obvious focus on anti-Indianism, there is nothing that the movie offers apart from long yawns and drags. There are scenes and situations where one is confused whether to laugh or take seriously. For example, two comedians who mimic Salman Khan suddenly turn villains. Some elderly grave-diggers near Pakistan border suddenly start singing and dancing out of context. They are revealed to be militants later.
O.There is a song “Bismil” where idol of “Satan” has been put on gates of Martand Temple in Anantnag and the hero sings and dances like devil. It is an obvious reference to the oldest Sun temple of world being a haven of Satan. After the song, hero attempts to kill his uncle. Several Hindu organizations have protested against this insulting depiction of a revered temple. The fact is that this temple represents the original “Kashmiriyat” that is being crushed under militancy and hatred.
P. The hero refers to Anantnag as Islamabad repeatedly when an army-man asks his destination. This is an obvious reference to affection for capital of Pakistan and refusal to speak the original Hindu/ Kashmiri name of the town in Kashmir.
The film makes no mention of the fact that the name Kashmir comes from Rishi Kashyap – one of the most revered Sapta Rishis as per Hinduism. The name Anantnag comes from Ananta of Naga tribe, who also happened to be son of Rishi Kashyap. Both these words predate “Islamabad” and the demands for separation of Kashmir by thousands of years. Kashmir has been the most important center of Shaiva philosophy – one of the most important components of Hinduism – way before even religion was born.
Q. The movie claims to highlight the ‘Kashmir cause’ but the makers restricted themselves to Indian Kashmir only completely forgetting the Pakistan and Chinese Occupied Kashmir and rights of Kashmiris therein. Perhaps because it was again the Indian Army alone that allowed these snakes to shoot the movie in its area which was not possible in China or Pakistan. And in the end, the snakes bit the hands that fed them. Makers of Haider left no stone unturned to demonize Indian Army but not a single word has been uttered against the rogue Pakistani Army or Chinese PLA.
R. Soft corner for separatists but not even a single mention of ethnic cleansing of half a million Kashmiri Hindus from valley in 1989 in whole movie. Clear attempt of fueling false sense of victim-hood among the already radicalized separatists but deliberately hiding the real Kashmiri issues. It is clearly the Pakistani line on Kashmir that the makers of Haider have toed. The movie complains that army would inspect, threaten and torture Kashmiris. But movie offers no solution to how else the army should have dealt with those who hide militants in home, hate India, are ashamed to say ‘Jai Hind’ and has every other member in family as a militant or receiving terror-training in Pakistan. When thousands of militants have infiltrated the border, Pakistani flags are waved en-masse during Indo-Pak match, and half a million non-Muslims are killed or forced to flee, what else can army do to stop terror from killing more innocent lives? It does not matter whether it is Kashmir or Kanyakumari. If any person or group supports terrorists, or has family members indulged in terrorism, or are ashamed to say “Jai Hind”, then they deserve most thorough scrutiny and punishments. This is necessary to contain terrorism. This is not human rights violation. This is protection of human rights of innocent millions.
In general this movie has one agenda – to portray the following as villains:
- Muslims who love India
- Women who love India
- Hindus who love India
- Armymen who love India
- Kashmiris who love India
No I don’t call for ban on the film. The era of information control through bans is far over.
What I call for is to use this film as a lever to educate our fellow Indians and world about Kashmir. How militants destroy peace in Kashmir, how Pakistan destroys peace in Kashmir, how filmmakers mock true Kashmiris, true Muslims and true Hindus, how paid journalists like Basharat Peer bring bad name for Kashmir as well as India despite being Kashmiri. And how Indian Army has made greatest sacrifices in history of humanity to protect peace in Kashmir.
It is time to create national awakening on Kashmir issue, fight Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists in most ruthless manner to bring peace in valley and India. Indian Army is doing a fabulous job on the border. Lets do within the border and internationally to support their sacrifices.
Many critics and “experts” have claimed that “Haider” is a bold masterpiece. One reason why many frustrated minds are calling it masterpiece is obvious – despite their predictions, a so-called right-wing party came to power with absolute majority in recent elections. This is despite their top-of-the-mouth out-of-the-court pronouncement of judgement that the incumbent Prime Minister is a mass-murderer. Somehow public could not be conned by these fake allegations. And the massive victory frustrated them to core. So they will leave no option to proclaim any junk as masterpiece so far it is against the proclaimed stand of incumbent party. In case of Kashmir, it is also clear that this stand of zero-tolerance for militancy in Kashmir is also voice of people.
As far as it being a “bold” movie, I fully agree. It is indeed a bold experiment. Almost as bold as Pakistan’s recent bold experiment of cross-border firing in Kashmir. Or their “chutzpah” in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1998 that eventually bankrupted the rogue country.
And I agree that such boldness be better countered with even more boldness.
Please note that I am not against Pakistanis or Kashmiris who are fed up with violence. My love for nation makes every peace-lover in the world my best friend. But for sake of this peace, my love for nation calls for total annihilation of those forces or voices that promote militancy in any manner whatsoever.
As far as liberation of Kashmir is concerned, all this talks about plebicite or Nehru’s promise in 1948 is completely irrelevant. It was a blunder that few weak voices were allowed to partition the country whose borders have been decided since ages by nature and which nurtures the oldest civilization and culture of world uninterrupted till date.
No more partition can be tolerated. Period. If majority in Kashmir want separation, then the same rule should apply to every house, every lane, every mohalla of India. Tomorrow I may claim that 6 people of my home want to be independent country – we form full majority – hence grant us freedom. This is foolish talk.
Kashmir was always integral part of India. And shall remain so. The entire drama of separatism in Kashmir is a ploy to annexe a major part of India for fundamentalism – in lines of ISIS and Al Qaeda. The whole world is seeing results of rise of this fundamentalism. It is time we join together to crush it.
If a few silly films like Haider come up to rake up and further the cause of fundamentalists, we must use them as well to further the agenda of peace, tolerance and integral India.
My humble appeal would be to not waste your time and money watching such anti-national “pseudo-intellectual purgation”. Better donate it for Indian Army or PM Relief Fund to help Kashmiris suffering from floods and ignite the cause of nation.
(This review was originally published in 2014 here.)
Against trafficking, social injustice, cruelty. Promotes Vedas, Yoga, Sanskrit. Data scientist. IIT-IIM. Founder – Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation, Gems of Bollywood.
We Need Your Support
Your Aahuti is what sustains this Yajna. With your Aahuti, the Yajna grows. Without your Aahuti, the Yajna extinguishes. We are a small team that is totally dependent on you. To support, consider making a voluntary subscription.UPI ID - gemsofbollywood@upi / gemsofbollywood@icici