‘I asked Shahid Kapoor, tum naachte ho ki udte ho?:’ Sukhwinder Singh on Haider’s song that gives goosebumps | Scene stealer

Hamlet adaptation by Vishal Bhardwaj in 2014 Haider is impressive in many ways. Having read the play while in college, I was excited to see how it would play out on screen, and needless to say, I was thrilled with the outcome. The way the filmmaker spoke about the difficult socio-political aspects of Kashmir, while deftly converting this masterful tragedy onto celluloid, still gives me goosebumps. No one has been so bold about Kashmir in mainstream Hindi cinema since.

Haider has several breathtaking moments, but the one that caught my attention was the song “Bismil”. Google defines the word Urdu as wounded or sacrificial slaughter, what’s interesting is how Shahid’s Haider Meer draws a parallel with his deceased father. In Shakespeare’s original play, something similar happens when Hamlet directs and stars in a play called Mousetrap and basically singles out his uncle for murdering his father. In this song by Sukhwinder Singh, our anti-hero dances and attacks his mother (Tabu), and points the finger at Kay Kay Menon (the film’s uncle) for the death of his father.

Speaking about the fact that this was the acclaimed singer’s first chance to do some kind of ballad number, Sukhwinder told indianexpress.com: “It’s a ballad, the song tells a story, something that used to occur in V Shantaram films. You could say that this song is an example of Indian opera. So when Vishal told me the song, I quickly realized that this kind of expression was something I would do for the first time in my career… So I usually sing effortlessly, but in Bismil I had to be more calculating in a way, you might say. It wasn’t easy. In the middle, the song dives and unveils its depth for audiences. It tells the murder mystery that is at the heart of the film. And it does so through on-screen visuals, through its poetic lyrics, and through its music and vocals.

Sharing his reaction to finally seeing his hard work come to life on screen, the National Award winner said, “First of all, I would like to thank Vishal Bhardwaj because he gave me the opportunity to sing a song like this one. He believed in me. And for that, I really touch his feet. The song made me feel like I was sitting in one of those dreaded math classes again, but the end result was like ‘qayamat.’And when I finally got the chance to see it on the big screen, I was flabbergasted. Also, I have to congratulate Shahid Kapoor, to whom I couldn’t help but ask: ‘Tum naachte ho ki udte ho bhai?‘ (Did you dance or fly?).

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Another highlight of the song is its poetic lyrics that subtly but clearly tell the listener everything they need to know about the story, and where Haider’s main angst comes from. Veteran Bhardwaj’s longtime collaborator Gulzar did an incredible job of wrapping up the entire film in a one-of-a-kind six-minute revenge dance track. The unusual choreography, as well as the use of puppet figures added that extra, almost theatrical value to the song.

Speaking of choreographer Sudhesh Adhana, who won the national award for his work in ‘Bismil’, Sukhwinder Singh said, “There was another unique thing about Bismil that you can confirm later with Vishal Bhardwaj. The man who choreographed this had never choreographed anything in his life before. He comes from Kashmir; it has no background or filmic connections. He had talent. The thing he imagined, the flavor of that imagination was captured by our filmmaker. There is an Urdu term for it, Tasawwur.”

Clearly, that scent of magic woven together by all these artists lingered long after the film’s release.

You can watch Haider on Netflix.

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