This article examines the extra-ordinary significance of setting to a recent Bollywood production of Hamlet, Bhardwaj’s 2014 film Haider. Tracing the film’s revisions to three Shakespearean motifs, it argues that Bhardwaj appropriates Hamlet, perhaps the most widely known revenge tragedy in the history of Western literature, to level a blistering critique of the social and political realities of the Kashmir conflict. Part 1 focuses on Haider’s modulations to tropes of confinement throughout the play. Whereas for Hamlet these tropes tend to express an existential malaise, for Haider they convey instead the haunting realities of a militarized state. Part 2 turns to the film’s portrayal of the play-within-the-play, arguing that the revised imagery of the sequence has profound implications for the film’s claims about Kashmir. Finally, Part 3 considers Haider’s daring rejection of the ending we typically expect, both from revenge tragedy generally and from Hamlet more specifically. By transforming Hamlet into a political allegory that accuses government agencies of troubling crimes, Haider, I suggest, takes its cue from Hamlet’s Murder of Gonzago—a prior play that Hamlet, too, subtly revises to accuse the king of murder. Haider is effectively, in this account, Shakespeare’s Mousetrap writ large.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 365-390
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.