From the second teaser for Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story released, I was looking forward to watching Kay Kay Menon in action again. Now that the show is finally out, and earning great reviews, I can’t wait for work to end so I can start binge-watching.
In the meantime though, I can’t help but go back to one of Menon’s career’s finest performances that didn’t receive as much love as it deserved – Khurram Meer in Haider.
Haider is one of Bollywood’s finest movies, that boasts of a great soundtrack, gripping storyline, and stellar performances by the entire star cast. Tabu and Shahid Kapoor emerged as the real stars of the film, and rightfully so – they were, after all, phenomenal as Ghazala and Haider Meer.
But Kay Kay Menon, who played Haider’s paternal uncle, Khurram Meer (aka Claudius from Hamlet), was equally good in the film.
Menon displayed a unique brand of slyness that left you visibly uncomfortable, long before his true actions are revealed – and it’s not just because you know Hamlet’s story. But because of how Menon imbibed Claudius’ character traits and made them their own.
Haider was the tortured hero, Ghazala the conflicted mother, and Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor), the innocent unwittingly caught in tragedy.
But Khurram Meer – he was evil and conniving, with seemingly no redeemable qualities. And yet, Menon played him in a way that hooked your interest, even if you were disgusted at his actions, or annoyed at his slick style of charm.
Right from the start, when he tries to hoodwink Haider to the end, where he succumbs (physically and emotionally) to his fate and approaching death strips him of his cocky ignorance, Khurram Meer remained a formidable villain.
But the moment I remember is when he realizes that he never could usurp Haider in Ghazala’s life – and the audience realizes, for all his flaws, his love for Ghazala was real.
That is the genius of Menon on display – to borrow from real-life, and imbibe in his characters traits of people who exist around you.
This has always been Menon’s forte – capturing your attention with his characters, no matter how strange they may appear on paper. Idolize or detest them, but you can never really forget his characters.
Perhaps in Bollywood’s, or rather, Bollywood’s audience’s eagerness in showering love for the hero, his act was sidelined. But it’s high time that we revisit Haider, and for that matter all his movies, and give him the love and attention he so rightfully deserves!