Flaunted as one of the most anticipated films of 2014, Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ has undeniably lived up to the build-up. The filmmaker who previously delivered hits like ‘Socha Na Tha’, ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Rockstar’- has now brought us ‘Highway’ and he has yet again redefined Indian cinema and elevated the bar by espousing a formulation which is unquestionably non-commercial. Ali knows best how to tell stories. ‘Highway’ comes across as a breath of fresh air. The film has a striking storyline tortuously woven with feelings, something that is truly early missing from our current day cinema.
Veera (Alia Bhatt) hails from an affluent and influential family. Arrangements for her wedding are on in full swing and she is frantic to escape from the formalities of pleasing the guests. She forces her fiancé to take her out for a drive secretly. But little does she know that her stubbornness would land her on the ‘Highway’ which would consequently change her fate! Mahavir Bhaati(Randeep Hooda), a contract criminal, along with his abettors kidnaps Veera (Alia Bhatt) without any prior intention of kidnapping her. He hails from a background that has been subjected to severe abuse at the hands of the wealthy class and has strong bias against the rich. He is the essence all what a girl want to live her life with. After initial resistance, Veera starts showing indications of Stockholm syndrome, feels relaxed amidst her abductors and surprises them by showing no aggression towards them. As she discovers newer destinations on the ‘Highway’, she opens up about her disturbing childhood to Mahavir, who is otherwise a hardened criminal.
Veera admits to him that she doesn’t want to return to her parents and that she is in love with the endless road and wants to continue travelling purposelessly. She has been dying to be her own self, do things what she feels like doing and be the person she wants to be. But her lavish abode and her super-rich parents have not been able to provide her with what she has been sincerely looking for all her life – ‘freedom’. Veera thrives in bringing alive the human in the beastlike Mahavir and learns his love for his mother, who raised him by working hard, facing hardships. His mother has been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father. Though poles apart, Mahavir and Veera, the two lonely strangers fall in love and leave behind a trail of a strange love-story.
Randeep Hooda proves to be an actor par excellence. The character of Mahavir looks tailor-made for him as he delivers a faultless performance worth wolf-whistles. He has put in all what he could have to put a real face to the character Mahavir and by perfecting the typical Haryanvi accent. It leaves you wondering why he is so underused in Bollywood. Alia Bhatt has a powerhouse of talent. ‘Student of the Year’ launched her, but ‘Highway makes Alia proclaim her arrival into the trade as a fine actress. As Veera, she will make you cry, laugh and fall in love with her.
The cinematography touches you and helps you interrelate with the scenery that is rarely seen on the silver screen. The snow-capped mountains, the rivers, the azure horizon and the vegetation have been gorgeously seized as if they are characters in the film! They bring the unfamiliar or rather the overlooked locales of northern India back to like on the big screen. The background score can’t get better than what you can hear in the film. The music is simply enchanting. Oscar Award winning music genius AR Rahman is back again with tunes that will stay with you forever. The genius has made the most of the folk tradition and thus paid respect to India’s native music culture that infrequently finds a mention these days. The dialogues are simple and realistic and will help you identify with the characters.
The film is too slow at a number of intervals and lacks rapidity. The silences between the dialogues are a bit of a drag but that’s intentional. ‘Highway’ arises as a strong winner. It is not meant for movie goers who enter the theatre hoping to see some bizarre fight sequences, masala style drama,song and dance or intense love-making scenes. This proves to be a unique cinematic experience to enthral audience who enjoy high quality cinema. If you are looking forward to a beautiful yet rare love story then ‘Highway’ is your journey’s end. Collect all your emotions and gear up to watch the film this weekend. The Bollywood Tempest awards Highway a deserving 9/10.
Rating: 4.5 Stars