Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 21 February 2014


What is safe? Your plush home, your cosy room, your warm bed, your family or the long dark highway to nowhere, ice-cold air, rushing streams, bus tops, strangers who can kidnap, rape or kill? The answers are not as simple as they would appear. Neither is the film, Highway. And therein lies the problem.

Writer/director, Imtiaz Ali showed a lot of promise with his first film, ‘Socha Na Tha’, a simple love story rooted in reality. He went on hit some right notes with ‘Jab We Met’ in modern romance and interesting characters. With ‘Love Aaj Kal’, he started experimenting with treatment, built up a crescendo in Rockstar over something non-existent and left the audience as confused as the characters.

Highway’s Veera (Alia Bhatt) is as bold and whimsical as Jab We Met’s Geet or every heroine from Ali’s previous films. She is also as confused. And it doesn’t help when she questions herself now and again,”Main aisa kyon kar rahin hoon… Main itna bol kyon rahi hoon….” Or when she laughs and cries at the same time.

The story opens beautifully with A.R.Rehman’s score playing to a brief, sweeping shot of Northern landscapes seen though a truck’s front-view. It moves quickly to the point where Veera, the daughter of a rich, influential Delhiite, Tripathi, gets kidnapped on the eve of her wedding. Initially, the story’s pace and the Veera’s ordeal at the hands of her kidnapper, Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) is tight, realistic and engrossing enough to help you ignore the fact that Mr. Tripathi and company are not seen or heard right till the end.

Just when the action slackens and the story starts losing its momentum, Veera starts talking. As if some sort of a deeper conviction is required to go any further in her journey.

A long and awkward monologue enacted brilliantly by Alia, marred by a badly timed cut, takes the story into a completely disconnected and wild alley. The scenes get more and more contrived; the dialogues more abrupt or too Haryanvi as the otherwise silent Hooda, opens up to the chatty and strangely cheerful Veera. Again, it is Hooda’s acting, particularly a breakdown moment, along with Alia’s; which come to the script’s rescue.

But the magic is lost again as the film stretches beyond the point, where it should end. Backstories end up becoming the main story and it doesn’t help at all when the characterization of the family, is as good as trees along the way.

At one point in the latter half, the film starts becoming a travelogue with nothing happening on the snow capped peaks of Shimla, stunningly captured by Anil Mehta. An earlier shot of Alia running in circles across an endless stretch of land in the thick of a dark night; is a wonderful, cinematic moment, evocative of her fear and confusion.

Moments like these, Alia’s sensitive performance, Imtiaz’s earnest though misdirected attempt at new territories are the brighter spots on this otherwise bumpy Highway. 

No comments:

Post a Comment