To review a movie that connects with you at a philosophical level is always a challenge because you cannot really pinpoint what made that movie experience great for you. All you know is that it was. Highway is one of those movies for me. It is the second time Imitiaz Ali steps outside the box and simply delivers a story without any inhibitions (the first was Rockstar in my books). What he delivers onscreen is true to the script and the characters he created.
The film is a milestone for everyone who is a part of it. To say Alia Bhatt has jumped leaps and bounds with this second film of hers is a gross understatement. You truly become her throughout the journey. You feel the pain, the freedom and the satisfaction of finally being at peace that Veera eventually feels. Randeep Hooda delivers what is as raw and as organic as a performance can be. He brings to the screen the multiple facets of Mahaveer very beautifully. At various points its the sheer glance or a moment of silence that conveys his emotions. Whilst we know that he can rock the grudgy-Haryanvi-goon persona any day what is a revelation is how he balances that with the vulnerability of his character as the latter is not something we’ve seen him do often.
With Highway Imitiaz has penned the story of a very ‘real’ girl in a not-so-real situation. Its the perfect combination because whilst you are prepared to go on an unreal journey of extraordinary circumstances, what you do want is people you can perhaps relate to or at the least, understand. Here Veera’s realisations become your realisations because you understand where she is coming from.
Imitiaz also packs Veera with loads of unintentional comic sequences that deserve a salute such as the moment when she thanks her kidnappers for bringing her to a beautiful place or when she realises that she can’t stop babbling after 3 days of remaining in silence. The writing also draws parallels to aspects of the world that we are so accustomed to but truth be told are aspects that are perhaps a bit archaic. He points out our un-understandable need to fake niceties, the need to put a veil over anything and everything we don’t want to deal with and of course the highlight characteristic of society, to keep face amongst people you don’t even care about but who’s opinions somehow mean the world to us. Through Veera’s journey we realise that these aspects are also very much part of our lives its only that we’ve never stopped to reflect and it so happens that in such an unlikely circumstance Veera has been given the opportunity to reflect. Above all you appreciate Veera’s candour and honesty, characteristics that grow as the character progresses in her journey.
It would be extremely ignorant to finish off this review with throwing a grand salute in the direction of Mr Anil Mehta without him I don’t think we would have been as engrossed in Veera’s journey. His cinematography is what makes you jealous of a character that has been kidnapped because to you in the cinema hall seat it comes as she’s going on a journey of a life time! Tourism India ought to pay the man some real credit for what he’s done for the country through his lens in this film. The second grand salute goes to Mr A R Rahman for breathing life into the journey. “Implosive Silence” is the track that truly shines in the film.
Whilst critics of Highway will be plenty for me it remains as the first film in which Imitiaz gets its completely right! (Because lets face it, the casting of Rockstar made its far far less than perfect!) What he’s presented is a completely unadulterated script true to the story he wanted to be told. Its a story that I thought was worth a listen so maybe you will too. If you’re not sold on the philosophy than at the least definitely give it a shot if not for anything else than for performances of a lifetime by Alia and Randeep and for Anil Mehta’s visuals.