I steered on to the Highway (Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda) with much trepidation this evening.
This Alia Bhatt creature (heroine of Highway) was completely alien to me.
And given my utter contempt for supremely untalented Indian ‘star children’ (Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan, Fardeen Khan, Tusshar Kapoor, Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha etc), I had abysmal expectations from Alia Bhatt (daughter of Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt and actress Sonia Razdan).
Boy, did Alia surprise me and prove my fears to be entirely unfounded.
Alia and her new film Highway turned out to be one of those rare Indian movie aberrations – a talented young actress headlining a pleasing Bollywood film.
I had to pinch myself repeatedly throughout the film to assure myself I was not dreaming!
Highway (directed by Imtiaz Ali) already seems to be benefiting from positive word of mouth.
At a theatre on the East Coast, the hall was over 60% full for the evening show Friday!
Long Road – Many Changes
Veera Tripathy (Alia Bhatt), daughter of a wealthy businessman, is scheduled to get married to a rich boy in a few days.
But with the hectic wedding preparations, countless guests, and endless rituals, the young girl finds the atmosphere at home suffocating.
As a respite, Veera quietly skips out of the house for a late night drive with her fiancee.
Minutes into the drive, they stumble into a gas station hold-up by a criminal gang led by Mahabir Bhatti (Randeep Hooda).
While fleeing, the criminals kidnap Veera without realizing she’s the daughter of a billionaire whose enormous wealth and connections to top police officers and politicians could doom them.
With the kidnapping, the movie goes into top gear taking us on a lengthy road trip in a dilapidated truck that ends in the snowy peaks of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir.
The photography on the long road trip that transports the two main characters from the plains to the desert, salt flats, verdant fields and finally into the snowy mountains is an eye-pleaser, again a rara avis in Hindi films.
It’s not merely the topography that changes along the long road trip.
Director Imtiaz Ali uses the lengthy trip to showcase how the two main characters change along the trip.
Veera at the beginning of the road trip is an agitated, scared girl and her kidnapper Mahabir is a violent ruffian who wouldn’t think twice before slapping her, trussing her up and forcefully dragging her along into the hinterlands in a rickety truck in hopes of a rich ransom.
But by the end of the journey, both Veera and Mahabir are a far cry from their earlier selves. More so, after Veera discloses to Mahabir some of the unspeakable horrors of her childhood .
What happens between the two on the long road trip?
That they get close is a certainty. But how so?
Stockholm Syndrome? Love? Affection? Friendship?
Take your pick! 😉
A.R.Rehman’s music (particularly Patakha Guddi) compounds the charm.
On the acting front, I found the movie a joy.
With Highway, 21-year-old Alia Bhatt has arrived as an actress on the Bollywood stage.
Carrying the film on her svelte shoulders, Alia makes chutney of the gaggle of Bollywood witches Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha whose sole raison d’être is to torment us at frequent intervals.
Randeep Hooda doesn’t say much in the film.
But the man is a master of expressions and says so much even when he speaks so little.
What a shame we don’t see him more often on the big screen.
The last 25-minutes of the film brings out the best in both Alia and Randeep. Great pair, solid chemistry!
Besides the two main actors, the lesser characters played by Durgesh Kumar, Pradeep Nagar and Saharsh Kumar Shukla also shine.
Right from the beginning, we know there won’t be a happy ending and the two prime characters themselves openly discuss that nothing but ruin awaits them around the corner.
The Bollywood road is invariably dotted with countless potholes and for once it was a treat for us to experience a smooth drive on a road less taken.
To my immense delight, I did not find a single gauche moment in Highway!
SearchIndia.com is mighty pleased to recommend Highway to all lovers of good cinema.
Highway is playing in theaters across America.