(Thanks to SI Blog reader rvasam who first alerted me to the lift)
Let’s get to the big question right away.
Is Bollywood film Highway a lift of the 1994 Hollywood movie The Chase?
The short answer – Yes, to a significant, unignorable, inexcusable, unpardonable degree.
There are far too many similarities between Highway and The Chase to be dismissed as mere coincidence.
Imtiaz Ali claims to have “written and directed” the Bollywood film Highway.
I will throw a sop to the Bollywood Cerberus and concede that Highway is directed by Imtiaz Ali.
But “written” by Imtiaz Ali?
Now, that’s a delusion so bizarre it can only be matched by yours truly claiming to be Alexander the Great!
Don’t make me laugh, kiddo.
Highway director Imtiaz Ali is a shameless thief and Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda are his two accomplices in crime.
In retrospect, I should have been more Argus-eyed with Imtiaz Ali.
Remember how the hit song Yeh Ishq Hai in his 2007 film Jab We Met was stolen from Anggun’s Etre Une Femme.
Imtiaz Ali is like a car thief who after purloining a two-decade-old jalopy paints it in a different color, changes the license plates, rolls back the odometer, sprays some car freshener and peddles it as new.
In short, Imtiaz Ali has stolen the plot of The Chase and Indianized it as Highway.
Also, keep in mind that Highway producer Sajid Nadiadwala is a big-time criminal who stole the plot of the French film Trois hommes et un couffin (Hollywood version: Three Men and a Baby) and regurgitated it as Heyy Babyy (Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan).
Highway – My Anguish
Rarely do I like a Bollywood movie.
Most Indian movies are unwatchable trash made by talentless scumbags for the viewing pleasure of degenerate philistines.
So when a SI blog reader mentioned last night that the new Bollywood movie Highway, one that I greatly loved, was lifted from the Hollywood film The Chase I found myself in deep anguish. Almost, in extremis!
Oh, not again, I told myself!
I wanted to find out if Highway was one more instance of Bollywood dickheads overcoming their poverty of imagination by stealthily stooping to deep-throat Hollywood.
And I decided the best way to determine if Highway is the nullius filius of The Chase was to see it for myself rather than rely on hearsay.
A short while ago, I completed watching The Chase and here’s my considered verdict.
Too Many Similarities – No Coincidence
Here are a whole bunch of damning similarities between Highway (2014) and the two-decade old Hollywood film The Chase (1994):
1. In both films, the basic backdrop, against which all other events happen, is the kidnapping of a young girl.
2. In both films, the kidnapping happens without intent, meaning that the crime is not planned.
3. In both films, the kidnapping happens as a result of another crime (in Highway while Mahabir is fleeing after attacking a gas-station and in The Chase when Jackson Hammond, a prison escapee, panics after the police question him about the car he’s stolen).
4. In both films, the kidnapping happens at a gas station.
5. In both films, the kidnapper is unaware he is snatching a girl from an extremely wealthy family.
6. In both films, the kidnapping is believed by outsiders to have been done for ransom though money is not the original intent.
7. In both films, the girl expresses feeling sick (car-sickness in The Chase and claustrophobia in Highway) and voices the urge to throw up (vomit).
8. In both films, the girl is shown puking in the early moments after the kidnapping.
9. In both films, the girl’s father is a billionaire.
10. In both films, the extraordinary wealth of the girl’s father is repeatedly highlighted by third parties (“She is Manek Tripathy’s daughter,” exclaim awed outsiders in Highway and Natalie’s status as “Dalton Voss’ daughter” comes up in The Chase in reverent tones at the police station).
11. In both films, the girl initially comes across as a normal teenager but as the movie progresses we sense that she is more than a bit of an oddball with some family issues troubling her.
12. In both films, the kidnapper is shown as a character you can actually like or at least empathize with.
13. In both films, there is a long road journey.
14. In both films, the road trip is as important, as interesting and as dramatic as the kidnapping (thanks to varied topography, folk singers in the desert, snowy mountains etc in Highway and the two hilarious cops in the pursuing car, the TV media circus, the chase and those two crazy whackos in the green monster truck in The Chase).
15. In both films, the girl’s attitude toward her situation and the kidnapper changes dramatically over the long road journey.
16. In both films, the girl develops deep love/affection/fondness for the guy.
17. In both films, the kidnapper offers the girl a chance to leave (in the second half of Highway and toward the end in The Chase).
18. In both films, the girl is unhappy with the kidnapper’s offer asking her to leave.
19. In both films, the girl seems dissatisfied with her wealthy family and indifferent to money.
20. In both films, the girl is shown to have a testy relationship with her mother/step-mother.
21. In both films, the kidnapper develops great affection/love for the girl.
22. In both films, the kidnapper is reckless and determined at the beginning but as time goes by becomes fatalistic and pessimistic about the final outcome.
23. In both films, the girl is shown in later stages to be mentally stronger and more resilient than her kidnapper about escaping from the cops.
24. In both films, there is a bloody shootout in the final moments.
25. In both films, the wealthy girl goes down a road less taken/rarely taken by one so rich.
26. In both films, the girl ultimately abandons her family.
Differences? – Escape Hatch
There are, of course, differences between the two movies.
Why wouldn’t there be differences between Highway and The Chase?
Hey, Bollywood film makers may be thieves but they’re not blockheads!
Differences exist between the two films because the Bollywood chors (thieves) want to leave the escape hatch open if they get sued by Hollywood.
What About The Chase?
The Chase is a hilarious movie, more of a comedy.
The writing is outrageously funny in some scenes and Charlie Sheen does a nice job of a decent but desperate man trapped in a horrible situation.
I found the girl (Kristy Swanson) to be good, particularly her initiation of the car-sex scene.
Both the media and the police come in for rough treatment for the way they handle the kidnapping.
And the disconnect between what the TV anchors/police think and the reality in the car is a hoot.
Since the focus is mostly on the kidnapper Jackson Hammond (Charlie Sheen) in The Chase, the Bollywood knaves shifted the attention to the girl in Highway as an escape parachute from possible lawsuits while keeping a lot of other things constant.
Don’t let the low rating for The Chase deter you from seeing it.
This is one instance where the reviewers got it wrong.
I was initially disappointed with the ending of The Chase.
But upon reflection and considering the comedic thread running through the length of the film I suppose the ending is appropriate.
I have learned a bitter lesson from Highway and The Chase.
The next time a Bollywood movie turns out to be an enjoyable experience, I will not wait for my readers to alert me.
I will first ask in stentorian tones, Where did the Chutiyas Steal this From?
Assuming a lot of readers have seen Highway or plan to see it, you can check out the similarities with The Chase, which is available on Google’s YouTube.