Saturday, 22 February 2014

Film Review - Highway

The Good Road

Film: Highway
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Duration: 2 hrs
Rating: * * *

Director Imtiaz Ali steps out of his comfort zone to make a film that attempts to stray away from the weekly Bollywood fare. The result is mixed, while you appreciate the attempt, the script doesn’t have enough fire-power to push it in to the big league. Nevertheless, here is a film that either you might love or ‘not like it so much’. There will be a few reservations but chances of detesting it are slim and not many films fall in that bracket these days.

On the positive side, there is a lot to be admired. This is one of the most beautifully shot films in recent times and Alia Bhatt as an actress springs up a surprise. She plays Veera Tripathi who gets abducted by Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) just before her wedding. The kidnapper with his gang (a terrific ensemble cast) keeps moving from one place to another giving ample scope for a road movie.                   

Even though she is captive, she starts enjoying her ‘freedom’ from her family and it is not too long before the Stockholm syndrome kicks in. In Hollywood we have seen more than a dozen films on this subject and though it is not a first in India (Subhash Ghai’s Hero is perhaps the most popular film), it is not explored in depth here.

Being a thoroughbred criminal she has no qualms about it; he is a hard nut to crack but gives in eventually. The two are on the run, moving from one place to another till they settle down in one place and the second half of the film is more like a promotion for Himachal Pradesh Tourism. Visually it does look gorgeous but it does not do the story a world of good.

The finale where some uncomfortable secrets are revealed also stretches on after the point is made and I wish the film had ended a few minutes before it actually did, at the high point.

But again, the film holds your attention even when it is not all gung-ho. There are some splendid set pieces, like the one where she breaks into an impromptu dance to an English song. If you dig deep into the issues brought up here, you might draw a few blanks (like the girl suddenly discovering a new world out there) but the point about the dangers at home and outside are well intended, a little subtlety would have helped though.

A.R. Rahman’s score is music to ears and veteran Anil Mehta’s cinematography is clearly one of the assets of the film. Add to it the cast - Durgesh Kumar (as the sidekick) and Saharsh Kumar Shukla (as the creepy gang member) are unknown names, but they deliver a remarkable performance. 

Randeep Hooda plays his part well, his character demands that he grimace for most parts in the film, which he does with conviction. Student of the Year was not an ideal film to show her talent but Alia Bhatt proves she has that spark in her and credit should also be given to Imtiaz Ali for extracting a superlative performance.

You may not go gaga over this Highway but overall, it is not a bad trip at all.

Published in The Navhind Times on 23rd Feb 2014

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