Out Now On-Demand
A young city girl is abducted for ransom and becomes attached to her captors in this Bollywood drama.
Rating: M Violence
Hindi with English subtitles
Any new film from Imtiaz Ali is eagerly awaited, not just because of his unique take on love but also his evolving storytelling, which is how every filmmaker should grow. This Highway goes in the right direction.
Young, rich, protected bride-to-be Veera Tripathy is kidnapped by a bunch of petty, rustic criminals after she witnesses a robbery. Mahabir Bhaati, the leader, takes her with him in his truck as he traverses North India while his associates demand ransom. This could have become Stockholm Syndrome by way of Bollywood melodrama but instead Highway is a story about two different worlds clashing and creating a human bond between them.
Imtiaz Ali has removed himself from the comfort zone of commercial storytelling, weaving a raw, uneven tale shorn of emotional manipulation. Employing his favourite themes of painful epiphany via love and the price of freedom and his favourite locations of Ajmer Sharif and Himachal Pradesh, Ali creates a new paradigm for mainstream Indian cinema.
The diverse beauty of rural India is a character in this story. There are long moments of silence, uncomfortable, beautiful and empty, even if filled with song – for example, when Veera sees the Milky Way for the first time. Freedom as an internal concept fits very well within that.
Alia Bhatt as Veera, in only her second role, is compelling and Randeep Hooda as Mahabir is so good one can forget what a handsome man he is really - both are complex parts to play. AR Rehman’s score enhances the story and the cinematography, sound design and all the character actors are of a superior quality.
One can argue about whether it is truly love between Veera and Mahabir or two humans connecting on a shared journey, and the film’s ending is clunky but it takes a fearless filmmaker to even get to that point. Very highly recommended.