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‘Highway’ review: Alia and Hooda's adventurous journey

Gayatri Sankar

Touted as one of the most awaited films of her year, Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ has indeed lived up to the hype. The filmmaker who earlier delivered - ‘Socha Na Tha’, ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Rockstar’- has now, with ‘Highway’ redefined Indian cinema and raised the bar by adopting a formula which is absolutely non-commercial. Ali knows best how to tell stories.

‘Highway’ is a breath of fresh air with beautiful storyline intricately woven with emotions, something that is dearly missing from cinema these days.

Veera (Alia Bhatt) hails from an affluent and influential family. Preparations for her wedding are on in full swing and she is desperate to escape from the formalities of pleasing the guests. She compels her fiancé to take her out for a drive secretly. But little does she know that her obstinacy would land her on the ‘Highway’ which would subsequently change her fate!

Mahavir Bhaati(Randeep Hooda), a contract criminal, along with his accomplices abducts Veera (Alia Bhatt) without any prior intention of kidnapping her. He hails from a background that has been subjected to severe exploitation at the hands of the affluent class and has strong prejudice against the rich. He is the epitome all what a girl would not want in her man.

After initial resistance, Veera starts showing symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, feels comfortable amidst her abductors and surprises them by showing no hostility towards them.

And one fine day, as she discovers newer destinations on the ‘Highway’, she opens up about her traumatic childhood to Mahavir, who is otherwise a hardcore criminal. Veera confesses to him that she doesn’t want to return to her parents and that she is in love with the endless road and wants to continue travelling aimlessly.

She has been dying to be her own self, do things what she feels like doing and be the person she wants to be. But her luxurious abode and her super-rich parents have not been able to provide her with what she has been earnestly looking for all her life - freedom.

Veera succeeds in bringing alive the human in the beastlike Mahavir and discovers his love for his mother, who raised him by toiling hard, facing hardships. His mother has been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father. Though poles apart, Mahavir and Veera, the two lonely strangers fall in love and leave behind a trail of a strange love-story.

Randeep Hooda proves to be an actor par excellence. The character of Mahavir looks tailor-made for him as he delivers an impeccable performance worth wolf-whistles. He has put in all what he could have to put a real face to the character Mahavir and by perfecting the typical Haryanvi accent. It leaves you wondering why he is so underused in Hindi cinema?

Alia Bhatt has talent galore. ‘Student of the Year’ launched her, but ‘Highway has helped Alia announce her arrival into the industry as a fine actress as well. As Veera, she will make you cry, laugh and fall in love with her.

The cinematography touches you and helps you interact with the landscape that is seldom seen on the silverscreen. The snow-capped mountains, the rivers, the blue horizon and the greenery have been beautifully captured as if they are characters in the film! They bring the unexplored or rather the ignored locales of northern India back to like on the big screen.

The background score can’t get better than what you can hear in the film. And the music is simply magical. Oscar Award winning music maestro AR Rahman is back again with melodies that will stay with you forever. The genius has made the most of the folk tradition and thus paid respect to India’s indigenous music culture that seldom finds a mention these days.

The dialogues are simple and realistic and will help you identify with the characters.

The film has its share of small glitches though. The film is too slow at various junctures and lacks velocity. The silences between the dialogues are a bit of a drag but maybe that’s intentional.

‘Highway’ emerges as a clear winner. It is not meant for movie goers who enter the theatre hoping to see some bizarre fight sequences, masaledar drama, naach-gaana or intense love-making scenes.

Nonetheless, if you are looking forward to seeing a really hatke love story then ‘Highway’ is your destination. Assemble all your emotions and gear up to watch the film this weekend.