Release Date : Feb 21,2014
Highway (aka) Highway review
Review by : Behindwoods Review Board
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Production: Imtiaz Ali, Sajid Nadiadwala
Cast: Alia Bhatt , Randeep Hooda
Direction: Imtiaz Ali
Screenplay: Imtiaz Ali
Story: Imtiaz Ali
Music: AR Rahman
Background score: AR Rahman
Cinematography: Anil Mehta
Editing: Aarti Bajaj
Singers: A.R.Rahman, Alia Bhatt , Jonita Gandhi, Jyoti Nooran, Kash, Krissy, Shweta Pandit, Sultan Nooran, Sunidhi Chauhan, Suvi Suresh, Zeb
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
Distribution: UTV Motion Pictures

One of the gifted directors in Bollywood to achieve a sort of middle ground in his movies blending successfully commercial elements, yet exploring relevant, contemporary themes, Imtiaz Ali has taken a sort of off the beaten track with Highway (the plot device though is very much the explored ‘road trip’ as in his other movies). With a simplistic story, Ali populates the movie with characters so strong and luminously written it is impossible to walk out of the movie hall without a heavy heart. The narrative nuance is accentuated by brilliant visuals, Rahman’s heartfelt score and actors who clutch their roles closer to their hearts like they would a puppy. Highway will be among the best movies you will see coming out of Bollywood this year.


Highway is about the curious bond a soon to be married young girl from an affluent Delhi family develops with her kidnapper – an uncouth man. The movie begins grippingly enough, setting a tone for something unpleasant and before you realize that has happened, there is a succession of events that engrosses you. Be it unpleasant or otherwise, the tone is kept consistent throughout and the movie and the relationships that develop ahead flow organically.


You know that lurking under the skin of the movie is something horrid waiting to happen. You are left without a clue as to when that would, and Imtiaz capitalizes on that feeling – so when the truck is being searched, when she gets abandoned somewhere in Himachal, when she breaks into tears gazing at the sheer beauty of gushing water, you feel the moment is near. So near you could feel it. But it is not. It strikes you like a blow when you least expect it.


There could not have been a more perfect casting decision than Alia Bhatt. It feels like Imtiaz picked Alia to get her out of her city-bred comfort zone and shake her world vigorously. She takes it all in gloriously. Her performance is deeply felt - the girl of an urban upbringing - chatty, shallow in parts, whose wide-eyed curiosity of seeing and experiencing things away from her cocooned life comes across as genuine as a bank teller’s currency notes.  Strangely, in her abduction she finds freedom from the binding ties of her family and her inner demons. She wants the trip to not end and you want that for her.


Though hidden under layers of clothing and a messy mop of head and facial hair, Randeep is quite a force in the movie. His unsympathetic demeanor, pushing her forward and daring her to run away, the slow but steady crumbling of his resoluteness – Randeep often elbows Alia out with his layered performance. And he thaws towards her for he has had a harsh upbringing with little or no love to show or receive. That lawless thug’s hard exterior peels off with unexpected kindness from a stranger. His is a love deeply entrenched in intense cynicism – ‘kya karegi mere saath aake? Shaadi karegi mujhse?’ he asks her in exasperation. Randeep portrays it with staunch conviction that it is difficult to forget his character long after the movie is over. As Alia’s character says, ‘plan nahin hai, bus thodi aur time tumhare saath.’ He wants it too but he is rational and does not want to side with such spontaneous decisions because he has seen enough in life.


The narrative pauses and cadences, punctuated by rustic and charming visuals aided by wonderfully unobtrusive cinematography (by Anil Mehta), characterize the movie. Rahman's music is like a narrative form on its own; it is like a gush of fresh blood up your veins that invigorates your body, like the second rail that's crucial for a train’s movement. Songs form as much part of the narrative as much the actors’ quirks are.


It is not all glum, tender moments after tender moments unfurl with the immediacy of a ticking time bomb. You heartily laugh at scenes such as this one - Alia breaking into a disco, partly to break the monotony and partly to celebrate her newfound, uncertain freedom. The penultimate scenes though feel a wee bit dramatic and what follows next is not quite uncommon to come out of a Bollywood movie.


Highway grips you from the word go and its pace doesn’t slacken. It is an intense cinematic experience that will consume you with its brilliance. Watch it for its lead pair, the taut narrative, Rahman’s music and the visuals.

Verdict: A rewarding road trip about freedom and loss
( 3.5 / 5.0 )


Highway (aka) Highway

Highway (aka) Highway is a Hindi movie with production by Imtiaz Ali, Sajid Nadiadwala, direction by Imtiaz Ali, cinematography by Anil Mehta, editing by Aarti Bajaj. The cast of Highway (aka) Highway includes Alia Bhatt , Randeep Hooda.