Highway Review



I delayed seeing this film for the longest time because people mentioned that it’s depressive. But Highway is not a very depressive film. There are things in the film which makes one feel bad at times and the ending isn’t precisely a happy one. But still, the film leaves hope in the audience and there are fun moments in the film to lighten the mood.

The story of the film is very interesting. When news of this film first broke out, there were rumors that this film was about the Stockholm Syndrome. This is when a prisoner develops empathy for his or her captor. Actually, I don’t think that Highway is about the Stockholm Syndrome. It would be misleading to say that. Although it’s true that the Veera character may have “mistaken lack of abuse by her captor as kindness,” I think that there is more to their relationship than that. I think the bond that the captor and the hostage share in this film is more about their past traumas. I think they bond over their sadness.

Stockholm Syndrome on the other hand, is more like an irrational relationship, an unexplained empathy towards a captor. And I don’t think that in every case where this psychological phenomenon occurs, there is a lack of abuse. Sometimes there is abuse, but the hostage still doesn’t dislike the captor. It’s like a survival mechanism of the psyche when the brain wants to believe that things aren’t as bad as they seem in order to survive the ordeal. And for the person to believe that, he or she must like the captor. But in Highway, things really aren’t bad. The journey is actually pleasant and enjoyable for Veera.

Highway is more about a girl wanting to get away from her life and her home and never finding the opportunity for it. Her kidnapping becomes that opportunity. And for some reason, she trusts her kidnapper and feels secure with him, something she had never felt before, even inside her own home. I think Veera sees Mahabir as her savior from that life which she desperately wanted to leave.

Jahan se tum mujhe laaye ho, main wahan wapas jaana nahi chaahti.. jaha le ja rahe ho waha pauchna nahi chahti.. Par ye rasta, bahut achha hai..

In the earliest scene of the film, Veera talks about how she wants to run away and make a home on top of a mountain. When she’s walking and running through the fields, laying on her back and watching the sky, climbing a tree, or watching the hustling water in a cold river, she looks like she belongs there. Nature is therapy for her. It heals her wounds. She was meant for the road. She is a part of it and when she’s away, she’s like a fish out of water.

The kidnapper also finds something in his hostage. In some scenes, it seems that he finds a mother in her. Randeep’s character, Mahabir, in the beginning of the film hated rich people. But in a short time, he realized that this girl isn’t like a rich girl, she’s actually like him. They are very similar despite coming from different backgrounds. And they both have a childhood trauma which sort of binds them together. I loved  Mahabir’s confused and unsure reactions every time Veera did something or said something that surprised him. He is caught by surprise repeatedly, like he can’t believe how this rich strange girl can be so familiar, so comforting.

Their relationship is confusing at times. Is it love? Is it affection? Is it security? Or familiarity? It’s difficult to label, but it’s beautiful indeed. They have a kind of bond that very few people find in this world. A bond that carries a sense of belonging, a sense of completion, purity and peace.

I’m so impressed by Alia and Randeep Hooda. Both have done so well in this film. Randeep Hooda is beyond good. His character has a very stern, rough appearance in this film but deep inside, he is rather gentle and sensitive. Randeep portrayed the nuances of this character to perfection. I think that his performance also heightened Alia’s performance. His reactions to her made her character all the more important. I love his performance in the scene on the mountain when he peeks into the house watching Veera. Every time he intends to go in, he is unable to and he has to take a break because he becomes very emotional.

I think that the chemistry was very good, not just in terms of the characters, but also as actors. I think actors require some feedback from one another. Some actors can pass the energy and emotion of a scene back and forth between dialogues like a tennis match. It’s this kind of interaction that results in great scenes and great films. I saw a similar type of feedback between Randeep and Alia in this film.

Alia was fantastic. I saw 2 States before I saw Highway but her performance in Highway was much better. She’s a natural. I can’t believe that this is only her second film. She has impressed me by doing a film and role like this after Student Of The Year. She is extremely talented, natural and she also has a beautiful voice (she sang part of a song in this film).

I sometimes read comments about Alia being overrated or too young. In my opinion, she is not overrated at all. I think she deserves praise particularly for this performance. I also don’t understand the hypocrisy of the film industry. Everyone keeps saying that an actress has a shelf life. I don’t believe that, but if that’s the case, then isn’t it a good thing that Alia has started out young? I don’t deny she looks young but she’s not exactly a baby. She’s very apt and capable of playing a heroine. Of course, she ought not be placed opposite someone her father’s age.

In my opinion, Imtiaz Ali has done it again. Sometimes I can’t believe that this is the same person who made films like Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met. Since Rockstar, he seems to have made a shift toward slightly gloomy, more dramatic, more emotional films. I have no problem with it. I’d much prefer a Highway to a Socha Na Tha. And what made Jab We Met work so well was the cast and performances. So I think he is a much better filmmaker today but I also know that a part of the audience does not like this change in his films. Many people would want another Jab We Met. Let’s see how Tamasha turns out, which is Imtiaz Ali’s next, starring Ranbir and Deepika.

I’ve noticed that in every film, Imtiaz Ali makes a trip to Kashmir, or some other mountainous place. Sometimes I wonder if the film is an excuse to go to the mountains! But I’m not complaining because the views were gorgeous. I could almost smell that fresh mountain air.

I loved the film. It was a good reminder that we need to stop judging people based on their outer appearance or social status. People are people and we’re all very similar. Regardless of which environment we were born into, we go through our share of traumas and difficulties. And there is nothing more important than security and peace in life. Aren’t we all searching for these? If you haven’t seen Highway yet, see it with an open mind. You’ll discover something beautiful.


3 thoughts on “Highway Review

  1. What I really enjoyed about Highway is that it had an underlying spiritual message, the idea of oneness, as you mentioned. Alia and Randeep performed extremely well to bring out this sentiment and I particularly like that Imtiaz Ali chose not to put a label on their relationship. It’s almost as if putting a label would have tarnished the purity and innocence of their emotional connection, which was one of the central themes that kept the movie going for me. As someone who absolutely LOVED this film, I totally agree with many of the points you made in your review 🙂

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