Travel has been an intrinsic part of all Imtiaz Ali films right from Socha Na Tha to Rockstar but with Highway, the filmmaker takes you on an unforgettable road trip that not only touches you but also leaves you with ample to mull over.
An otherwise free-spirited girl Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt), daughter of a rich businessman, gets claustrophobic with all her relatives gearing her up for her marriage. Fed up with the suffocating environment, she calls her fiance in the middle of the night and much against his will insists on going for a drive towards the highway. Their drive goes horribly wrong and leaves Veera in the hands of a goon Mahabir Bhatti (Randeep Hooda) who kidnaps her. On learning her privileged background he keeps her at ransom and takes her along state to state only to realize life has something else in stores for him as he finds Veera enjoying her freedom whilst with him.
It's after Socha Na Tha that Imtiaz Ali brings about an infectious innocence in his film that instantly strikes a chord with the audience. The movie starts at a languid pace and keeps to it right till the end but doesn't give you a chance to complain for it takes you along with its journey making you feel for the characters, their joy, inhibitions, pathos et al. Imtiaz Ali who's had a strong hand at capturing emotions of the Gen-X once again taps the young minds and tackles their concerns with utmost sensitivity.
One of the strongest points in the film is casting. The director almost nails the casting by roping in Alia Bhatt who gives a startling performance. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that the movie thrives on her young yet strong shoulders as she delivers one flawless sequence after the other. There couldn't be another actor than Randeep Hooda to complement her well. The man who is listed amongst one of the hottest men of India easily slips into the unkempt goon's role and is spot on in the mannerisms, accent etc. There's ample soul in the chemistry between the two and you literally feel for the character.
The movie does get melodramatic towards the second half with the layers of Mahabir's character peeling off but it's the actors' histrionics that keep your interest in the film going.
This review is not complete without the soulful music by AR Rahman that adds richness to the picturesque landscape and the breathtaking cinematography of the scenic Himachal.
To sum it up, Highway is tantalizingly delicious and a journey you would want to embark on. Must watch.
Critic: Mansha Rastogi
(3.5 / 5) : Very Good