Has Imtiaz Ali cheated because Highway isn’t anything even remotely close to what we usually expect from the filmmaker after terrific works like Jab We Met and Rockstar. With Highway he undeniably slips. It is a frustrating film that will leave you angry. Imtiaz clearly wasted his caliber over leisurely making a movie that is strictly respectable for its lack of connection and conviction. The film’s hero is A.R Rahman and everyone else puts up an infuriatingly washed out show as compared to him. Let’s just settle with saying that it was a proficiently thought film that we see moving inevitably towards death, putting us through excruciating heartbreak and pain through its run time. Mr Ali, what on earth happened to you?
The film begins at a posh locality in Delhi where a rich businessman’s daughter VeeraTripathi (Alia Bhatt) is tying the knot with another who’s who of the city. A few days short of the wedding, the to-be bride who is quickly prone to claustrophobia blackmails her fiance to take her on a nightly drive down to the highway. At a gas station which was being burgled, they stop. Amidst all the loot the gang leader MahabirBhati (RandeepHooda) kidnaps Veera. With her father’s political connections, it is a daredevil thing for Mahabir who then embarks on a journey from state to state to keep buying time until Alia is sold off successfully into prostitution. How from antagonists do Mahabir and Veera affectionately land up on the same plane is story that needs to be heard in this one.
RandeepHooda is brooding and fearsome for most part. Ever since the actor’s advent in the industry, he has carefully selected roles which allow him to perfect the act of snarling and grunting. Hooda is damn good in the first half and in the rest he just repeats it all to the extent of overdoing it.
Alia Bhatt never got out of playing her bimbo character from Student Of The Year and the actress plays Veera with a similar quotient of nascent energy. However rendering the same excitement in tackling a sensitive film like this, it would have been advisable to tone down the ecstatic drift of story to find something more serene and meaningful. I would have easily said she is a terrible actress especially after watching the scene in which she runs to take the bus with Randeep, yelling, screeching, her nostrils flaring enough to make me laugh. But in the last 15 minutes she steals the thunder proving her mettle with the ease of a pro.
Highway whips up all the ingredients required for an intriguing film but goes wrong as a whole. It is bold subject handled flimsily and doesn’t come close to believable. There is excessive heavy handedness in the screenplay and somehow the effortless ease that signifies the beauty of Imtiaz’s films is absolutely missing from it. There is far too much of incoherence in the screenplay to bear and though it tried its hand at adding varied hues to multiple layers of the story, one cannot disagree to the fact that it is only Rahman’s divine music and the pristine cinematography that works here. It left me baffled and numb especially because I expect better from Ali. It is heartbreakingly mediocre and I am settling for ratings which translate the same. It is a lenient 2.5/5 for Highway.