“Everyone dreams of doing so, of running away from this City and its artificial, caging life; but no one does. No one gets to see that freedom. But I have.”
It is an artificial world, with artificial customs, feigning habits that it dubs as sophistication, where open souls are caged and the adaptive ones are left to propagate the traditions. We are just left cursing it, just dreaming of escapade, yet again, left passive. Nobody acts. Veera did not; but destiny had something in store. She is gifted.
Just at the brink of marriage, Veera is kidnapped in a dramatic incident. As she says in the car while her fiancé drives, “Dimaag ke saare knots khul rahe hain” (All knots of the brain are untying), she is yet to realize that the real untying shall begin post kidnap. Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) is the angel for her, the one who opens the new Vistas of living for Veera.
‘Highway’ is an amalgamation, a double narrative of how the protagonist finds freedom, and in freedom, love; but this is not a traditional love story. Veera and Mahabir are not lovers; they are two brutalised souls who find solace in each other’s company. The victim finding solace in the kidnapper? Strange it is, but Imtiaz Ali does not leave room for question. It is quite obvious for someone to feel safe with a person who saves her from being molested by one of his partners. I did not find it off-beat. Her mother did not let her cry out against her lustful uncle, this abductor is at least better than a senseless mother who shoos away molestation incidents for the sake of that artificial integrity which bites our protagonist. This abduction has not taken her away from her life; it’s the other way round actually, and Ali is successful in showing us this.
Anil Mehta has been a delightful cinematographer making us feel our presence in almost all settings of this movie that is filmed across six states. Be it the salty planes in Rajasthan, or the chilly winds in the Himalayas. A R Rehman has lent a delightful music completely harmonious with the mood of the movie. Personally, I liked ‘Patakha Guddi’ by Nooran sisters the most.
Alia Bhatt has been exceptional in fulfilling all nuances that Veera requires. Highway brings her forth as an actress, proudly open to scrutiny and failing nowhere. She seems to have delved deep into Veera especially when she opens up about how hollow all the elite, sophisticated society is back where she lives thinking it as her home. Her home is there where she prepares Maggi and cleans that small hut on the mountain slope. She had finally found home. Mahabir had finally found a soul to disclose his woes. They had both rescued each other before the “real” rescuers took Veera from her true rescuer. Mahabir is shot dead. Frankly, I thought it would be Veera’s end too; but she had to spit in the face of the elite, she had to run back to her freedom, she had to run back to Mahabir.
Imtiaz Ali has created a delightful piece. An accidental encounter with rebirth, with life, with reality sans hypocrisy, with comfort and contentment, with happiness and a consequential compassionate embrace to it is what Ali makes Veera go through. And she finds a direction. It makes her fly free.
I would never regret having watched this movie. I am happy I watched it.