Feminism is the radical notion that women are people said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded definitio...

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Back from watching the much-maligned "Highway" which I liked a lot, and having gone through most reviews which ranged from tepid to hostile, I decided to write this piece. Hopefully the handful (or less) of you who will read this, will at least consider watching it instead of an outright dismissal. 

Finally, we have a Hindi movie in which the central character is that of a woman and the focus of the entire movie is her growth and evolution as a person. Hats off to Imtiaz Ali for pulling off a stunning piece and extracting out of of Alia Bhatt, a performance which is probably going to remain one of her finest.

I'm not very sure if Imtiaz Ali set out to make a feminist movie, but this coming-of-age drama, wrapped around a road trip is just that : a rare Hindi movie that displays in full measure a true growing-up of Hindi cinema. (Since I'm not familiar with multi hued regional language cinema of our nation, I refrain from using the term "Indian cinema" for obvious reasons.)

Empathy is a quality fast receding from our collective conscience, as a society and this is but a reflection of the values held by its members at large. This movie yet again proves my point, you don't have to be a woman to be a feminist; having heartfelt empathy for fellow humans is enough.

Veera (Alia's character) is really every middle/ upper class Indian girl. She comes from a rich family. She is kidnapped, and forced on a road trip. 

The point to be noted is that she herself is not rich, rather it's her family which is rich. She seems to have no control over what goes on around her, which is not atypical of such situations. 

Her kidnapper, (a character played with great aplomb by Randeep Hooda ) takes her on a journey which parallels the one of self-discovery and assertion of her own identity. 

The circumscribed existence of Veera, constantly being kept in check by her family, is suffocating her, and she is reluctant to return to it even after having been set free. 

At one point her character says, she knows she neither wants to go back to the proscribed world of her parents, nor does she particularly want to "settle down" with her former kidnapper. 

Also, dealt with great sensitivity is the growing relationship between her and her former kidnapper, a kind of love story, given a very different treatment from the run-of-mil Bollywood fare.

The assertion of her character, that she wants to be her own person, rings true, and that, I think, is the biggest strength of the movie.The little touch at the very end where she's depicted holding a copy of "Women Who Run With The Wolves" has it's own tale to tell. Perhaps it was too easy a prop to fall back upon, but truth be told, it warmed the cockles of my heart to see it up there. 

For the serene, soulful music of A.R.Rahman, for the glorious shots of the prettiest parts of our country, for still, silent characters with pared down dialogues and faces which speak loudly but in silence, go watch "HIGHWAY". It's a different kind of ride ! 

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. I was lucky that I was handed a ripped version of the movie (don't ask!). I was so moved when I saw this movie, that I saw it once again right away. Then once more. Now I watch it when I please, and the bits that I love.

    I love the work everyone put in. Randeep (Amazing), Alia (Surprising), Aado (Endearing), Imtiaz (No words). Also all other actors, even the Punjabi Policemen.

    Thanks for drawing my attention to the book Alia holds in her arms at the end.

    Lovely review.