It was a Friday evening. We couldn’t wait to wrap up our work quickly and get back home. And because it was Friday, it meant ‘the dinner feast’ night. It meant whipping up a fancy treat for us. Why? Because it is Friday. We like to be a little indulgent on Fridays. Why? *Rolls eyes* Because it is Friday. And because we feel the happiest on Fridays in anticipation of the two-day holiday.
The weekend was upon us. A relaxed and a lazy Saturday on the cards. We rushed through our dinner feast and wrapped up the kitchen quickly. We will realise later that we shouldn’t have. We had decided to watch ‘Highway’ and had been looking forward to it since morning. TCG and I had read some reviews, reviews that were highly polarized. Now we all know that never judge a movie by its reviews, but we can’t deny that the reviews at least help us eliminate out the ones that are absolute crap. So, some said it had a good premise, some said it didn’t quite succeed in making the cut. Some said that it is the kind of movie, where you know that the director is trying to attempt something new, something unconventional, but ‘that trying to show something different’ effort continuously shows on screen. We felt like just going in to the movie with an open mind and giving Imtiaz Ali a fair chance to make his point, for the sake of his previous good work.
*Highway movie – Spoiler alert*
The first hour or so was not that bad, because you are waiting for the interesting part to come. The story is building up and so is your excitement, hoping that there would be something different to see. You want to see why the director has cast such an odd leading pair. Randeep Hooda kidnaps Alia Bhat (don’t even remember their names in the movie) and takes her away to some place mysterious. There are fleeting eye contacts between them, and you are hoping against hope for this not to turn in to a love story. The plot becomes somewhat questionable when the kidnapee (if there is such a word) doesn’t take the golden chance she has to escape when the patrolling police stop the truck she is being transported in. You wonder why? She might not have had a very happy life before the whole kidnapping episode, but that still doesn’t explain why she would want to hang around with her kidnappers and not take that chance to be free.
You try to digest this, thinking she might have her reasons to do that. But then all of sudden, she spills her guts out to her kidnapper. Out of nowhere, she starts telling him the story of her childhood horror. You wonder why? What triggered this? Shouldn’t her natural reaction to her kidnapper be that of anger and mistrust? You question why she would tell such personal things to a not just a stranger, but her kidnapper. What is she expecting from a person who is wrong to begin with? Sympathy? If you put yourself in that situation even for a second, would you feel angry and revolted at the thought of being kidnapped or would you feel chirpy and start confiding in him? She has been kidnapped only a couple of days ago and it is not like there is any emotional bond between them for her to make such personal revelations.
Alia feels liberated, probably because of her troubled past. She was kidnapped in front of her beau, and he didn’t do much except give her an inopportune I-told-you-so comment. So you understand that she has lost complete faith in her family; her uncle, her mother and even her beau. But opposite of losing trust in family doesn’t mean putting trust in a complete stranger, a kidnapper. There are whole range of colours between black and white. At this point, your rational mind just doesn’t agree with her actions. What is she thinking? Is she thinking two wrongs will make a right? And the thought that keeps hammering your mind constantly is why would you want to open up and bond with your kidnapper?
The plot takes a serious nosedive when she falls in love with him, sings songs and starts dancing to English music, much to the entertainment of the other fellow kidnapper. The shift in her mood from that initial bout of fright to feeling a sudden sense of elation and liberation in captivity feels unreal. And this is where we stopped watching. We couldn’t take it anymore.
You see a movie like ‘12 years a slave’ and then you see ‘Highway’, you can’t help but compare. Soloman Northup in ‘12 years a slave’ is also held captive, leading a life of slavery and drudgery beyond imagination. But like Highway, you don’t see a sudden absurd transition of emotions from one extreme to another. Unlike Highway, he doesn’t go from being ‘very very angry’ to being ‘happy’ just because he feels that there might never be a free life for him now, so might as well be happy here. He is patient. He never loses his focus and he is forever looking for a chance to freedom for 12 years. 12 years is a long time for your goals to fizzle out, to accept your fate, to lose steam, to not get angered anymore, or to even want to be free again. But he is hopeful and he hasn’t made his peace with slavery. He certainly doesn’t fall in love with anyone during that time. Because, love is not necessarily a part of every story. At least not the man-woman, hero-heroine kind of love. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock were the lead pair in Gravity. But can you imagine them to be romantically linked in the movie? NO, right?
Can’t we get this simple thing drilled tightly into our minds? When will commercial Bollywood movies stop making the ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ fall in love in every single movie even if it feels forced, unwanted and unreal? When will we grow tired of love-themed movies? When will we explore newer subjects?
My thoughts on this movie may be prejudiced, and I may not be entirely right about my observations because we never made it to the end. I don’t know what happened next and how the story unfolded. The movie ended for me here.
I wish we hadn’t rushed through our Friday evening feast.