Highway Of Bitter-Sweet Breathlessness

Once every year, I get this undescribable urge to see a movie.For reasons unknown to me, there happens to be precisely one movie that clenches me like hell, long before I even get to see in the theatre. Last year, it was Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che that left me wallowing in a puddle of enchantement. And this year, exactly a year later, it is Imitiaz Ali’s Highway.

Highway portrays a problematic picture. It baffles you in ways more than one. No, it isn’t the story line that would leave you scratching your head in utter desperation to figure out where exactly it is heading. It is the way you feel about it, for one of the movie reviews that mentioned that Highway ‘teaches you to feel’ couldn’t have been more wrong. It doesn’t teach, it urges you to feel. You will be left grappling with your own apprehensions and inklings, sentiments and sensibilities to figure out whether you like it or just plain hate it. But you can choose either. Or probably both.

The film is fundamentally misplaced in many ways. For one, Alia Bhatt who is periliously scared to be among the goons ends up thanking them for her proverbial freedom and that too within a day of being abducted. It wouldn’t take you a rocket scientist to understand that the dawn of Freedom was terribly and arbitrarily rushed. In the first few minutes, I was intermittently glaring at the screen, waiting in utmost desolation for at least a single actor to speak, and not just keep shuffling the hapless Alia Bhatt from one vehicle to another. Ironically though, as I realized later, it was the same abject silence that drove the movie’s narrative, and that too in a bewitching manner. There are hardly any melodramatic dialogues to support the script( which is abundantly missing too), and above all, no permeating background score to move you. Exactly where silence bred feelings, baffled and bittersweet, wonders happened. Or something happened. Words probably can’t articulate that. That- whatever it is now.

If there is anything that spoke more than the pervasive silence did, it has to be the fragility with which the issue of women’s safety was dealt with. A microbic issue though, in a movie that spelled Stockholm Syndrome at its core, managed to intrusively gyrate every iota the viewer’s being. You can’t help but feel stupefied at the way Alia Bhatt unfolds the shambles of her devastated childhood. It is those moments that you feel just alive, but not alive enough.

Highway is miles away from breaching the Superhit label. It doesn’t reek of nautanki, neither does it entertain. But it leaves your famished brain to seek unknown answers to practically non-existing questions and situations. In one scene, Alia Bhatt non says, ‘ Bas thoda aur chahie. Thoda aur time jab main jo chaun kar sakun aur sambhalne wale tum ho.’

Innocuously blatant though, I would be lying if I say that Highway did not devastate a little. It wraps you in its overwhelming mantle. Sans noise and drama.

As I read on a blog, ‘It is not a movie of the mind. It is an experience of the heart.’ I haven’t yet been able to find an experience that could overtake this experience.


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