There are two types of approaches to a film like Imtiaz Aliâ€™s latest, â€śHighwayâ€ť. The first is for the masala crowd who expects the usual kind of crowd pleaser movie from the unpredictable director. The second is the audience that wants something different and expects Ali to deliver each time. Though â€śHighwayâ€ť is a good film, it seems that both sets of audiences will be a bit disappointed with this film that strives to be a bit more avante-garde than the usual Bollywood formula movie.
First, letâ€™s be clear right off the bat. This is not a typical romance film. Instead we get a road trip movie that forces two people from different walks of life together, all while showing off the beautiful countryside/culture of India. I would say that the Indian landscape/culture is the third major character as it truly takes your breath away. The cinematography by Anil Mehta is beautiful to behold, and the sign of a true artist. The direction by Imtiaz Ali is solid throughout, but the screenplay by the director is uneven. The only really convincing character in the film is given by Alia Bhattâ€™s amazing performance as Veera, the spoiled brat who is kidnapped by Randeep Hoodaâ€™s Mahabir. Of course, what is a kidnapped girl to do, but fall in love with her kidnapper? Right. Therein lays the crux of the problem with "Highwayâ€™s" story. In a rush to get the duo to fall in love, the romance just doesnâ€™t progress smoothly from fear and hate to love.
A.R. Rahmanâ€™s music which is in itself a major problem for the movie as it actually fails to elevate the film to a higher level (as Rahmanâ€™s music for â€śRockstarâ€ť did). I know that I will be burned alive at the stake for saying so, but Rahmanâ€™s music for â€śHighwayâ€ť is just not that magical or memorable. Sure, â€śPatakha Guddiâ€ť is a nice song to listen to (with beautiful lyrics by Irshad Kamil), but none of the tracks really make me feel like rushing to hit the repeat button. To add insult to injury, Rahmanâ€™s music borders on the banal, especially with forgettable tracks like â€śWanna Mash Upâ€ť. No, Mr. Maestro, I do not â€śwanna mash upâ€ť. I truly hope that Mr. Rahman finds his musical mojo again, because I really love his past work, but lately his soundtracks just havenâ€™t had that magical flare he is known for.
I realize that unfair comparisons to â€śRockstarâ€ť will be made, but really â€śHighwayâ€ť is a totally different creature feature. I applaud Imtiaz Ali, for continuing to push the boundaries of the niche he produces films within (that of romanceâ€¦romanceâ€¦.romanceâ€¦.). I just wish â€śHighwayâ€ť was as gripping and memorable as his previous releases. Oh, itâ€™s worth a watch, but then you will hit the reality highway and forget all about the fictional one. Watch it with an open mind and you wonâ€™t be disappointedâ€¦..for Alia Bhatt delivers an amazingly nuanced performance, and steals the film from all the rest. Plus, the Indian landscape/culture itself is beautiful to behold. Itâ€™s my way or the â€śHighwayâ€ť as a fanâ€¦..unfortunately with this film, it canâ€™t be both.