Alia Bhatt was amazing in Highway (2014). A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I have to confess after I saw her acting in Student of the year and how snobbish she was during the interview, I hated her. I hated everything about her. Highway changed my perception towards her and you could say, I am pretty much looking forward to see her other films. Unlike Parineeti, Alia was born into the filmy background. Having a father as a famous director and uncle as famed actor, she was pretty much exposed to it in the very young age. Well, when Karan Johar launched Alia Bhatt’s career, you could presume it was all because of her father’s connection and contact. I didn’t want to be bias but man, if you watched student of the year, you would say ‘Is that really acting?’ I know Alia Bhatt will go far at that time but not because she was good in acting but come on, who doesn’t if you are the daughter of Mahesh Bhatt. Highway pretty much altered the notion I’ve had about Alia. She proved me wrong. I am not going to be her biggest fan but she will definitely be in my radar. Imtiaz Ali did bring out the best of her. She delivered her emotion very well as a girl with a dark childhood and has no say in her future.
Stockholm syndrome often occurred to a kidnapping victim whereby they will feel empathy towards their kidnapper or some of the worst case reported, they even fell in love with the kidnapper. Highway tried to show that the empathy feeling grows little by little and always depending on how long the victim will be spending time with the kidnapper. Alia’s portrayal as Veera Tripathi is one of her top notch acting by far. I already watch 2 states but Alia did not shine in that film. Arjun Kapoor did. Anyway, Ruby will review 2 states later so I am not going to write anything about it. The film begins with Veera and her family prepared for her wedding. The preparation and process is being recorded in the shopping mall and the house. Veera receives so many attentions to the point she finds it really suffocated. She then escaped from her house during night and met her fiancé for an hour. Her fiancé does not want to participate in Veera’s demand to drive in the middle of night but he conceded due to Veera’s Stubbornness. Later they stopped at closed petrol station and Veera get down from the car to get a fresh air.
Her fiancé, Vinay asked Veera to get in the car as soon as possible because anything can happen to her and they are not in the familiar area. That’s when Veera saw a group of criminal chasing and shooting each other at the very short range. Veera panicked and freeze herself at the moment. That’s when Randeep Hooda who portrayed Mahabir, one of the criminal gang members dragged Veera and kidnapped her on the spot. Vinay stayed in the car and he was afraid to confront with the kidnappers. You know what did Vinay said to Veera when Veera called out his name asking to be saved? Vinay said ‘I did say it, Veera but you didn’t listen to me’. Well, a real classy comes in from fiancé who cowardly sitting in the car. Veera’s hand and mouth was tied and she was put in the lorry and drove off to the unrecognizable area in the country side.
Veera’s Kidnapping has been a matter of disagreement among Mahabir’s gang member. Knowing that she was a big business tycoon’s daughter will put them in jeopardy. Almost half of them agreed that she should be returned back to her father but Mahabir disagree. He left early in the morning with a few members in the gang who wanted to follow him. He treated Veera as humanely possible (though he still slapped her a few times) but considering she’s not getting rape or sexual assault, Veera is still considered lucky to me. They arrived at an old place of salt factory and decided to stay for a few nights there. In the middle of the night, Veera seek an opportunity to run but get caught by Mahabir. Mahabir was furious and he pushed Veera to run and try to save herself. Veera run as fast as she could only to find that there is no way out and she returned back to Mahabir with tears in her eyes. One of the Mahabir’s gang members try to molest Veera but get caught by Mahabir right away. Mahabir chased him away and they decided to continue traveling.
Along the journey, Veera develops feeling towards Mahabir and vice versa. Veera felt a freedom for the first time and with Mahabir by her side, she does not have to think any consequences for her action. She does not have to behave and she can pretty much do anything. At some point, when the truck crossed the border and the police forcefully wanted to check the truck, Veera hides from them. Mahabir and her friend confused with Veera’s action but Veera said she also confused with her action. Later, when their relationship begins to bloom and Mahabir aware that it could not proceed further considering he is a low life criminal and Veera is a daughter of rich and upper class family, he decided to send her off. He sent her to police station and tries to escape from her by disappearing at the bus station. Veera was enraged and try to search him at the station. Mahabir was happy that Veera didn’t return to her family and decided to stay with him a bit longer. They ran away together and stayed at the hilltop house for a few days. They relish the moments knowing that police will find them soon but before that happen, they find shelter and refuge in each other. Later, Mahabir was shot dead by the police and Alia tried to stop them but it was too late. He died on the spot and Alia was brought back to her family.
[SPOILER] There are 2 scenes that make me sobbing like a mad girl. There is one scene when Veera told Mahabir about her dark past. She has kept it for so long and she felt that telling Mahabir would relieve her burden for a second. She was molested (and possibly, raped) by her uncle repeatedly in the toilet. Her uncle would bring a chocolate to lure her into toilet and closed her mouth and did his dirty crime on her. Veera tried to scream and cry but her mouth is closed by her uncle’s hand. She told her mother about the event but her mother asked Veera to not tell anybody about this. The molestation and possible raping has stopped but her uncle still visits her and the family (even act like nothing happened around her). Veera cried while told Mahabir this story and Mahabir felt sympathy towards Veera. The second scene that makes me cried like a mad girl is when Veera returned to her family after Mahabir’s death and irritated that her family tried to continue the wedding and managed everything for her without asking her first. She exploded and while crying, she told what happened in her childhood and what her abusive uncle had done to her. Everybody gasps and shocked about what they hear but you will be surprised of what her father said in that matter. “Veera, we are a sensible person, we can talk about this”. UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE. Your daughter just told you she was sexually abused during her childhood and you told her to be sensible. The trauma that she endures for a past few years, the pain she felt and has no one to talk to and here you are, talking about sensibility. That was a very heartbreaking scene for me. Veera then left the house and tried to get away from her family. She returned to the mountain and lived there and cherished every memory she had with Mahabir there.
Is this a love story? I don’t know. Is this a story of a bizarre relationship built by 2 fucked up people from a very dark past? Yes, it did capture the essence of the story. Overall, Randeep Hooda as Mahabir also deserved praise as he dealt an unresolved abandonment issue with his mother. Yes, He is a criminal but isn’t that some of the criminal are triggered by the element that made them what they do. That’s the story Imtiaz Ali tried to tell. Mahabir maybe a criminal but deep down, he still a human being like us, fragile and vulnerable when being confronted by the past and hidden memories of ours.