Though I wanted to write this article the day I watched ‘Highway’ but I believe it is never too late to appreciate good cinema. I am an Imtiaz Ali fan but believe you me, this article is not a PR activity. I am not promoting the movie by any chance. The reason for writing this article is only one and that is expounding the thought which ‘Highway’ delivers. The thought that even a lot of ‘Hot’ cinema lovers failed to take away with them when they left cinema hall. I am a no film critic nor am I better than you when it comes to the collection of movies in Hard disk.
It actually does not matter who I am but what matters is that you listen to what I want to speak.
A good chunk of cinema lovers found ‘Highway’ too slow and boring. This amazed me. How could anyone fail to enjoy this movie. But on second thought, I felt that this movie is not meant to be enjoyed at all. There was nothing new. The climax was predictable. Yes, It is not supposed to be enjoyed. The reason is that the movie is not like other dramatized tale where sex, violence, love hatred is displayed and you are soothed by its effect. ‘Highway’ rather is a slap on our faces. A real, hard, tight slap.
I had expected Imtiaz Ali to be good this time around too. He has been giving the cinema lovers some great love stories. ‘Highway’ again is a love story. But it is not bounded only by romance. It expands a little and touches the cruel reality that is prevailing in our society.
When Veera told her story to Mahabir that how her uncle often harassed her physically when she was young, I had goosebumps. Before this particular scene it was an usual Imtiaz Ali film. The cute girl, the serious guy. Juxtaposition in characters were still there as they are in all of Ali’s films. That particular scene set the tone for the movie. From there on , I knew why Ali has made this movie. I knew that this one was going to be his best work till date.
While watching ‘Highway’, I wandered off to various places. ‘Highway’ took me to my village where my aunts work day and night, in sweat and cold, in light and dark inside the house without wanting to have a break. They are not allowed to go out for as long as an year. Trapped in the house, they are made to see the walls and the roofs of the many rooms. That is there world. It also took me to the kitchen of my home in Delhi where our maid while washing cups and plates narrated my mother how her husband beat her last night. And it took me to the metro rail where a girl tried hard to hide her neck with her dupatta because ten men stared at her continously.
To understand this movie, you need to understand the condition of women in this country. It is far more worse and saddening than you can even imagine. Only then would you understand the frustration that comes out of Veera when she yells ‘Jaanawar Saaale’. The whole cinema hall came at pause at that moment and I believe made a lot of people ponder. This is what this movie is supposed to achieve. To make us ponder over this issue.
Mahabir tells you how his mother often got beaten by his father on a daily basis. How frustrated he felt watching her weep in pain. How women were sold in his village to other men by no one but their husbands.
Veera and Mahabir are different from each other by leaps and bounds. She is from a rich , upper class of the society. Mahabir is from lower class. A criminal who has taken four lives. It is difficult for anyone to even think that they could fall in love. But they do. And nothing looks unrealistic. The characters were so well presented that you know that they are coming closer to each other with each scene. Both of these characters were at distance from each other yet they were on parallel lines. Veera had seen physical abuse at a young age. Mahabir had seen the violence her mother beared each day at home. Their inner frustrations, anger and sadness were some common factors that made them come close to each other.
Nothing other than romance could have made it possible to bring this thought alive on screen. The thought that one needs to do something for the worsening condition of women in the country.
I kept on falling in love with movie at various stages but where I lost my heart to it was when Veera asks Mahabir about his mother and Mahabir stands there looking in her eyes as if thinking that how could she ask me this. All life as he grew nobody cared to ask if her mother was well or not, if she was even alive. But this girl here touched the softest part of his heart.
Veera hums to the song which Mahabir’s mother used to sing to make him sleep. At that moment, he falls in love with her. And it is on that moment, that two geniuses of the hindi film industry in Irshad Kamil and A.R. Rahman come and take you to a dream, a very beautiful dream that looks the same as of Mahabir Bhatti who also goes back in memory and remembers how his mother fed him, loved him, kissed him. ‘Sooha Saha’ will make you remember your own mother and you would feel why and how Mahabir Bhatti became what he became. You would realize that he has a softer side too.
The slow pace and predictble screenplay is not what ‘Highway’ is all about. Highway is the hidden reality of the society. A reality that dies each second in the kitchen of our homes, in bathrooms, in the producer’s room, in the trains, in buses and every possible place on this planet.
I am not asking you to go and watch ‘Highway’. I am not even asking you to agree with me. I am just asking you to hear me up. Thank you.