Let me start by declaring that I am now officially a fan of Imtiaz Ali and Aliaa Bhatt.
Having not watched Student of the Year, I had little idea about Aliaa Bhatt’s thespian skills. Don’t know how she performed in SOTY but she stole the show in Highway, with an equally impactful performance from Randeep Hooda. The duo in fact carry the movie on their shoulders with subtle, real and unexaggerated acting, may be with some help from Imtiaz Ali.
Be it the scene where Aliaa opens up to Randeep or the one where she confronts a relative to set things straight, Aliaa proves that she is currently the best in business when it comes to acting, in Bollywood (though it’s tough to imagine her as a Tamil in the movie version of Two States, coming soon).
If Rockstar made me a fan of Imtiaz Ali, Highway has strengthened that bond further. Among Directors like Rohit Shetty, Ali doesn’t hesitate to take the unconventional route to produce masterpieces. Musically, Rockstar may be the album of the decade, but Rahman and Imtiaz have given themselves a tough competition with Highway.
In the past, silence has been used to great effect in re-recording by Ilayaraja. Rahman takes that route in Highway and succeeds. There is hardly any background score apart from the album track, which too is used minimally. Visuals (especially in Himachal) are stunning, making you want to visit places like Shimla and Poh.
There is a high chance Highway may bomb at the box office, much like Kamal Haasan’s critically acclaimed Anbe Sivam, and the likes. Highway is not a movie you can go with your family to have a good laugh. It is nowhere close to your usual commercial cinema. You don’t see the hero entering the scene with the sound of trumpets deafening your ears. In fact, there is no hero. There is no story also, to think of it. Imtiaz Ali is the hero. Screenplay is the hero.
Highway is unconventional. It’s offbeat. And it’s awesome!