I loved the Highway the film, despite it’s obvious disconnect with reality, despite its apparently pointless meanderings. Like Imtiaz Ali’s previous directorial venture Rockstar, the thing that struck me about Highway was the strong development of the protagonist’s character. I was involved right from the beginning with the story, gasping when Alia was kidnapped, trying to understand her state of mind when she babbled and laughed in unexpected places, sympathizing with her when she lashes out against exploitation and abuse. I think it is really hard to achieve the brilliant and unreal innocence of both characters, Jordan (played by Ranbir Kapoor) in Rockstar and Veera (played by Alia Bhatt) in Highway. And it’s not a bad thing to sometimes enjoy this sort of innocence for what it is.
Alia has been directed brilliantly in Highway and that’s what really worked for me. I loved the subtle point the film made, about the cage of affluence, the hypocrisy of elite society that still practices conservative values while exhibiting a modern facade. Even without the dramatic appeal of a situation as extreme as child abuse, I would willingly concede this point.
Alia’s attraction to her captor is bizarre, but the desperate rawness of Randeep Hooda was appealing nevertheless. The likelihood of finding the sensitive side of a thug in real life is remote, I agree, but that possibility is part of the romantic charm of Highway. It’s not about reality, its about storytelling. And Imtiaz does that really well!