Highway review: Alia Bhatt has walked past her babydoll cosmetic debut in ‘Student Of The Year’

Alia Bhatt has walked past her babydoll cosmetic debut in 'Student Of The Year' for a demanding role.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: February 22, 2014 2:57 pm
Moview Review Highway: An actor who insists on being taken seriously needs to be able to fit the role completely, and Alia Bhatt falters in many places. Movie Review Highway: An actor who insists on being taken seriously needs to be able to fit the role completely, and Alia Bhatt falters in many places.

Movie Review: Highway

Star Cast: Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda

Director: Imtiaz Ali

A couple of damaged strangers seeking redemption via a road journey is the premise of Imtiaz Ali’s latest ‘Highway’. The director’s attempt to move away from his trademark candyfloss-ness has mixed results: this is perhaps the most picturesque road movie I have seen coming out of Bollywood, but the story struggles with its twin threads and uneven tone. ‘Highway’ is a patchy ride, with the occasional high spot.

Imtiaz Ali’s romancing the road is of a piece with his favourite plot device. This director is happiest and most-happy making when his characters are on the move, the breeze rustling their hair. In his latest, he tells the story of ‘jab’ Veera and Mahavir met, but there is a gap between what he wants his characters to be and the actors who play them. It becomes jab they met, not jab we met.

Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt) is a rich, cossetted bride-to-be. And Mahabir Bhatti (Randeep Hooda) is a criminalised, uncouth truck driver. This unlikely couple is thrown together, first reluctantly then companionably, for days at a stretch, as they rattle down the highway. They progress from fear to dislike to like to a kind of love, but it’s more a meander, and believability is a casualty.

Alia Bhatt has walked past her babydoll cosmetic debut in ‘Student Of The Year’ for a demanding role. Her Veera is effortlessly fresh-faced, absurdly young, scrubbed and vulnerable. But the sense of terror and dread that would make the character credible is never fully present.

She displays potential—especially in a harrowing scene in which she tells her companion of a secret that devastated her childhood — but she can’t really convince us that the thread of snot coursing through her tears is not artful. And in other places, she evokes incredulity: a high society Delhi girl in clothes that do not wear any ‘kaajal’ that differs in smudge-size as she rolls about in sand and mud? A body language coach (mentioned in the credits) is not enough: an actor who insists on being taken seriously needs to be able to fit the role completely, and Alia Bhatt falters in many places.

Randeep Hooda’s rough, abusive trucker looks the part, but also falls short. He mumbles and swallows his words, and his Jat dialect seems forced. This is an actor I enjoy watching, and here too he has moments when he is squaring up with this exotic creature, the likes of which he has never encountered before, which feel real. And then the script, which swallows up a couple of catchy A R Rahman ditties, dumps on him an angst in weary flashbacks. His checking out is telegraphed much before it happens: you know it’s coming from a mile off.

I wanted more because it comes from a director who knows, or at least has known how to transfuse exuberance in love, and joy in sheer movement. ‘Highway’ is pretty but stagey.

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First Published on: February 21, 2014 11:02 am
  1. @
    @d!t
    Feb 22, 2014 at 8:26 am
    Movie is very realistic , dare attempt.
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      aneeta
      Mar 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm
      thats rather harsh and not true
      Reply
      1. S
        SOClAL TOTA
        Feb 21, 2014 at 8:21 am
        It is not necessary to see the movie from one perspective. Social media audience is liking it and thy have given it a rating bet 3.2-3.7. chk it here blog[dot]socialtota[dot]com
        Reply
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          Dibakar Jana
          Feb 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm
          i just saw this movie today... All I can say I can watch this movie 2-3 more times. Alia steals the show... didn't expected such performance from the SOTY actor. WOW...
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            Never Again
            Feb 27, 2014 at 9:13 am
            It is a good movie. Sure Alia falters a little in some scenes but otherwise captures the unreal aspect of her situation really well. The movie is worth watching and is a relief after SOTY, Chennai Express, etc. eep Hooda does well. The landscape and music are two highlights of the movie. The story does not lack coherence although there is probably room for improvement. But then, it is a Bollywood movie and the storyline has been butchered in movies like Ravan.
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              Ahsan
              Feb 21, 2014 at 10:25 am
              "But the sense of terror and dread that would make the character credible is never fully present."- I really disagree with these statement of yours as the 'slow pace' and many of the scenes looked to be shot only for the Intensity of the character! and What all you have described as a Patchy ride is actually the "Rawness" of the movie which is its very unique and honest characteristic. Even Imtiaz Ali has explained about this rawness in multiple Interviews! This review could have been much better!!!
              Reply
              1. T
                Tony Kurishingal
                Feb 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm
                Dumbest comment of year. Great observation.. !!!
                Reply
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                  Anshula
                  Feb 23, 2014 at 4:33 am
                  Alia bhatt cannot act. Is what is proved from this movie. The second time.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Sharoni Sen
                    Feb 24, 2014 at 8:27 am
                    I agree with most of this review. The abductee falling in love with her kidnapper isn't a new device in film; what is missing here is natural, believable progression in Alia's character from a rape-terrorised girl (with an abusive childhood history to boot) in a horrific kidnap situation, to a trusting, chatty, demonstrative and unfettered individual who finds her captor 'cute' and trusts him to keep her safe from his criminal self and the rest of the world! Besides, If you ume that the film is about TWO tortured traumatised souls, Mahabir (eep)'s perspective and backstory come pretty late in the film. All in all, the inner logic (or lack of it) of the film is poorly expressed leaving me unconvinced, awkward and unable to identify with the characters during the very moments the director contrived to be moving - 'contrived' being the operative word.
                    Reply
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