Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

Highway: Alia Bhatt, the student has grown up in her second film

Alia Bhatt in a still from Highway. Alia Bhatt in a still from Highway.
Written by Harneet Singh | Posted: February 21, 2014 12:14 am | Updated: February 21, 2014 12:21 pm

Just two months into the New Year and already a cinema trend is emerging. Look closely and you’ll find Bollywood in a massive lovefest with its leading ladies. Be it the beautifully subtle Dedh Ishqiya between Huma Qureshi and Madhuri Dixit in Abhishek Chaubey’s film or Parineeti Chopra’s turn as the weird genius with emotional problems in Hasee Toh Phasee, this is turning out to be the year of ‘the girl’, cinematically.

Just like this week’s release — the Imtiaz Ali directed Highway — which is a journey into a vulnerable girl’s mind and heart.

Imtiaz pitches his film as a character driven road movie where two co-passengers discover themselves and the meaning of their life’s journey. Randeep Hooda with his vacant- death like eyes and long gazes delivers a commendable performance but as the troubled and vulnerable Veera, it’s Alia Bhatt who owns the soul of Highway. She is quite a revelation in the film and really surprised me. To be honest I wasn’t bowled over by her in her debut film, Student of the Year. I thought she fit well in the ‘Pooh zone’, looked quite fetching in the Radha on the dance floor track but that’s about it. But in Highway, in a few moments, she really made me sit up and take notice. Her unaffected reactions — though a bit weird in the beginning — really grow on you — so much so that I can still hear Veera talking in my head. Just watch the five-minute-long climax scene where Alia really knocks it out of the park to know what I mean.

Indeed, Alia, the student has grown up in her second film, no doubt under the tutelage of her director. By the way, Imtiaz can also heave a sigh of relief. All the flak he received for casting Nargis Fakhri in Rockstar can finally be put to rest because with Alia his casting touch is superbly back in form.
It’s all about the right casting. Some decisions can seem awry on paper but a good director can make you believe in impossibilities also. Like I could have never imagined Juhi Chawla — who we’ve all loved as the Chirpy Chawla — as the evil one. But that’s what she’s doing in Gulaab Gang where she vows to make life hell for her one time competitor Madhuri Dixit and from the promos, it seems Juhi is having a lot of fun. Then there is Kangna Ranaut’s Queen where she plays Rajouri Garden di kudi who goes all-alone on her honeymoon to Paris. Kangna is such a fine dramatic actor and thankfully Bollywood seems to be giving her a chance. It’s so refreshing to see her breaking away from the mentally hinged/suicidal/ junkie roles that she was saddled with in the beginning of her career.

Here’s to Girl Power.

harneet.singh@expressindia.com

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