Banner: Surinder Films
Direction : Sudipto Chattopadhyay
Music: Anupam Roy
Cast: Koel Mullick, Parambrato Chatterjee, Dipankar Dey, Sabitri Chatterjee, Shilajit and Rita Chakraborty
By Shoma A. Chatterji
Highway is inspired by a telefilm shown on a Bengali satellite channel some years ago but this is not mentioned in the credits. The cast is different and with twists, turns and characters added to fit into the footage of a feature film, Highway could have stood on its own if the treatment, the screenplay and approach were right. They are not. It is the story of an upmarket, sophisticated young man and woman who meet on a holiday in Darjeeling, fall in love and go back to Kolkata to get married. But four years on, life for the married couple turns into a drag, having reached a status where there is no excitement.
Ashwin Kapoor (Parambrato Chatterjee) makes a plan for their fourth wedding anniversary as they are going to Darjeeling. He tells Sohini, his wife played by Koel Mullick that they will play a game where they will pretend not to be a wedded couple, check into different rooms and meet like strangers. Sohini is not amused but is emotionally blackmailed to give in. The game begins while sub-plots step in with different relationship stories where each one has come to relive old memories. An old couple (Dipankar Dey and Sabitri Chatterjee) have come to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The wife has lost her power of speech after a paralytic attack but the pair is so sweet, syrupy and dripping melodrama that one is scared of suffering from diabetes. While Shilajit has come to Darjeeling to commemorate the first death anniversary of his beloved wife, Rita Dutta Chakraborty, threatening to burst into tears any moment with a morose expression and depressing look, is there as it happens to be the death/ birth (the script says two different things at different times) of her small son who died in an accident. The young bohemian Gaurav Chakraborty, with a guitar strung across a shoulder, printed shirt and headband, walks into the happenings and no one knows why.
The game spins helplessly out of control when Win (abbreviation of Ashwin) throws a wad of currency notes at his wife as she comes looking for her lost purse. He throws her out of the room calling her a prostitute and she breaks down completely. He had he purse but did not know it. Is it too late to call the game off?
Highway is like a giant jigsaw puzzle unspooling in celluloid which, half-way through, you are not even interested in solving any more. The acting by the main cast, the music and the songs, though sometimes uncalled for, are good. But they do not add up to something cohesive, meaningful and entertaining. Shilajit, a noted singer and musician, belts out a song but for the dialogues, his voice has been dubbed by film-maker Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and no one has a clue why.
Highway is a classic example of the sum of something being smaller than its parts! You can give it a miss.