Right before her wedding, a young woman Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhat) finds herself abducted and held for ransom. As the initial days pass, she begins to develop a strange bond with her kidnapper, Mahabir Bhati (Randeep Hooda).
What I liked:
- The Highway. The roads. The locales where the movie is shot are simply mind blowing. As the truck moves through the winding ghats of the Himayalas you are in the front seat wandering about feeling at peace. There is so much tranquility in some scenes, the one where Veera is running away from her kidnappers or where she & Mahabir spend their last night. Even the night time Delhi when Veera is out for a drive with her fiance is so still & quiet. As the car moves through the empty streets you can actually feel the wind blowing through your hair. The photography not just takes you to all these places but it makes you experience all of them.
- I liked the way the movie was narrated onscreen. Initially Veera comes across as a spoilt brat who needs a lesson in reality ASAP. But as the movie progresses we realize that she isn’t delusional. Or maybe she is because she wants to be. Because she finds comfort in shutting out the outer world.
- It isn’t the usual Bollywood thing of dance, songs (though the few songs in it are amazing), marriage, love & cheap jokes. It takes a complicated issue like rape & child abuse & how it is usually handled in India & its subsequent effects.
- Veera finally broke free. She finally broke the shackles which bound her & left all her hypocritical relations behind. Neither Mommy’s love nor daddy dearest’s love can hold her back then. She is finally done giving a damn, not just about the society but also those who are her blood relations.
- The character of Mahabir is multi layered. He hates the rich because his life has been spoiled by a rich man. He hates the power they wield over the poor & hence thinks it appropriate that one of them (Veera) suffers because of a poor man. He has murdered, but he regrets doing it, not enough to turn himself in but enough to feel bad about it. He is a truck driver but that doesn’t automatically make him a rapist or an abuser or a drunk. He is brilliant as well, making the police run all over India in search of Veera. He isn’t an opportunist. He first sees a naive girl who is foolish enough to want to stay with her kidnapper. Then he learns that the girl is a victim of multiple rapes & abuse. Instead of adding to the numbers he chooses to be the exception & respects her in what little way he can.
- Mahabir’s death & Veera’s reaction to it had me in tears. It was as if she was losing a part of her, the part which she hadn’t known existed till Mahabir came along. Without turning it into a crappy love story, the director managed to convey the attachment the two felt for one another. Veera’s desperation as she cries out for Mahabir, wanting someone to understand what she is saying, wanting someone to at least listen to her, are some real heart touching moments.
What I did not like:
- Now people might think I am a real horrid person for saying this but how close (physically) will a rich class girl get to a truck driver? Yes, Mahabir isn’t a creep like his friend touching her all the time, but hugging him, sleeping next to him, etc were a little hard to believe for me.
- Alia & Randeep are perfect in their roles. But I think Randeep never got the appreciation he deserved for his work. He is brilliant as the truck driver who cannot even begin to understand the “thing” that he has kidnapped.
You need to have an open mind while watching this movie. It handles a subject which we as Indians are not very comfortable talking about & hence behave as if it never happens. Also, a little patience for the seemingly stupid Veera in the first half of the movie will help you to understand what Veera truly is as the second half starts.
A 4/5 from my side for this movie. Watch it on a large screen. A laptop screen just isn’t satisfying enough.