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Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ is Much More Than Being Enchanted By The Stockholm Syndrome

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By Naman Singh:

“Jahaan se tum mujhe laaye ho..wahan vapas jaana nahi chahti. Jahaan bhi leja rahe ho..wahan pahuchna nahi chaahti…Par yeh raasta..yeh bahut achcha hai…”. A simple line. Yes, so simple that it can easily be ignored. Just like we overlook the scenes that sweep by us whenever we are rushing to our destination on a highway.

Highway movie

Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ may just appear to be one of those works which excite you with an unconventional theme and denouement but it hardly calls for any description, rather rejects the same facade. Description? Have you ever wondered how we always spend our time trying to create a cloud of proper ‘descriptions’ and ‘explanations’ just in order to form an impression? In other words, we love our society based on ‘images’. And being a “fortunate” part of such a world, a young damsel gets driven among the “uncultured” troop of kidnappers to threaten their souls with her father’s stature. But, hardly does the effervescent spirit know as to what it feels to be transported from one road to another. Gradually, this physical pain of being held captive gives the free soul a way of transcendence and brings out various shades of mankind with the help of a few locales and ordinary social beings as the bond that develops between the two is nowhere to be observed in the scope of our present society.

Interestingly, Highway is not merely a metaphorical representation of being enchanted by the Stockholm Syndrome but hits at much more of life. For we take pride in the fact that we understand the layers of life fully but at the same time, why do we also bear the tendency of turning a blind eye to the multitudes of the same temporality where everything has to change? The refuge in the very ‘raasta’ that Veera yearns is nothing but a way of coming to grips with the perpetual human desire for a sort of epiphany and hence, settling with it and deriving solace in the vicissitudes of that journey, thereby turning life into a long path of stones and plains than a destination. Therefore, the boundary of that obvious eternal peace mushrooms with the support of Mahabeer, and which keeps widening before it finally helps both of them to get purged of the suffocating baggage of deep-seeped emotions which has so far been missing an outlet of release.

Moreover, Veera becomes immensely instrumental in ventilating a repressed self who is tagged as a criminal without even taking his harsh circumstances into consideration. Therefore, the much-anticipated killing of the cruel kidnapper cum divine liberator does not make Veera regret her inability to act for long as she rejuvenates as a true human being who just requires a bit of freedom to express and that which can never be provided by any book of law or constitution. So, as mentioned above, Highway is as simple as complex to be wanting words for light. As this experience can only be tasted subjectively with a topsy-turvy manner of cinematography. To throw light on the overall content of the film, the lead cast captivates one and takes them away from the illusion of all kinds of claustrophobic protections by growing a wish for the same. Also importantly, Imtiaz Ali proves his mettle yet again by giving vent to an effort of beautifying lives of many with a subtle celebration of their ‘insensible’ silences, behavioural complexities and imperfections. The tune generated throughout the series of moments of mild introspection is immensely buttressed by the Rahman brand of music, positioning Highway as once in a blue moon phenomenon that fosters a question, “Kahaan Hoon Main”.

You must be to comment.
  1. Nimmy Kuttappan

    very beautifully written.. your words strikes the right chord at the right place 🙂

  2. Arvind Nedumaran

    As always, Imtiaz Ali’s movies are never really just what they seem to be on a first look!

  3. Abhishek

    Bro, I dunno what you saw in this film. It is a torture if you are accustomed to good cinema.
    No Stockholm Syndrome here bro.

  4. Shruthi Suresh

    Beautiful summary of a film that really makes an effort to go above and beyond the mundane. A tribute toa film that has much more than Stockholm syndrome as its centrepiece…..perhaps even a commentary on the suffering of Indian children. Both adult Mahabeer and Veera are a direct result of the trauma they suffered during their childhood from which neither affluent/poverty-struck parents nor our government is able to do a single to protect. What is our future if this is what indian children have to undergo in the name of childhood.?

  5. Anitha Choudhary

    A really amazing movie with a lot of deep rooted thoughts that can actually provoke our inner conscience!!!

  6. Anitha Choudhary

    A really amazing movie with a lot of deep rooted thoughts that can actually provoke our inner conscience!!

  7. Rajshree

    This is exactly what I thought after seeing the movie, and it broke my heart when the director put it down simply as a film on Stockholm Syndrome.

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