Monsoon Wedding (2001) is probably the first Indian film that I can recall which dealt with child abuse in a Hindu joint family. Director Mira Nair reveals it towards the end and just when you feel it was nothing more than a screenplay gimmick, she throws in couple of memorable scenes featuring the veteran, Naseeruddin Shah. In the end, one gets a feeling that the issue has been dealt sensitively yet sternly atleast in those few moments on screen.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about ‘Highway’.
Director Imtiaz Ali uses this issue as a mere justification for the heroine’s ‘ghutan’ (suffocation) and her fascination to hit the road (as revealed in the movie). Towards the end of the movie, when he is presented with a similar opportunity, like in Monsoon Wedding, he squanders it away by limiting it to the heroine’s outburst, while the parents are mute spectators.
Having said that the first half of the film is decently written and most of the scenes keep you interested with a couple of quirky characters thrown in. It is the second half that tests your patience, with visuals dominating the proceedings and the story halting at predicted stops.
Alia Bhatt is outstanding. Period. But the film is just too big for her shoulders.