Watch With Me -- #4 : Highway The Film

2/24/2014 06:26:00 AM

Life is all about contradictions, discovering, trying the unfamiliar, experimenting, about resonance, and you learn it all on the road. 


If you've been following this blog, or me, you know the obvious reasons I'was awaiting the release of Highway, a hindi movie produced and directed by Imtiaz Ali. A single-line story that film supposedly has, never bothered me, because the beauty of a road-trip is, when you're on the road, you don't need a story. the story develops and unfolds itself, and not just one but many stories, and who would know this better than a traveler her/him-self? Perhaps that is why, It touched me on so many levels, and the reason, I am writing about it here. This exactly is, not a review, rather a trip I took and of that, I am sharing an experience with everyone as I always do.

I watched it on friday, and twice subsequently and tweeted my first impressions on the go, that very much gave away the initial feeling that was rough and animatic. but as I delved deep inside, I could get rid of the usual bollywood cliche' and easily understood, where it was coming from. Now, since I am very good in scattering raw emotions everywhere, here, what I am offering are the contradictions and in-sections so that I don't miss the points.

6 States and The Almighty Himalayas, The Stunning Visuals : Its All Real

My Love for India knows no boundaries, in fact it is my affection to my mother-land that very much defines love for me, because I love and hate it equally, which is perhaps the extremity of love, I was told once. You and I have both seen and explored this country - If you've not yet, you must right now - and nothing amuses us than more than seeing the Real, Unfeigned India.

Highway is the thoroughfare, that gives you this tangible feeling of being on the road yourself when you're watching it, and that is because their - the fim making crew - 's journey did progress in the same manner as they made it. Yesterday I ended up watching Highway Diaries - the little snippets of making of the highway, from each major location where it was shot, and that verified the fact, how the little things I loved about the films were as spontaneous for the makers and crew as they were for me, while I was just seeing the edited version.

 On the road to Discovering the self and the world - I have asked this question many times myself, that it makes me feel bit eerie when I hear her say this out loud.

-highway diaries-

We can all watch the exotic locals of India, in documentaries, and so we have, and explored as well, and thats why as travelers we know, what a personal story brings in to such journeys, our travelogues are all about it, Ain't they? One really should praise the art of film-making because, I know how small a part, penning down an experience is when compared to presenting it as a motion-picture and trying to make sense of it, connect to it.

Undoubtedly, that is why, the night scene shot at Rann of Katch, the vast emptiness of salt-flat landscape, a milky-way and star studded sky, that looked exactly like what I remember witnessing at the shores of Pangong ( ladakh ), immediately brought me to tears. (-  However at second look I did feel it was not real. Yeah? )

The purity of nature does get to youand you never know when the soul stirring sound of music becomes a devotional pirouette dance. "Tu Kuja Man Kuja" to me, did exactly that.

I am nobody's fan, but when I love something to the core, I wouldn't shy away from showering praises. Unlike us, mortals, Musicians are true artists, and I admire a quality they have, that is to evoke a certain emotion that perhaps even we don't know if we could ever feel it. Best part about being born a human is experiencing the sea of emotions. This collection posses that quality, and I can't thanks A R Rahman enough for this, specially for the above number and the sufi-punjabi song. I have to say, I was able to connect to the songs even more after watching the movie, I was in a certain space, in a thought-process that prolonged the rhythms and brought me a certain mystical experience.

On the Road to Transformation 

A lot has been said about the movie in past 3 days, and as much as I unlike a good chuck of it, I can totally understand it. A film, and a bollywood at that, is always a romance. Well, nothing wrong in being romantic, I am an hopeless one myself, but what hurts me the most here is, People thinking it has to be romance between two people, and according to me it isn't. It is about a character that is romancing the road, the journey, the experience. I can not express how mercilessly The headline in The New York Times - 'Celebrating Bondage Over Bonds of Marriage' -  killed me. Well at least Variety has done a decent review. Anyone else, I don't think they really got it.

A person who has not been on the road, can not understand what it is meant to be on the road. Only a nomad can understand what it is like to be one. Only on the road, it doesn't matter, where you've come from and where you're going to. The strangers on the road are those's presence you solicit. You can open up to them, share your deepest secrets with, and those are the ones you fall in love with, eventually.

This reminds me of a song, Strangers, written by Dave Davies...

Where are you going I don't mind
I've killed my world and I've killed my time
So where do I go what do I see
I see many people coming after me
So where are you going to I don't mind
 If I live too long I'm afraid I'll die
So I will follow you wherever you go
If your offered hand is still open to me
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one.

That is what my understanding says, of the two lead characters. What brings one on the road remains unimportant, we all deal with the cliches of our society, where we live in, and it affects us deep with in. It is what shapes us in to what we ultimately become, and nothing can break us free from it but a drastic change, that a nomad life is, a temporary one or forever, matters the least. we find our reasons to live on the road. we find our lives, our freedom.

A lot of people have missed the contradiction, that the other lead character is, though. I personally have felt both emotions, Not in extreme but yes I have. He's been on the road forever, and how it is so hard for him, to have a proper meal and sleep with in four walls called home, gives us the perspective of those who are slow travelers like me, and why I always want to come back home and not always want to be on the road, but even for me...

The worst part of any journey is the end of it.

Coming over to the technicalities of the film, I did not like the first 10 minutes those were wasted showing the naturescapes and the dialogues in the car - loud those were. The glimpses took away the surprise but thats a first. I wish those extra minutes could have added one more stop / story / local flavor on and from the highway just like rajasthani manganiyar and it could've enriched my experience another fold. BTW that was unplanned from what I learned and so were the many other short instances and even the dialogues which of course were what made the movie more real to me, as I mentioned above.

The other thing was language. Hindi movies or for that matter many Hollywood productions as well, make rural experience feel like a resort experience in the rural area. perhaps the lack of the skills, or knowledge is what does it, they are ignorant too. e.g. many hindi movies, have their village characters, all speaking bhojpuri, no matter if they came from central UP, west, Hariyana, or Bihar. the truth is that the dialect changes every 50KMs. Highway, at least have done good job, and I have to appreciate the team for it. I mean I love hearing the raw faulty hindi, makes me feel very close to home. 

I am wondering what is left unsaid now? I think I enjoyed the moments so familiar to me, almost as I felt when I first touched the foothills of Himalaya, saw clouds opening up the grand view of mighty Mt, Trishul in my first trek to Roopkund. It reminded me of people I met in my various journeys, and it also took me to my recent divine like experience with Northern Lights, in alaska, as I lay on the road, kept looking up at the sky, watch them dance. In one line, the movie reminded me why I love travel so much. ( oh and of course, No.2 that how on earth I missed sitting on the roof of the bus during my trip to Ladakh and that is when I did all my one month of travel in local buses there. :-( and No. 3 is that I want to travel the world and retire in the Himalayas. )

I did mention in one of my tweets, that this movie, if not all, would definitely appeal to wandering minds and I am sticking to it, because reviews and critics have disappointed me, yes. Almost makes me feel they dint get it at all. But I am sure, the people like me, such as you all, will find out that it doesn't really need an evolved audience. Its not path-breaking, has flaws, but its a Gut-check. It also has its unique funny moments ( You'd get to know you can do Bhangra on absolutely any music ;) ha ha. ) so Its not all sad, or violent etc, but why am I saying that? Travel is never sad.

If you've never, it might make you step out of your comfort zone and get on the highway, just to understand how it feels like. A simple journey, if not necessarily transform you, yet will make you more human.


The Image above 1- from Ladakh Expedition 2010 all links here and, print available here,
2- is from my trek to Roopkund Himalaya in 2009. Travelogues here
Linked here : You might find this conversation /interview with Imtiaz Ali, Alia bhat and Ranbir Kapoor interesting. the length is incomplete, but you'd find other parts, on youtube in similar videos sidebar when you watch this. Also I really wanted to hear Randeep Hooda talk and I found a good one here

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