Highway, a review.

Alia and Randeep in Highway

Alia and Randeep in Highway

If I had listened to initial reviews I would have made a U-turn on Highway and x-ed out the best Indian film I have seen for a long time!  Anyone I talked to had apparently a problem with the anticipated May-December love between Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda. I am not so keen on those stark seasonal discrepancies either, but once you watch the movie you will understand that this isn’t your gardenvariety romance.

Soon-to-be-wed Veera (brilliantly acted by Alia Bhatt, who’s instantly moved to the top of my favorite new female actors list), born into wealth and status, is nursing deep wounds from a past she is trying to suppress. She pledges with her fiancee to elope and settle for a simple life style, where she imagines herself being a wife who lives very modestly amidst nature, cooking with devotion a simple meal for her husband.

Beware what you wish for! How so often in life, our dreams sometimes get fulfilled with an unexpected twist. Being, she gets the chance to live that way for a short period of time and under circumstances neither desired or imagined. She is being kidnapped right off the spot, being at the wrong time in the wrong place. A gas station in the suburbs of Delhi is just getting robbed, she becomes the hostage. This wasn’t planned, neither by her or by her kidnapper Mahabir (Randeep Hooda), who finds himself in the situation of needing to escape fast.. Randeep gives a powerful performance as the illiterate and simple bandit, victimized himself by an abusive father. Little we learn about his circumstances, but enough to understand his plight in a life of hardship and violence.

So, everybody who has seen the movie is trying to rationalize the strange bond of these two main characters, who are thrown at each other randomly, and call it Stockholm syndrome. Veera, the captive and the criminal Mahabir, who didn’t realize that he had abducted a high profile family girl and now runs for his life, with her in tow. Luckily for us, the journey takes us through the magnificent landscapes and villages of Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir. We travel with them on one of the colorful, poetically run-down  trucks you can ONLY find in India. I myself don’t want the journey to end, immersed in those awe inspiring landscapes, rugged snow-covered mountains.

After a first failed attempt to escape her kidnappers, Veera resigns herself. She realizes that her captors are at the end just some poor wretched souls. except for one, who leaves very fast after waiting for an opportune moment to rape Veera but gets caught by Mahadir in the nick of time.

She experiences a sense of safety in Mahadir’s presence. charming your captor is a common survival technique. Maybe that’s what she is trying to do in the beginning. She teases, and laughs, and bounces around, uninhibited. Mahadir is unable to read this complex human being. It’s beyond him that she ceases to be afraid. He is a one dimensional thinker. Everything is either black or white in his world, until Veera starts disassembling him, piece by piece. Layer by layer. As she starts revealing to him what man has done to her, and not just man, but family. Not just incest but cover-up, abandonment, Mahadir starts realizing that pain and suffering isn’t class-bound. It’s a difficult concept for him to understand maybe. For him life is a struggle between the rich and the poor. He resents wealth on existential grounds. Initially she is just a problem he needs to solve fast. As she is opening up to him he gradually becomes her protector.

She comes to realize that the dangers and demons lived in her midst, and those perceived outside her world, were actually kinder and protective of her than her own family ever was.

As for the so called romance in this movie, her kidnapper Mahadir could have been hundred years old and have a wooden leg! Mahadir was the first person Veera ever confided to (besides her mother, who in her learned helplessness was unable to perform her motherly duty in protecting her child, for whatever reasons). And that should be a movie in itself!  Mahadir never crosses the line of decency and it redeems him, not that it erases his own past, but he discovers his humanity through Veera.

This movie is all about healing, how to survive and move past violence and insults and biases. It touches you deep in your soul. The ending is the only appropriate ending one can think of. So the movie leaves you with a soft smile and tears in your eyes.

I cannot say enough about the heartfelt performances  of both Alia Bhatt, as well as Randeep Hooda. I always liked him a lot, but I never realized what kind of an acting caliber he possesses, after seeing him in more commercial films that made him only look cool and sexy in a rugged way.

Imitiaz Ali, what can I say, he has done it again! Rockstar, Jab We Met, Socha Na Tha, Ahista Ahista..These are some of my alltime favorite Indian movies. He is a genius! :-)

Last not least, a word about the supporting cast. Often in Indian films, supporting cast members are not given much attention and hate to say it, but often they tend to be really bad. There was a nice balance in this movie. No one ruined it. :-) Kudos to Durgesh Kumar, Pradeep Nagar, and Saharsh Kumar Shukla.

Music. Not too much, not too little. A.R. Rahman. How can you go wrong? I loved the soundtrack and will definitely buy it.

This movie is a rare gem. It is deep as it is beautiful. The images and emotions it evokes are haunting. It resonates just on every level. The characters linger with you for a long long time.

Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar wins big at the FICCI FRAMES excellence awards

link to Ficci Frames:   about.htm



I don’t understand a word, but I am posting the clip for those lucky enough to know Hindi.  I am listening cuz  there are bits of Hinglish that allow glimpses into the nature of the conversation.  and underneath a kind soul translated the essence:  Story is everything.  What the filmmaker makes of it determines success or failure of a film.

– which is only partly true, because if you think, for example, of Swades,  perhaps Srk’s best movie, the script is good, the music fantastic, the cinematography is wonderful. So why did it flop? I know tons of people who LOVED that movie…

But let’s come back to Rockstar, Ranbir Kapoor and Imtiaz Ali. It’s Ranbir’s most complex role up to date and he did a phenomenal job. P H E N O M E N A L.  I loved the story too. It sounds like such a cliche that great music or art for that matter should be the substrate extracted from sufferings, we don’t want to accept it but most often it has been proven true.

We have to have experienced the bottom, the abyss, to create something that touches the soul of others . We see it in artists that once the great success comes in the art suffers. Too good of a place is the kiss of death for the creative mind, who becomes too complacent, almost. too saturated.

I am going to be killed for it, but I am going to say it anyway. It’s not even a matter of compassion, love for others.  very often the great artists are intensely narcissistic and they can create greatness by just feeling sorry for themselves, but the suffering has to be there.  I found this to be true and so this movie Rockstar resonated with me

Ranbir’s performance was powerful, though a little uneven in places.. like in the beginning of the movie, where he appears a bit too dopey and naive… Nargis Fakhri was criticized mercilessly and sometimes I think unjustly. The role should have been given to somebody more experienced maybe, it was a gamble. I still liked her in this role.

Writer/Director Imtiaz Ali is so incredibly versatile, so gifted.  I am delighted for him receiving the award for Best Director!! Deserved!
These awards were wisely distributed. Rahman wrote beautiful songs for Rockstar.  Best film for Zindagi, my favorite movie last year. Not to mention Vidya Balan whose performances are just explosive. She starts looking like one of these mighty ancient Greek or Roman goddesses to me.

Mumbai: Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Rockstar’ emerged a big winner scooping four awards, including best actor for Ranbir Kapoor, at the 2012 FICCI FRAMES Excellence Awards.

The film, which chronicles the story of an aspiring singer, walked away with the trophy of best director for Imtiaz Ali, best music director for A.R. Rahman and best singer (male) for Mohit Chauhan. Vidya Balan received the best actor (female) award for ‘The Dirty Picture’.

The best film award went to ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. Directed by Zoya Akhtar, the movie featured Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol.

Meet the winners of the 57th Filmfare Awards

“The best debut male and female awards went to Vidyut Jamwal for ‘Force’ and Parineeti Chopra for ‘Ladies v/s Ricky Behl’, respectively, while Abhinay Deo was adjudged best debut director for ‘Delhi Belly’.

Usha Uthup and Rekha Bhardwaj jointly received the award for best singer (female) for the film ‘7 Khoon Maaf’.

Hosted by Mandira Bedi, the awards, presented by UTV Stars, featured performances by Usha Uthup and rocker Papon.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan was honoured with the award for maximum impact made by a personality.

The awards ceremony, held Friday night, was the concluding event of the three-day annual FICCI FRAMES conclave.

“When it comes to entertainment, India is reaching new heights with each passing year due to the efforts and passion of a set of people who are its driving force,” filmmaker Karan Johar, co-chairman, FICCI Entertainment Committee, said in a statement.

“With the FICCI Frames Excellence Awards, we hope to honour the best across the different media platforms. We hope the awards inspire all to excel,” he added.

The awards ceremony will be aired on UTV Stars at a later date.”




Socha Na Tha

Just the other day I was re-watching for the nth time Socha Na Tha (2005) where sweet Ayesha  proves that she can turn into a fiery feisty fighterIf you haven’t seen the movie and have never heard of Ayesha Takia,  this is the time!  She turned me instantaneously into a super-fan of hers. Of course it helps the movie that she has an amazing chemistry with another favorite actor of mine, Abhay Deol –my manpasand Deol of Bollywood’s Deol dynasty.



Not the most sophisticated teaser, and couldn’t find a  trailer,  but the movie rocks.  It’s a fresh take on an old theme:  Shaadi=Marriage and Sweet Love vs Arranged. A lot of the beauty of the Indian culture transpires in this  soft-hearted romcom, which makes you feel for the characters, caught between stones and hard rocks, where endearing  Indian core values are clashing with a more modern sense of empowerment of India’s gen Y.  We know how it will end but it comes with surprising twists and turns. Ayesha and Abhay play off each other with grace and lots of fire.

Well written and directed by Imtiaz Ali. Great fun to watch.