Sunday, March 30, 2014

Highway - Road to Liberation

“In the end, what we regret the most are the chances we never took.”

 
You walk into a dimly-lit movie hall expecting to be entertained, that’s it, nothing more than that, and then 2 hours and 13 minutes later, you walk out as a completely different and changed person.
Well, that’s what Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ did to me. It may not be a commercially successful film (yet) and might have got polarized reactions but it’s beautifully assembled, ambitious, holistic in its approach and most importantly touched me at a very personal level.
Judging a film or for that matter any art form is totally subjective, one can’t say, this movie or performance is better than that or this music is better than this and that. It’s a very personal choice; it might take you just a second to fall in love with a performance or couple of notes to fall for a musical piece. I remember in 2011, when ‘Rockstar’ had come out; it had got quite a lot of flak for its disjointed narratives, excessive flashbacks, many criticized its editing and some even when to the extent of saying “There were too many songs!” Now for a Rahman fan like me that definitely is something that would anger me to the point of no return but even through all that, I waved the “Rockstar was more soul, less logic” banner and stayed wholeheartedly with the movie. If you ask me, what made me connect with that film? I would have to say that every single flaw that got mentioned, each one of those “too many” songs, every bit of the lead character’s vulnerability and anger, their confusion regarding relationships and marriages, every single chaotic upheaval of the lead character somehow connected with me.

The same happened with me when I watched Imtiaz Ali’s latest ‘Highway’, its strong and involving, it reaches beyond Bollywood clich├ęs, transforming what could have been an ordinary road-trip movie into something with so much potential. Unlike the loud and splashy melodrama that comes out majority of the time, this one’s very thoughtful and subtle in its story and approach. It’s a tale of suffering, loss, pain and most importantly, it’s about self-discovery. It smashes all the commercial adornments of a typical Hindi film.

One main thought that lingered on as I walked out after watching the movie was “What is the true meaning of freedom and liberation?” Like in the case of Alia Bhatt’s character Veera in ‘Highway’, she found her true freedom on being a captive; her true liberation was [SPOILER] when her captor whom she falls in love with, dies in her arms [SPOILER]. To others liberation could be anything, a trip to Spain, buying your dream home, quitting your job and heading towards doing something that you truly have passion for. Everything and anything could be liberating.   
The character in ‘Highway’ takes us from carefreeness to vulnerability, petrification to liberation, all this on a 2 hours and 13 minute road-trip. Imtiaz Ali has always had travel as a recurring motive in all of his films. It is said that when you want to know someone, travel with that person. When you want to know yourself, travel. When you don’t know, what to do with your life, travel.

As much as I hate being or hearing preachy stuff, this movie did make me ask myself “Am I living my life?” “Have I been facing my fears?” “What would I regret not doing if today was my last day on this planet?” “Am I living a life that I chose or the one that I was steered into by the expectations of my family and friends?” and “Does traveling really have that much impact on a person?” The answers varied from noes and yeses but one thing which I couldn’t figure out was, “Why travel?” and then it hit me, I do need to get out of my comfort zone, all of us do. 

All of us need that one trip that just turns their lives around. That one trip that slows time for us which takes us away from our automated and monotonous routine, that one trip that helps us gain those important perspectives about life, that one trip that pushes us into a torrent of apparently uncomfortable situations like forcing us to meet and greet new people from completely diverse lifestyles and cultures or hike our way around a mountain where no one speaks our language, a second of “Culture shock” can leave an everlasting positive impact on us, it compels us to give back, share, help out and appreciate life.

We are not guaranteed old age. Without injecting too much of my personal opinion, I just have to say, stop living by the views that society imposes on you, those are just the expressions of a group that is already deeply conforming. At the end of it all, it is your choice to live how you wish.
Go for it and have no regrets. Always choose to buy experience over external objects.

Live for today. Take the Highway you feared.  

“The Purpose of life is to LIVE it.”  - Roosevelt
 
Special mention to the following books, movies and articles that made me want to write this piece.

Highway – Directed by Imtiaz Ali
Into The Wild – Book written by Jon Krakauer/ Movie directed by Sean Penn
Anything and Everything written by Bill Bryson 
On the Road - written by Jack Kerouac
Into thin Air - written by Jon Krakauer   
Bunch of Ted Talks, Articles on  Quora , Elitedaily and livelearnevolve


17 comments:

remya mohan said...

I love it... through this blog you have taken Writing to a whole new level..... you have done a fantastic work rahul.... Keep up the excellent work.... every single word you have written here is a lot to think about... Really inspiring... :-)

Rahul Menon said...

Thanks a lot yaar :) Really means alot

Vineet Sharma said...

Again, like many other things about you, this article tells who you really are...and what we should start doing :)

Rahul Menon said...

Thnx bhai :)

ramkee said...

Those last 2 paragraphs _/\_ Just what I need to hear... Thanks really.. :)

Rahul Menon said...

:) :) Thnx a million Ramkee ... btw Hala Madrid ;)

Sripradha said...

Amazing Raolo !!! :) Loved every bit of it. Could totally relate to what you had written about Rockstar in between as well... The music and movie, need to connect with it!! :) Keep writing !!!

Likith said...

Not just the movie but also your review inspired me. Keep writing.. keep inspiring us..

Anonymous said...

Had seen the movie jus as it released. My main motive or drive to watch the movie were rahman saabs songs;bt boy,did this movie impress me. It was very different from what I had expected and I loved what I saw. It was well put togther and as u mentioned, improved logic as from rockstar, which I stil standby as an excellent movie. I loved the way u described everything here. well done and all the best. Lookin forward for more from you...

Rahul Menon said...

Thnxx alot yaar :)

Rahul Menon said...

Thnx Likith bhai :)

Rahul Menon said...

Thnx a lot mate :)

Alka Singh said...

Wow ! Straight from heart this one is... Its never too late to discover what makes you happy, however which way this realization comes - in this case through a journey of living free and the way one wants to by doing things that makes one happy ! A well made thoughtful movie and a beautifully written post, and yeah and one must live happy, live free, f**k what other say and do their own thing ;-) I hope you soon go on that one trip of self discovery and much more !

Ravi said...

Love the passion you have towards the movies. You have all it takes to make it large at movies one day.you have challenged your comfort zone and hopefully heading in the right direction.All d best dude

CJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CJ said...

I stumbled upon this article because of a comment I read on Quora, and I'm glad I decided to follow the link. I loved Highway...it's one of the best movies I've ever seen and absolutely the best Hindi movie I've ever seen :) It's been on my mind since I saw it a month or so ago, and I had to see it again tonight to experience its brilliance once again, hence the mooching around on Quora after watching it again :D Anyway, it's really great to see that Highway had a similar impact on at least a few others. I liked the way you've described how it affected you on a personal level. The movie left me totally breathless and in awe, and I really hated that people criticized it. But in the end, you have to realize, as you said, that every piece of art touches an individual differently. So who cares if others don't appreciate it. I thought the story was beautiful, the performances were amazing (especially Randeep's), music was again awesome (Did the song Sooha Saha make your heart ache?! I swear I get goosebumps every time I hear it...), and the cinematography was breathtaking. Did you notice how the places where they travel through change according to their relationship? Like at first all rough roads and barren, salty lands when they're just captive and kidnapper, then greener areas as their relationship changes and mellows, and then finally white snowy mountain signifying how satisfying and pure their relationship has become. Ahh, anyway I'm sounding like a total nerd so I'll stop now. Great piece. Keep writing :)

P.S. I really liked Rockstar too (it's my boyfriend's favorite Hindi movie) and I love Into the wild (movie, the book's on my to read list)! Okay bye!

Rahul Menon said...

Thanks a lot CJ for taking time out to read the article and a special thanks for your comment :) Really means a lot. No doubt, Sooha Saha, Maahi Ve and Heera all were really touching and brilliantly used in the film. Love the fact that even you noticed how Imtiaz uses the background and locales to convey what the protagonists are going through. Great to meet a fellow movie nerd.
Thanks once again :)