There are several factors that go into making a good film, and it usually takes just one for a consumer to walk into a theater. For me, it’s usually the story, then an actor, then filmmaker, but in the case of last month’s (Feb 21st) “on the road” release, Highway, the director is what had me front line and center with buzzing interest.
Imtiaz Ali is a writer-director that I always keep my eyes, on mainly due to his first hit project Jab We Met. That film became a quick favorite of mine, for it was a quippy romantic comedy that hit all the right notes, including great soundtrack and cast. He went on to create another rom-com hit that missed me altogether but with Rockstar(2011) he stepped on the motherload of amazing, therefore, I have little doubt he’d hook me once again with his material.
So, when I read his upcoming release was his first film idea, one he’d been nursing for decades, I had to see it on screen, to get a glimpse of what type of story would be swirling in this man’s mind for years— a story he couldn’t not tell. However, I soon realized it wasn’t just a story he needed to tell but a filming experience he wanted to endeavor; a film created chronologically, not just about a journey, documenting the journey.
Synopsis: The film outlines the story of a young woman who is kidnapped before her wedding and held for ransom wherein she develops Stockholm syndrome towards her kidnapper.
Cast: Randeep Hooda (Monsoon Wedding, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Bombay Talkies), Alia Bhatt (Student of the Year)
Hooda is a personal bias of mine, though he’s considered a black sheep of sorts due to his approach and film projects, he’s fairly underrated, yet one of the sexiest and most profound actors of his generation. Each of his characters become haunting in their own way, for Hooda can unearth or rather, create a depth within the most shallow of characters.
Visually, the dynamic and vibe between Hooda and Bhatt, reminds me of Salman Khan and Sneha Ullal in Lucky (2005); fresh faced young girl and the much older worldly protector type. Given the stills, it won’t be hard to believe why any young woman would fall for a dirty rugged Hooda, especially within such close proximity.
This will be Alia’s second film release and I have good feelings about the project. She looks wonderful in the stills, for she’s shed all the glitz and glamour of her début and wears the worn traveler look quite well. Her character is said to come to terms with the hard truths about herself and her true desires, and from what we see, her travel time with Hooda’s Mahabir is solemn, cold, and isolated but she appears rather liberated, introspective and carefree.
Thoughts: Another draw to this film for me was that the majority of the film was in transit and based on the interactions between two actors and nature. For some reason, I believe when actors are given limited resources, there’s more of a demand to draw from themselves and in turn the audience gets a glimpse of what they are truly made of as performers.
Stockholm syndrome is a touchy and undoubtedly taboo subject because there’s a fine line between the effects of the circumstance and the effects of happenstance. My hope is this film highlights the latter. I could care less about the potential love story of the leads and find myself much more intrigued by what adventures these characters will experience whilst together. Ultimately, I’m a sucker for proximity stories and this kidnapping can be the platform for discussion in several ways. For I believe, there are motivations and intentions behind Veera’s growing attachment to her captor Mahabir, as well as the initial crime. Something simmering underneath the surface that I can’t wait to see uncovered.
[stills courtesy of labeled sites]