Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Highway: A Confluence of Emotions

Highway- Ek Selfie Aarpaar
Length: 138 Minutes
Poducer: Vinay Waman Ganu
Director: Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues: Girish Pandurang Kulkarni
Cast: Girish Kulkarni, Renunka Shahane, Sunil Barve, Mukta Barve, Tisca Chopra, Huma Qureshi, Kishor Kadam, Nipun Avinash Dharmadhikari, Satish Alekar, Nagraj Manjule

     David Mitchell, in his book ‘Cloud Atlas’ says, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself”. Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s Highway-Ek Selfie Aarpar makes sure that its characters and the viewers too meet themselves at the end of a 138 minutes long movie. This road film travels through almost every human emotion and just like Umesh’s past ventures gives an enlightening and refreshing experience to the viewers at the end of the journey.
     It’s a story based entirely on the very busy Mumbai-Pune Express Highway; featuring all its characters travelling on this highway for various reasons through various vehicles. An NRI scientist in town to meet his hospitalized father, a TV stargoing to a political event, accompanied by a stereotypical political bhai a corporate biggie trying to win the office politics on the phone while dealing with sentimental talks and arguments of his pregnant wife, a woman constantly bashing her husband who has cheated on her and a football fan sharing a cab with them, a socialite with a rent boy for an extra-marital adventure,  a father and a differently-abled son travelling by a Shivneri bus, a bunch of Telugu villagers getting a lift in a truck and carrying a mysterious box, a couple struggling with an injury because of  a road accident, a sex worker and her mother with a schizophrenic man carrying a bird cage in his hands and a middleclass man travelling in a shared taxi are the central characters along with the numerous others on the same canvas. They all come from different walks of life, carrying their own baggage of what they are. Each one is in a hurry to reach their respective destinations. But the movie captures far more than just their journeys.
      First half quickly establishes the plot introducing all characters. The second half is the heart of the movie. The journey suddenly stops due to traffic jam and then, the audience is treated to a kaleidoscope of characters struggling, unintentionally clashing, with a plot being crafted out of their interactions with one another. It’s always a tough task to handle such an unwanted halt in lives, and while handling this trouble, some questions hidden deep within are provoked, the judgments are challenged, the assumptions are thrown away, emotions are stirred and what comes out in the end is the escape we all are longing for.
      It is a simple story having many layers and strings. The beauty of the film lies in its frames, camera angles, music and background score. Amit Trivedi has done a marvelous job with catchy tracks. Background music which expresses as much or sometimes more than the dialogues is more commendable. Every frame is stunning and a say-it-all type. The one I loved the most is the introducing scene, where a Chawl boy comes out of his house and we see a huge skyscraper in the background of chawl with that boy standing in front with bright sunlight on his face; a say-it-all frame, isn’t it? Not to forget, the dialogues penned by Girish Kulkarni are impressive too, adding a necessary crisp to the story. The scene where Girish and Renuka Shahane while eating chivda, talk their hearts out, is one of the best scenes in the movie. The metaphor created with a Marathi poem, “Ghan tami shukra bagh rajya kari” and the word game between Tisca chopra and her companion are couple of another most impressive things.
      In the acting department, everyone has performed their best. It is Huma Quereshi and Tisca Chopra’s debut in Marathi films. They have smaller roles and they have done their job perfectly. All other big names in Marathi industry have maintained their standards. Girish Kulkarni, National award winner yet again, wins the audiences. But the most appreciable piece of work comes by a veteran, Renuka Shahane portraying a middle-aged, middle-class wife doing the balancing act of adjusting with tantrum-throwing husband and finding the happiness in small things.
     When the end arrives, film’s strange tagline and the strange posters suddenly appear so apt. The climax doesn’t really end the journey, it discovers a new way. With all the emotional ups and downs, film finally sets to the ultimate emotional goal-Happiness and Hope. We are in a hurry to reach a destination always, but this film makes us love the journey. Despite the length and billions of characters, the film neither gets boring nor confusing. It is really a remarkable and heart touching yet an out-of-the-box attempt indeed.

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