Highway

highwayy

The eternal wait :: The one question that I had to ask myself is “On the second day of October, what did the movie Besharam give to me”? It did take away seventy rupees, but I am not talking about that. The answer is a lack of interest in Hindi movies since that Gandhi Jayanthi had come up with terror which had me watch no Hindi movie at all for almost five months (yes, not even on the television). So, it was a necessity that I wait for sometime so that such disaster won’t happen too soon. But there is no denying the fact that I almost watched Jai Ho, but the show was housefull. There are not many movies that have been as hyped as Highway despite having no big male star right in the middle of the story. I always knew that the best thing would be to watch my next Bollywood movie in the form of Highway rather than any other. There have been so much talks about this movie like “what is it going to be?”, “what story will it tell?”, “Alia Bhatt should be so awesome in it, so its a sure watch?”, “isn’t it about Stockholm syndrome?” and so on. The Vampire Bat had heard so much or rather too much about the movie, and he finally decided to fly to the theatre on a motor-bike.

What is it about? :: Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt) is kidnapped just before her wedding as she goes on a night ride with her fiancee trying to keep away the pressures and tension of the big function. She is kidnapped by a group of criminals as they stop at a petrol pump. But as the gang realizes that she is the daughter of a rich and powerful man with links to the government, police and the army, they decide to cancel their plans. But Mahabir Bhati (Randeep Hooda) is not ready to give up as he takes her on a road trip away from the place so that they won’t be tracked. Even as she is initially bound and gagged by them, Veera gets more and more comfortable with her captors, and a bond develops between Mahabir and her. She feels free even as she is a captive, and feels so happy. She even refuses to escape when there is chance and feels that she should be with him for so much longer. She herself says that she doesn’t want the journey to end, as she has no desire to go back or go where the journey ends. But how long till her people finds them and the travel diary is put to a quick end?

The defence of Highway :: Most of the Keralites should remember a pseudo-travel movie with the long name Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and a big drag which begins with about fifteen minutes into it and ends only when the story finishes. Highway is far ahead of that one in almost all aspects, the most important ones being the acting and the visuals. Highway is a visually superior movie with its awesome locations, especially as it has succeeded in capturing the beauty of the paradise which is Kashmir. The beauty of nature becomes more and more joyful to watch as the movie moves on to the latter part of the second half, and it gets stronger and stronger by the time it reaches the end. Its messages of finding oneself and reaching beyond one’s fear are also stronger than ever. It’s use of the two protagonists, a man and woman, both having traumatic childhood works so well to touch our hearts. There is so much honesty in the way these are portrayed too, as there is no addition of stupid masala which makes worthless movies super-hits.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags a lot, and shows potential to keep dragging. From the beginning itself, the movie seems to make the viewers feel that there is not much to come, even as it is wrong. The character of the lady protagonist is rather too far-fetched to make one believe. She seems rather crazy at times (loosely reminding us of the semi-kidnapped lady protagonist of the Malayalam movie Kilukkam), and her attachment towards a criminal who keeps threatening her comes rather too soon. Except for one or two songs which are okay, the music fails to get the attention of the viewers, and there are times when they come when not needed. There is also the use of other languages or may be variations of Hindi which was rather difficult to follow. There was the need for subtitles at least in it comes rather South. The movie takes one away from any kind of usual entertainment which is usually looked for in such a flick. It won’t give anyone the exaggeration that they might look for in a love story as this keeps that side plain and simple.

Performers of the soul :: Well, most of us won’t identify the faces in the movie other than that of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. The former (he is the reason why I lament missing John Day which had only one late night show here – who cares for good thrillers with non-superstars who can act, right?) comes up with a powerful performance of brilliance, even as there are less dialogues for him; we can strongly believe that this portrayal by him will be appreciated. We can surely expect a lot more from him. Alia Bhatt is there as the centre of everything, right from the beginning to the end. Even as there is some struggle, she seems to be custom made for the role, seeming to be in so much ease with her character. There are occasions when one would wonder if she does rather too much or a lot more than needed, but that should have come with the character. It is hard to believe that this is only her second movie, and I had missed her first one, Student of the Year. She remains incredibly cute throughout the movie and makes it impossible for any other actress to come up with a better performance in such a role soon. She is so dynamic and full of energy that just her presence keeps the whole thing working so well.

Soul exploration :: The movie is the story of two people whose lives get connected by just one act of crime, a kidnap. It comes up with a lot of things to think about, and it remains so close to being a movie of the soul even if not there completely. Even as not all of them remain close to the truths about life, it is evident that there is a clear attempt to bring to the scene as much humanity as possible; not without its troubles, not in the absence of the good side, yet not abandoning the darker side which tries to get closer to the human soul with more power than ever before. Stockholm syndrome is explored from one side while it continues to be a travel diary as a whole. There are realizations being made about life, and it changes both the kidnapper and the kidnapped in a journey which goes on for kilometres. As Saint Augustine of Hippo says “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

How it finishes :: As the movie for which we have been long waiting for, Highway mostly delivers, thanks to the performances of the leading actors, the visuals and the message that it delivers. Despite the drag and the occasional inability to connect, the movie thrives in simplicity and that humanity which are its own Kraken and Leviathan in the huge ocean of movies this weekend. It’s emptiness is not of the soul, but of the physical world, and that is one void that everyone can afford to avoid. As Robert Frost says, when two roads diverge, you have to choose the one less traveled, and here it is Highway, and even as it might not go as expected, this one makes the difference, and there is no doubt about. But let me tell you, happiness is highly subjective, just like the opinions on this movie seems to be – ask Alia Bhatt’s character in Highway and she reiterates money can’t buy you happiness, or even anything close to that. So, if you are making a choice, think about all these factors mentioned above.

Release date: 21st February 2014
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Pradeep Nagar, Durgesh Kumar, Arjun Malhotra

highway copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Murder III

murd

The Vampire Bat has never been the fan of the original movie, Murder – but he was forced to change that one opinion to think about following the series with Murder 2. That made sure that this was going to be a series which has the worst in the beginning itself. It doesn’t matter how good people might think it was, it was never a good copy from Hollywood. The second was more close to glory as Prashant Narayanan came up with one of the best performances witnessed for such a long time. It was both gruesome and awesome at the same time. Then, the question would be about Murder 3 right now and the answer might be somewhere in between the first and the second of the series. It could never rise upto the second, but still creates a better impact than the first. It is supposed to be the remake of the Colombian thriller The Hidden Face, but at no point does it gives a feeling that it does not belong to this part of the world, for it has been changed well enough. It might still seem to defy logic, but that is something which is to be forgiven to attain the maximum effect of the needed horror.

Any disappointment about the movie has to be left to the first half, which is a little strange – it has a photographer who has turned alcholic after losing his girlfriend, along with his new girlfriend. He is a young man who just lost his future wife and has brought another one out of nowhere; not really inappropriate for the Murder series, but still something which tells the viewer a little about the protagonist, the new-age Icarus whose interests are as unlimited as his ambitions. He has his wings, but the question might be about the path through which he is flying, and also about his other interests while moving so close to that fire-starter who can burn more than just a few things of wax. He might have to think again about all these, and it is doubtful when he will have the opportunity to do so. Meanwhile, his first girlfriend is more of the one who sacrifices her own interests. Now that would make the question of her leaving him obsolete. That is a fact which would keep the cops on his tail, investigating about his hands in her disappearance. But knowing them as a loving couple, not many would doubt his involvement in her absence.

His second girlfriend is more of a Lady Icarus, from one angle, even as she is shown more as a sympathizer in the first half. There is no point where one can be sure about this one character though. She is not really a static character, but still not someone whos progress can be easily traced. There are events happening all around, indicating the presence of some supernatural force and a mystery that surrounds the protagonist. Most of it just seem to happen just for the sake of frightening, until most of the twists and further explanations are done in the second half of the movie. It brings light to what lies inside the shadows of a world which looks too simple from outside. It brings two worlds and combine them into one; there is one inside the mirror and the other outside; both human, one free and the other imprisoned – but the souls of both might be in their own prison. One of them is not seen and the other is there for everyone to see. A reversal of roles is a possibility which is attempted soon enough, what lies beneath the depths of the hearts of two women and one man is difficult to know.

The whole story revolves around the three people and the love triangle. While the first half almost made a mess of it with a kind of “romantic horror” or “horror romance” which was neither here nor there, the relations get intense and further explained in the second half. It suddenly surprises and even shocks the viewer out of nowhere, at a moment when it seemed to be running out of everything. It starts climbing from there, towards a good, justified climax and a fine finish. That wouldn’t make the first half bad though, as it never really failed in a collateral manner even in the beginning stages as some might have thought it to be. There are shades of what might happen in the second half right from the beginning itself. The essence of mystery never leaves the little world of this movie. It leaves some scratches for the audience to be in the hunt for the mystery. The creepy house and the strange surroundings are supported by a bath tub, bathroom sink and the shower acting in a supernatural way.

The most exciting question of the movie would be if there is a murder which would justify the title? The second movie had lots of bloody murders, but this one is more of a psychological murder. There is the murder of faith and trust, and there is the possiblity of one or two murders which might have happened in the end – that is an ambiguity, an ending which could be interpreted in more than one way. It might be an end with the death of two, death of one and the imprisonment of the other, or with nothing too bad happening in the mansion. Love continues to be a matter of life, death, horror, mental disorder and everything else, and its role is above the supernatural yet again. It might reach even bigger heights of the mind in a possible Murder 4. What we see in the movie is that redemption is attained by the ones who has taken them out of the attention of fake, carnal love. The rest are left to feel the heat. Well, there is beauty to the heat, and gorgeousness to the horror – not one, but two; for there is no way to deny that.

Sara Loren and Aditi Rao Hydari has made this one more of a movie centred on two women, almost entirely different, but still has their lives centred on one man. The former keeps the first half running with her stunning looks while the latter runs the second half. The female characters run from sympathy to seduction and possessiveness to torment, a journey which is independent from one another, but not entirely separated in the sequence of events. Both of them begin as simple victims to an infatuation which drives them to one man and the creepy mansion. It is only a matter time before the love-birds would be no less than the vultures of selfishness. As it continues to bring more and more questions into the heads of the viewers, the more successful it becomes. But still, there are the missing parts, for the movie has its own low points where its horror becomes kind of laughable. But that is something worth forgiving for the total effect, especially for the minutes towards the end of the movie.

Thinking about the most talked-about side of the movie, this is not exactly the erotic thriller. There is sensousness and the scarcity in the department of clothing could be taken into account. But this actually takes the elements of relationships and mental status to the new heights instead of the physical relationships. This time, it gets closer to the emotions even if the skinshow never loses its role in the movie. The philosophy might be mostly hidden, but the absence of a true villain or a true hero is the evidence of the fact that this is more open to the discussions than ever, unlike the previous two movies of the series. That adds to the absence of Emraan Hashmi as a new thing to the series. In simple words, what Murder 3 has done is that it has provided some proof that there is hope around here for the horror genre even without ghosts and serial killers; there is future in many forms, and this future is more than just stunning.

Release date: 15th February 2013
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Vishesh Bhatt
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren, Rajesh Shringarpure, Shekhar Shukla

murder3 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.