Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014

Dir: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt

Veera is a pretty doll from a filthy rich family, Mahabir is a rugged abductor. Imtiaz Ali weaves a very beautiful relationship between the two when Mahabir kidnaps Veera for ransom. Knowing that Veera's father is a very influential person, instead of backing out from the plan, he sticks to the plan and flees with few of his aides in his truck with Veera gagged and hogtied at the back of the truck.

When Veera is held captive by Mahabir's gang and her life is hanging by a thread, I found it incomprehensible to accept the casual blabber of this girl, she not missing her home and parents but, when she tells him about the traumatic episodes of her past, I started connecting the dots and it made sense. When one of Mahabir's aides tries to misbehave with Veera, Mahabir slaps that guy. Mahabir's motives are very clear, he has an angst against the rich and he wants money in return for Veera's release. Veera's confiding to Mahabir about being molested by one of the family friends does not seem so wrong now. It plays a significant part in the turn of events. Had Mahabir's aide not misbehaved with Veera and Mahabir had not rescued her, would she have trusted Mahabir? I dont think so. Having seen a paedophile who belongs to the clan, it does not surprise me if Veera starts trusting a man who rescues her from getting raped, though being her abductor!

After that cathartic talk, Veera just stays near the door of the truck only to thank him for lending her the ears and help her blurt it out, which she might not have told any one in the past. He opens the door of the truck (like a gentleman?!), but she hugs him as a token of gratitude. At this point, I am not sure what Mahabir thinks of this gesture. He puts her arms around her hesitantly feeling sorry about her past.

I do not think it is love between a couple that exists between the two, but there are more dimensions to it. At times, it was like a father and his daughter -- he shares his chaddar with her when they would be travelling atop the bus and she leans on him, when Veera breaks free and dances to the seductive tune of 'I wanna mashup', Mahabir smiles at her as if a father is looking at his teenage daughter dancing. At times, it was like a mother and son -- lullaby scene and also she pats him back to sleep when he wakes up of a nightmare at the back of the truck and he slightly curls his body indicating the fetal position, Then in the most heart wrenching scene of the movie, where Mahabir fails to collect all his courage to enter the house seeing Veera preparing food for him and breaks down hysterically outside the house, she hugs him like a mother hugging a child. I still get goosebumps remembering this scene.

Veera once clears this out to Mahabir, "Mera, tumhaare bachche palne ka plan nahi hain... shaadi kar ne ka bhi plan nahi hain.. kuchch bhi plan nahi hain". She just wants 'this whole thing' to last for some more time. Ironically, by saying she has no plans, she makes clear to Mahabir what she expects out of this relationship. Until then, was Mahabir also so clear about what to expect out of this relationship? This is debatable.

The movie is full of many subtle symbolism that are beautifully evocative and at the same time, not contrived. Veera, born and bred in palatial mansions and not being an out door girl, feels claustrophobic inside the dilapidated building where she is held captive. She shouts to her kidnappers through a window that she feels suffocated inside and asks their permission to come out and sit in Sun and get some fresh air. And the kidnappers oblige to her request which even her parents would have denied her! It's so ironic but so beautifully put. In another scene, Mahabir leads her to a small shop to buy her new clothes and she nudges him about his mother's whereabouts and asks him to promise her that he would meet his mother soon. When they are out from the shop, he follows her! The whole power equation changes after that conversation in the shop. The truck driven by Mahabir with Veera tied and dumped at the back of it, wiggles through dark alleys in the beginning and by the end of the movie, the truck will be amidst the open mountainscapes. Mahabir even chucks the truck he drove till then and travels with Veer in public transport as if he has given up on controlling their journey and has left it to the driver called fortune.

Alia Bhatt is charming as Veera, suits the role well. Randeep Hooda is awesome, hope he gets many more such meaty roles in future. 

For me, the movie was as much about Stockholm Syndrome and women raising their voices against child abuse, it was as much about two souls longing for love and finding that in their journey on a highway however brief lived that platonic relationship was.

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