The hype surrounding the latest movie Highway was tremendous. After LOOT this probably is the only movie that I was actually looking after for two reason, first being the only movie to be showcased at the 62nd Berlin film festival and secondly the ensemble cast of all the next generation actors from Saugat Malla, Karma, Richa Sharma and the latest favorite in town Dayahang Rai. I wanted to watch it as soon as it released because I didn’t want to know about it and specially I didn’t want people talking about the story and giving out the spoilers beforehand but I didn’t really have the time to do so and I am actually glad because people were criticizing it for its story. So, when I went into the theater today, I had zilch expectation from it. I just went there to support a Nepali movie that came up with a noble concept..well, at least in terms of Nepali movie making but I was pleasantly surprised to watch a movie that not only try to provoke the cliched movie sensibilities of the nepali audience but it actually make the audience sit down and question themselves and this I believe is an achievement in itself because the nepali audience is fond of those masala movies where the protagonist kicks the crap out of 10 people. In fact the reason people are criticizing this movie is a because of the LOOT hangover but they forget that these two movies are of a different genre. While Loot was a thriller, this movie is more of a art movie..well for me at least.
Highway is a story about different characters from different walks of life which are inter connected with each other without even them knowing about it. With the backdrop of the bandh culture that has been going around in the country for sometime now by which many of us is affected in some way or the other, the five main characters in the movie needs to reach to their respective destination as soon as possible due to their own urgencies and the resolutions they come up against the bandh while desperately trying to reach the place they want to.
The back and forth recalls in the movie which is used to define the characters might get a little confusing at times but the director tries to show the intensity of each characters in their own way. While the characters needed more clarity, the screenplay could have been much tighter. The irony of the “democratic” country Nepal is that there is no freedom of expression and the censor board goes just a step ahead to prove it with removing some of the names. I don’t understand why are these censors so politically driven that they fail to see that the movie is just an expression and will not in anyway promote the political agendas. Anyways, the actors have done superb job and each and everyone has done a great job and even the story of each characters are interesting in their own parts.
When the movie was over, there were people laughing and talking about how the movie wastes their 90 minutes and I was laughing at them for expecting a Loot out of Highway just because most of the actors were same. I pity such audience and pray that their movie sense will grow with each movie like HIGHWAY. Kudos to the directors for trying something as noble as this.