Intertwining stories are tough to portray, but Highway successfully narrates this 138-minute drive. Highway does not focus on city life or rural life in particular, but has its focus on human relationships and emotions in general. Portraying everyday situations convincingly against the backdrop of a highway is one of the film’s strengths, convening the nitty-gritties of everyday life in a car or even in a dhaba.
The film begins in a chawl, with twenty-something Shubham, who has failed a reality show contest, going to work as a masseuse. With skyscrapers in the background, one senses the metropolitan feel, but the film takes off from there with a bunch of stories. An engineer (Girish Kulkarni) has just landed, and wants to drive to Pune, to see his ailing father. His driver, Maruti is a laid-back village boy, who is constantly on the phone and dozing off. A family is shifting; three robbers board a national permit truck; and a workaholic man takes his pregnant wife to Pune. All their stories are told within the movie.
Shot almost entirely in cars and on the Mumbai-Pune highway, the film delicately cuts into relationships, slicing them up raw. Huma Qureshi and Tisca Chopra star as a TV actress and a cheating wife respectively, caught in their own web of lies and deceit. Qureshi is accompanied by a politician’s henchman, who begins to respect her after a while. Setting up characters quickly in the first half, the second half sees the entire cast stuck on the Mumbai-Pune highway, reminiscent of the hour-long jams seen on the highway every other weekend.
Director Umesh Kulkarni, of Deool fame, has gone with an unconventional storyline, while tracking each character’s progress. The film tends to drag towards the second half, almost focusing too much on the characters. The cinematography is shaky at the start, but captures various types of people seen traveling in India, ranging from the racer to the father who takes his boy for the first time on a luxury bus. Girish Kulkarni is dependable as the clumsy NRI, often picking unnecessary fights with his driver. The movie marks the return of Renuka Shahane, who leaves an impression in a small role.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Watch this for the last sequence, which is stunning and cunningly hidden in the screenplay. Qureshi, making her Marathi debut is comfortably awkward as her role demands, while Umesh Kulkarni has expertly taken his crew to his destination.