Every film starring Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Malhotra is special because in just 2-3 films they have turned into stars. And Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania has two of them and in fine form too. What director Shashank Khaitan does right is using DDLJ as a leitmotif for decoding the story. What he also does right is creating a crackling chemistry between the lead pair.
The story does not really deserve any brownie points. Its the usual boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy and girl want to marry but the father objects before he gives in. But in the treatment lies the film’s novelty. With a fine set of actors forming the support cast, HSKD is a film which keeps you smiling throughout.
As the story shifts gears in the second half and introduces us to Siddharth Shukla, the film gets even more interesting as the only thing missing in a romance also gets ticked off the box-otherwise called kabab mein haddi. Ashutosh Rana is given a well sketched role and he performs with gusto. The two friends of varun are riproaringly funny and do a brilliant job. But it is Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt who are the stars. They come up with a terrific performance which makes the story so believable.
The music is just apt with a mix of wedding, club and romantic songs. Director Shashank Khaitan hits a sixer with his first film and is a director who we can forward to.
As an audience, I enjoyed the film and I am sure you will too. Its illogical, makes no sense mostly but is a breezy watch and the jokes keep coming till the end..
There was a time when Indian books rarely witnessed cinematic translations. Our films were mostly the same old wine served in a new bottle. Then came a new breed of film makers who wrote stories which were edgy and fun. But some how once in a while, there was always a film which was adapted from a book. Chetan Bhagat changed all that. The most read Indian author writes books with a single point agenda- to see them made into films. And I will not disagree that most of stories have a seed which can see fabulous cinematic translations if only it is innovated well. This is where Kai Po Che worked and 2 States fails. There is nothing new which 2 States offers and stays loyal to its literary source. But that is the least of its problems. at 2 hrs 30 mins, its a film which is 2 long, 2 boring and 2 pointless which should have ideally ended in less than 2 hours. Why then is it doing so well? Blame it on the promotional campaign, the fan following of 2 States the novel and Alia Bhatt. Yes you read that right. The 2 film old Alia Bhatt scorches the screen and is the single most redeeming factor of the film.
The story is about a typical boy and girl who fall in love and agree to marry each other. What they sweat over for the rest of the film is marrying their families. The North vs South debate is stretched like a chewing gum and there wasn’t a single cliche which the director missed. As the film huffs and puffs to its end, we see both the leads Krish and Ananya slogging over getting accepted by the other family.
I would give credit where its due. Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt make for a cute couple, but in front of Alia’s charisma, Arjun’s act simply pales. The man who must be used to rough and tough roles by now, tries his hand at playing a upscale Delhi boy for the first time and doesn’t really falter. To support the sprightly young pair, we have Amrita Singh who still has the gravitas and Ronit Roy who snarls his way through as the boy’s parents and Revathi and Shiv Subramanium who are graceful in their parts.
With a spunky soundtrack and beautiful cinematography, all the film needed was crisp editing and that would have made it work like a charm. But sadly, that is not the case and the film remains a string of beautiful images strung together which as independent scenes make for a good watch, but as a whole film tests your patience.
Director Abhishek Varman makes a confident debut and the combo of Dharma and Nadiadwala esnures that he gets the crew and the locations he asked for. IIM Ahmedabad looks beautiful on camera and appears fresh.
But all said and done, it is Alia’s performance alone which I take back home from the film. If her performances in her last 2 films are anything to go by, this is an actress who will go a long way. Calling her phenomenal would be an understatement, sadly cant say the same about the film.
Let me put my biases on the table before I start this review. Imtiaz Ali is my favorite director. His body of work is incredible and the fresh perspective he gives to all his love stories has left me SOLD each time. Add to that the leitmotif of travel which is such an important of all his films is also one of the reasons why I am such a big fan. And this film is all about TRAVEL. So ever since the trailer was unveiled, my curiosity was piqued. The star cast was the only thing which was bothering me. After all, casting Alia Bhatt as a lead actress after her school girl act in Student of the Year came across as hara-kiri to me. How wrong I was. It turned out to be an Alia show at the end of it, with Randeep Hooda brilliantly underplaying his part and bringing a simmering intensity to his character which is sure to add gravitas to his glittering career.
Highway is not about the plot. It is about the experience. The plot is relatively simple. A rich girl is kidnapped by a gang of thugs and in the course of the journey, she develops feelings for her kidnapper. What differentiates the film from the rest is the transformation Alia’s character goes through. Add to that, the picture postcard locales right from the dusty roads of Gurgaon to the salt pans of Sambhar and the snow clad mountains of Himachal, the locations play a very important part in the film. In fact, if I may so, the locations are the 3rd lead of the film. Combine that with a phenomenal score by A.R Rahman and you have just watched another gem from a man who can do no wrong.
The dialogues which appear rather sketchy have their own charm. Unrehearsed and written on the spot, they seem to fit the film like a glove fits a hand. But what wins you over are moments of silence punctuated by raw ambient sounds. Rahman keeps his background score very minimal and that works just fine.
Coming to the performances, Alia Bhatt in only her second film delivers a knockout performance. While its too early to say its her best ever, it will surely be a task for her to supersede this one. Randeep Hooda is as usual brilliant and his overall look is terrific. Weather beaten and spouting Haryanvi like a pro, he plays the goon to perfection. The cinematography by Anil Mehta is top-class. Its not just the visuals, but his decision to pause and let you admire the flow of a stream, the snow clad mountains, the beautiful Kashmir valley is what works best.The sound design by Resul Pookutty is an ace and is the heart of the film.
About the story, all I can say is that this is not one of Imtiaz’s best works as a writer but then the director in him takes care of the rest and leaves you with a satisfied movie experience.
Highway is one of the most important films of recent times and probably one of the most defining ones. This ride is recommended pronto.