Imtiaz Ali’s Highway was recently screened at the Berlin Film Festival’s Panaroma Section and given the terrain of Imtiaz Ali’s repertoire of work, Highway is as simplistic and as elaborate as your perception allows it to be. Without commenting further on the kind of expectations surrounding the film, it is surprising that Indian media is constantly hailing Highway’s approach to Stockholm Syndrome for its novelty. From its teasers, the film might flaunt one of the best cinematography Bollywood has witnessed in the recent years, but it is definitely not unusual for Bollywood to tread into the banal territory of Stockholm Syndrome. It has been done over and over, in different tints and hues so originality isn’t the primary concern when it comes to elucidating further on the concept. Definitely on Ali’s part, the film is a bold move. Unlike other filmmakers who grab the easiest route out and make formulaic trash myriad times over.
When it comes to novelty, there are reservations on the same. The resplendent and mighty talented Rani Mukerji made an entry into the mainstream cinema with a very forgettable film called Raja Ki Ayegi Baarat. in an interview, Karan Johar had said in her first film Rani was screaming too much. The story of a woman raped by a rich brat, the story traces how the court decrees for them to get married and how eventually the victim falls in love with the man. Quite a queasy subject? Watch the movie and find out how loud can it be.
Obviously Ali won’t deal with a sensitive issue in an overblown manner, his subtle touches will surely tackle it smoothly. While the afore mentioned film did not value the treatment much, examples like Pinjar and even Mani Ratnam’s Raavan would be more relevant in pointing out how Stockholm Syndrome in films can be treated with care and convey in right measures how the psychological bent of mind dig out positive feelings towards the one who has captivated them.
It is not always dealt with in a romantic angle. The definition of the syndrome refers to positive feelings which may or may not be romantic in its fabric. Even the very commercial filmmaker Kabir Khan did invest in a tryst with reflecting the same. His film Kabul Express too had John Abraham and Arshad Warsi ending up sympathizing with their Taliban kidnapper.
So it is a faulty statement to hail Highway as the first of its sorts. Visibly, it can qualify as path-breaking in terms of its picturesque cinematography and even the pitch perfect, soulful music but Highway is definitely not the first to introduce the idea of Stockholm Syndrome to the industry. Bold Attempt and perhaps this Friday will prove it as a fascinating film too, but not exactly an initiator of this idea to Bollywood.