Highway – ek selfie aar paar — A Marathi film by Umesh Kulkarni
A Reflection on Life by Sakshi Tandon
Highway is a film about the journey undertaken by various travellers in separate vehicles on the Mumbai-Pune highway. Each one is in a hurry to reach their destination. This outer journey however turns out to be a journey within for some and transforms their lives to some extent. This is a film that made me think deeply about our lives. The director succeeds in recreating the complicated space in which we are living these days; not only on the silver screen but also in the minds of his audience. A choking road full of cacophony, travelers clung constantly to their phones, various travelers sharing the same transport fighting over trivial matters — this traffic jam definitely goes beyond the road. In a much similar way, drawn towards various dramas, we are living many lives simultaneously, thinking about many things at one time, and dwelling in multiple spaces at a given time. Highway – ek selfie aar paar transposes us in this multiple milieu by narrating many stories at one time, which highlights the complexity of city life. The technology just adds fuel to the flame. So while the audience is engaged in one story, they are invariably pulled towards another one much like individuals in their life who think about something and are pulled towards a thousand other things at the same time. While the audience is witnessing a trivial dispute between a husband and his wife travelling in an Innova, they are constantly thinking about a possible conversation between a middle-aged woman and a young masseur whom she has hired and is driving to Lonavala, or are curious about the suspicious heavy luggage a man is carrying in a truck. They are also worried about the father, travelling with his 8-year-old son who steps down from the bus for a while and misses it while his son is still sleeping in the bus. The audience goes simultaneously through a wide range of experiences at one time – curiosity, joy, anxiety which keeps them hooked to the film till the end. In continuation to our analogy with life, it is this question, “What next” that keeps us going in life; maybe makes life more exciting for some, and more dramatic for others. In the second half, there is a moment of pause in the film when everything comes to a halt due to a roadblock. All vehicles cannot go ahead and thus the travelers come out and start interacting at a deeper level. This is the time when we see meaningful bonds developing, friendships blossoming, collectivity and simplicity coming forth, egos being shattered. A deep conversation between a simple house wife, and an egoistic NRI transforms his individualistic approach towards life. She explains him how “easy things become even with difficult people when we make them our own.”
The film for me is a beautiful representation of our surface beings tied up in thousand things, angry, frustrated, moved by hundreds of emotions and our inner being which blossoms in silence and carries the answers to our questions. Do we really need a “what next” as food for life? Can’t we be more dedicated and engaged in what we are at the moment. Or maybe we just need a moment of silence to let the beautiful things come up. Sometimes a (road) block does that for us in life as it forces us to reinvent our inner means to move ahead in life. The film also makes me think about the concept of freedom? What really is True freedom ? Free from exploitation, from domination, from attachments, from thoughts or from desires?