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April 07, 2014

Road to Discovery

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

Both Highway and Queen, which released around international women’s day, use a journey as a metaphor to define their protagonists’ inner growth

  • Kangna Ranaut in Queen
    Kangna Ranaut in Queen
  • Alia Bhatt in Highway
    Alia Bhatt in Highway

As its name suggested, a road trip was expected to play a big role in the plot of Imtiaz Ali’s latest movie, Highway. Then came Queen, directed by Vikas Bahl, a flick that also had a journey for more than its mere visual value.

Quite often, film-makers make a lead protagonist’s adventures the pivot on which the plot unfolds – as destinations speed past on the route map, twists and turns in the story take viewers to the denouement. An iconic movie that is remembered for its meanderings around Europe that culminated in a climax in India is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Who can ever forget Simran (Kajol) and Raj’s (Shah Rukh Khan) ramblings? The falling-in-love protagonists are separated by fate and family, prompting Raj to return to his homeland to claim his girl. Later was seen yet another memorable romantic adventure – Jab We Met in which the shenanigans are the brainchild of its heroine Geet Dhillon (Kareena Kapoor). The feisty Punjabi girl runs away from her home with reluctant co-traveller Aditya Kashyap (Shahid Kapoor). The film traverses cities and mindsets before culminating in the happy-ever-afterstory where boy meets girl to script the perfect end.

Though both are tales with travel, Highway and Queen are different from the abovementioned films in significant ways. For those who have not seen either or both, in these 2014 releases the curtain rises on a marriage being planned. In both, the nuptials do not happen. And both end with the girls finding their voice in the finale – a voice that has them stand up and grab their spot on the road that is life.

And in this defining moment, there is no male counterpart in sight. In the former, the contract killer (Randeep Hooda) has been gunned down. The heroine returns only to speak up against her childhood tormentors and imprisonment in her own home, walking out to seek peace and solace in the mountains. In the latter, Rani aka ‘Queen’ returns from her solo honeymoon having faced several culture shocks on the way that widen her innocent view of the world. She firmly plonks her engagement ring in her fiancé Vijay’s hand and exits with a smile on her face to a new beginning, one of her own making. For the girls – and this is what makes them and the films different – it is interesting to see both confront their demons within with courage, discover their inner resources and eventually put their past behind them and move on post a catharsis.

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