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‘Highway’ movie review: Telugu thriller engages, but doesn’t go beyond tried and tested tropes

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The Telugu crime thriller engages, but doesn’t go beyond tried and tested tropes

The Telugu crime thriller engages, but doesn’t go beyond tried and tested tropes

Writer, director and cinematographer K V Guhan begins the story with the lines ‘There will always be a reason why you meet people; either you need to change your life or you are the one that will change theirs’. In line with this thought, the Telugu thriller Highway, streaming on Aha, follows a handful of characters who happen to cross paths and are pulled into a journey of life and death.

Highway uses common tropes that one associates with killer-on-the-loose thrillers of Hollywood and Indian cinema and reimagines them in the context of a crime drama set on the highway connecting Visakhapatnam and Mangaluru.

Vishnu (Anand Deverakonda), a photographer from Visakhapatnam, and his friend Samudram (Sathya) take the road route to Bengaluru for a wedding photography assignment. Along the way, they meet Tulasi (Manasa Radhakrishnan) and are entrusted with the task of making her reach Mangaluru. In the meantime, a psychopath killer identified only as ‘D’ is on the prowl for his next prey, with a task force headed by investigation officer Asha Bharath (Saiyami Kher) on his heels.

Highway

Cast: Anand Deverakonda, Abhishek Banerjee, Manasa Radhakrishnan

Direction: K V Guhan

Music: Simon K King

Streaming on: Aha Telugu

We get a fair idea of Vishnu’s loving family and in contrast, Tulasi’s situation of being detached from one parent and going in search of another, whom she has never met. The banter between Vishnu and Samudram brings in a few laughs, and appreciably the film doesn’t dwell on it more than is necessary. 

Guhan’s camera and Simon K King’s background score aptly contribute to the mood of the thriller. The modus operandi of the psychopath in picking his targets is neatly laid out. As long as the narrative unravels how the task force tries to close in on D and he hoodwinks them, it keeps up the momentum. 

From a mile away one knows who would be D’s next crucial target. Yet, the brief characters that make an appearance along the way and the incidents keep us hooked by the manner in which all of it heightens the threat to the target.

While Tulasi finds help and breathes easy in the company of Vishnu and Samudram, what follows reflects how unsafe things can get for a naive young woman who is compelled to travel alone on an unfamiliar route.

Manasa plays her part with innocence and vulnerability while Anand is convincing as the sensitive and responsible guy. Saiyami Kher enacts her brief part with conviction but this is a character that could have been fleshed out better. John Vijay goes overboard as the creepy truck driver. Making his debut in Telugu, Abhishek Banerjee is spot on as the eerie killer. Similar to Paatal Lok, he manages to send shivers down one’s spine without speaking much. 

Highway unfolds on familiar lines and delivers thrills from time to time. However, it falls short in the final portions that seem stretched and dilute the potential for a nail-biting finish. 

The film makes for a fairly engaging watch by staying true to its genre and doing away with frills. However, anyone who has watched crime dramas and thrillers involving a psychopath character is likely to have a sense of deja vu. A few innovative elements in characterisation or storytelling wouldn’t have hurt.



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