Confinement means different things to different people and Alia Bhatt has captured it in almost every major way possible through her movies. Highway shows how small those big houses can be…so small that the back of an unclean truck seems bigger.
Dear Zindagi shows that one can say affected, sometimes for life, by things others don’t even notice. Udta Punjab is a commentary on the trappings of addictions and her latest project, Darlings is a wonderful and successful attempt at depicting the suffocation of an abusive household.
The metaphorical imprisonment is a common theme in most of Alia’s movies, another commonality being that she manages to set herself free in the end. There are few things done by Hindi cinema that come close to the joy of watching the latter.
This has been a conversation for a while.
at this point alia plays women trapped in multiple socio-political and pyschological tappings in every film that her liberating ending shots in films deserve a write-up of its own. Highway, Dear Zindagi, Udta Punjab, Raazi (not fully), Gangubai and now Darlings.— 球子 Hara ✨ (@Mystic_riverrr) August 5, 2022
Alia Bhatt’s movie Gangubai Kathiawadi has been filmised on a true story of a girl named Ganga Harjivandas. Narrative shows how a helpless girl is trapped & exploited for prostitution. It’s a must watch movie on Netflix. Acting & quality on par with those in Mirzapur & Wasseypur. https://t.co/sFNs5wY4ds— Sherdil Khan Baloch (@sdkgcu) July 11, 2022
#HIGHWAY starts with Veera going on a drive in desperate need of fresh air and what a fitting start to the film that indeed turned out to be a breath of fresh air for showing us how finding freedom in captivity feels like!#ImtiazAli–@aliaa08–@RandeepHooda ❤️#5YearsOfHIGHWAY pic.twitter.com/jH96wz2hM5— M S Krishna Prateek (@mskp_29) February 21, 2019
These endings are cathartic because, in real life, things do not pan out so cleanly. Even if there is an eventual escape, the weariness of the struggle is often so overwhelming, that it’s tough to celebrate in that moment.
Not to mention that there is rarely a single, specific moment of freedom. The ‘final act’ is stretched out, sometimes for a person’s entire existence. This makes the portrayal of liberation in cinema very important.
Another contributing factor is that there are certain aspects of your struggle that you only understand when you see them in someone else, which is why we hold on so dearly to these characters.
Quite something, right? A reason as good as any to be grateful to artists.
That said, it would be improper to assume that everyone who loves Alia’s work is trying to resolve a persistent personal problem.
Her performances are impressive, understandably, even for those who are not. She plays her characters so convincingly, that empathy among viewers is generated organically. Then, all her victories become theirs too.
That’s a prolific achievement because not only is her depiction of liberation very different in each movie, there is hardly any similarity between the characters as well. They all come from totally different worlds.
Veera, in Highway, is a woman from a rich family and has everything one could ask for, except peace. She has nothing in common with Bauria, a hockey player, who becomes a migrant worker because she has to feed herself.
Meanwhile, in Darlings, she plays Badru, a woman in love who tries everything to change her abusive husband. The naivety breaks your heart, and it is this pain that drives the sense of accomplishment when she decides to take revenge.
To ultimately make the audience feel the same kind of relief for all of them, is a testament to Alia’s talent.
People are saved by cinema in more ways than one, but generally, it has something to do with hope. Alia Bhatt, enabled by some great filmmakers and writers, has done a tremendous job of giving people hope. Movies don’t have all the answers, but they help.