Travel symbolizes the journey of life which is equally erratic and unpredictable. Travelling often makes one find her/himself; find the inner self which one tends to ignore while being in the comfort and luxury of home. Therefore, perhaps, author David Mitchell asserts that; “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” Of late, road trip movies which capture the very mood of travel have been an incessant choice with Bollywood movie makers that depict the metamorphosis of characters as they venture out, make mistakes and finally meet their true selves at the end of their voyages. In this article of mine, I have discussed five movies those are close to my wandering heart i.e. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(2011), English Vinglish (2012), Highway (2014) and Queen (2014) which portray characters on trips and their transformations as they learn to accept, adapt and enjoy in the process. Though movies such as Queen and English Vinglish cannot particularly be tagged as road trip movies, but they do emphasize on the intrinsic power of travelling that enrich lives and enlighten souls leaving one craving for more.
1. Queen (2014)
Queen, the highly acclaimed movie of 2014, a soul gratifying saga of a naïve girl‘s journey to Europe, can be regarded as the best instance of how a trip, planned or unplanned, can awaken new consciousness and solidarity in a person. Rani (Kangana Ranaut), coy and diffident, is dumped by her fiancé (Raj Kumar Rao) on the eve of her wedding day. Instead of crying over the break up, she chooses to go alone on her pre-planned honeymoon trip to Paris and Amsterdam all alone. In the movie, Rani’s actual life begins as she comes out her comfort zone. Learning to be alone is the first thing that her trip teaches her. Travelling alone to Europe challenges her inner fears and insecurities. By befriending bohemian Vijayalakshmi, sharing hostel room with three boys and kissing her hot Italian crush, Rani turns her lemons into lemonades. She seems to celebrate her new found freedom along with her crazy and new found friends. When someone is on a journey, many things change during the course. Plans change and new plans pop up. During the trip, Rani learns that planning in life too changes and one has to adapt to come out with flying colours.
2. Highway (2014)
In this 2014 movie Highway, director Imtiaz Ali breaks myth of home and its conservative alliance with shelter and protection. Ironically, for the protagonist Veera (Alia Bhatt), her venture on the highways all over North India gives her more sense of freedom and security contrary to her abusive childhood back home. Her travel through the roads of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Kashmir along with her kidnapper (turned lover) Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) makes her a person confident enough to ask questions. Her trips though roads, valleys, and mountains encourage openness and curiosity in her. Veera’s journey compels her to open up a new realm of thought and possibility. It brings forth her new found willingness to question old views and convictions and she starts to see the world from different angles.
3.English Vinglish (2012)
In this heart warming movie, Traditional Shashi (Sridevi), is a homemaker, poor in English and low in self-esteem. She ventures into the metropolitan America which changes her equation with almost everything including her arrogant spouse, insolent kids, and most importantly with her own timid self. Forced by the circumstances, Shashi has to go alone to New York and a whole new world of experiences awaits for her that challenges her sense and sensibilities in a significant way. As Shashi goes out of her mundane routine and ventures into an unexpected life, she senses an overwhelming sense of absolute freedom. When she is on her trip all by herself, she is more open to change which would have been more difficult if she were in her insipid regular life. In the process, Shashi welcomes the change in her with open arms. She takes up English speaking course, makes new friends and in the process, empowers herself by unleashing the wonderful, irresistible and intelligent person she is, but whom she had neglected all along her life back in India.
4. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
A bachelor trip to Spain changes the life of three friends Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Kabir (Abhay Deol), and Imraan (Farhan Akhtar). Travel is something the forces people to be outside the box of their regular life and compels them to grow and change for the better. While on the trip, Arjun comes out of his box, learns to disconnect himself from material persuasions, and even falls in love while on road. Arjun’s trip to Spain teaches him to enjoy every moment whereas Kabir learns to be assertive and say NO. While being on the trip, Kabir comes out of the societal and emotional chain and gets a chance to recreate himself. He becomes the one he actually wants to be. Likewise, Farhaan comes in terms of his own identity and lets his insecurities go after meeting his biological father in Seville. Arjun, Kabir, and Imraan’s maiden voyage to Spain and fighting their fears in form of Deep Sea Diving, Sky Diving and Bull Run force them into new and refreshing perspectives on things and which brings forth interesting changes in their personalities.
5. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)
In This highly acclaimed movie by Aparna Sen, shy and conservative orthodox Tamil Iyer Brahmin Meenakshi comes in terms with her womanhood as she steps into a bus journey in the backdrop of a communal riot. Her journey with Bengali Muslim wildlife photographer Raja Chowdhury (Rahul Bose) gives her a new sense of love, affection and appreciation for life. She realizes that the best experiences are often not scheduled or anticipated. She learns to expect the unexpected and learns to love it as well. This trip teaches that one cannot assume things always and things may go wrong. Orthodox and conformist Meenakshi transforms into more sensible and tolerant during the journey and her mute but warm love story with Raja haunts like a romantic travelogue.
These wonderful movie based on road trips and voyages depict that while on a journey, we try to look at things from different perspective which might not happen when we they are in the luxury of home. We must just disconnect ourselves from everything and we might be amazed by how fresh we shall feel once we get back home. We might finally go home with a new “ME”, loving ourselves more, appreciating our lives more, and longing for our homes more. Therefore, I feel Rumi is probably correct when he writes “Travel brings power and love back into your life.” AMEN.