You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


During a bus ride from the mountains of eastern Nepal to Kathmandu, the stories of a group of passengers intertwine.

With: Dayashang Rai, Asha Maragti, Shristi Ghimire, Karma, Rajan Khatiwada, Reecha Sharma, Rabindra Mishra, Nirmal Rai, Eelum Dixit, Saugat Malla, Sandeep Chhetri. (Nepali, English dialogue)

During the course of an obstacle-filled bus ride from the mountains of eastern Nepal to Kathmandu, the stories of a motley group of passengers intertwine in “Highway.” Low-budget, over-ambitious multi-strander from debuting helmer Deepak Rauniyar is more interesting for its glimpse of a politically tense, mixed-race society where tradition and modernity mingle uneasily than for the surfeit of uneven dramas and melodramas it attempts to tie together. The support of Danny Glover’s New York-based production shingle Louverture enabled this curio to raise finishing funds through online incubator Kickstarter and could spur further fest interest.

When a general strike in a small village immobilizes traffic and delays the travelers, a resourceful army lieutenant (Dayahang Rai) suggests that the bus masquerade as a wedding vehicle, since nuptial parties always gain free passage. However, the passengers face various other impediments — physical, spiritual and emotional.

The lieutenant has just swallowed a fertility potion and needs to bed his Kathmandu-based housemaid wife, Radhika (Asha Maragti), before 36 hours elapse. But in an O. Henry-like turn of events, Radhika discovers she’s pregnant from her affair with a criminally inclined colleague.

Back on the bus, the role of the groom falls to Pratiek (Eelum Dixit), a handsome gay man on his way to meet boyfriend Vishal (Sandeep Chhetri), whose transgender pal is murdered in a nightclub by a policeman. Acting as the bride, Pooja (Shristi Ghimire) seizes the opportunity to reconsider her own romantic choices.

Meanwhile, the bus driver’s girlfriend, exotic dancer and onetime prostitute Kavita (Reecha Sharma), impatiently awaits his arrival while trying to contend with a sick daughter and pressing debts. And in the least credible or interesting strand, an accomplished surgeon (Rabindra Mishra) cries over his estranged wife and becomes obsessed with a boutique mannequin while waiting for his mother-in-law to arrive.

In spite of the wildly uneven tone created as Rauniyar and co-scribe Abinash Bikram Shah tie the stories together in increasingly melodramatic ways, the on-location lensing of the bus journey, capturing rarely seen landscapes, architecture and real people, exerts a fascination of its own.

Deploying a mixed cast of amateurs and pros, Rauniyar allowed the thesps to improvise their own dialogue during extended rehearsals, which only adds to the tonal problems. On the tech side, inexpert editing makes it difficult to gauge the timeframe of events not taking place on the bus, and even which flashback is tied to which character. At the Berlinale world preem caught, poorly modulated soundtrack blared to painful effect.

Popular on Variety



Production: An Aadi production in co-production with Louverture Films. (International sales: Seagull Films, New York.) Produced by Deepak Rauniyar. Executive producers, Lonim P. Dixit, Sameer M. Dixit. Co-producers, Joslyn Barnes, Danny Glover, Jay Maharjan, Jaime Mateus-Tique, Susan Rockefeller. Directed by Deepak Rauniyar. Screenplay, Abinash Bikram Shah, Rauniyar, from a story by Rauniyar, Kedar Sharma, Khagendra Lamichhane.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Apal Singh, Jyoti Keshar Simha; editors, David Barker, Rauniyar, Rita Meher; music, Richard Horowitz, Vivek Maddala; art director, Rajan Khatiwada; costume designers, Sushant Shrestha, Asha Magarati; sound, Binyak Aryal, Devin Emke. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 10, 2012. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: Dayashang Rai, Asha Maragti, Shristi Ghimire, Karma, Rajan Khatiwada, Reecha Sharma, Rabindra Mishra, Nirmal Rai, Eelum Dixit, Saugat Malla, Sandeep Chhetri. (Nepali, English dialogue)

More Film

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]


    Brazil’s Pandora Filmes Readies Country’s First Classic Film Streaming Platform

    Brazilian distribution company Pandora Filmes was founded by André Sturm in 1989 as the country’s first independent distributor of foreign and domestic, classic and contemporary arthouse cinema. Still pushing the envelope three decades later, Juliana Brito is representing the company at this year’s Lumiere Festival, looking for classic film titles to fill out the catalog [...]

  • Hannah Minghella

    Bad Robot Poaches TriStar Pictures President Hannah Minghella to Lead Film Unit

    In a surprise announcement Thursday, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot revealed it has lured away Sony Pictures executive Hannah Minghella to lead its film division. Minghella will report to Abrams and Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath. She will oversee both development and production. TriStar executive vice president Nicole Brown will take up the mantle in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content