Producers: Anurag Kashyap, Ekta Kapoor, Sameer Nair and Vikram Aditya Motwane
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh, Satish Kaushik
Rating: Four stars
Drugs is real menace to society and our youth are an easy prey to the vultures of death. Unlike some who were hell bent to make us believe that Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab is anti-Punjabi, the film is not anti-Punjabi at all. Everyday, thousands of youth in India and across the globe succumb to over addiction and the power of drug King pins. It dawns upon me what sycophants like Pahlaj Nihalani found wrong in the movie.
Udta Punjab is one of the most brilliant films made this year and is a must watch not just for the performance of actors that will blow your head or its compelling, breath-taking and stunning narration but to say NO against pathetic dictators sitting on the Central Board of Film Certification. Go, protest and watch the flick that will educate you. Say No to censorship and dictatorship.
First thing first, what makes Udta Punjab a gripping film? It’s an endless war against drugs wrecking havoc and consuming the youth in their prime. The young minds can bring change in a society in their revolutionary thought against dominance of the mighty and powerful who will crush everyone to death. Udta Punjab sends a strong message against drugs that ravages our society like the cancer cells sucking blood. It’s a thinking film. It’s dark, compelling and griping. Udta Punjab is all about separate lives interconnected to each other.
Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapur), is a fading rock star and when he is not mouthing expletives, he is always high on substance abuse. A girl with aspirations to become a national Hockey player runs away from home in Uttar Pradesh and ends up working in green field but is consumed by substance and exploiters. Dr Prit Sahani (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a doctor and social crusader against drugs and a cop Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) who lacks the clout to wage war against the system.
The grass is always greener but dark when we look at the other side. Alia’s character echoes the darker reality of life in the state of Punjab caught between the devil and the deep bluesea. It’s a mammoth task to make a film like Udta Punjab, showcasing the microscopic grim reality of life where we are cushioned and nestled in our own worldly comfort. Director Abhishek Chaubey does that with aplomb and the tight screenplay-cum-script makes the flick engaging from the word go, tapping into the nuances of the characters, often evoking empathy and at the same time, painting the grim of a life held in ransom by drugs. The narration is compelling and brilliant, holding its might in portraying the attempt to expose the drug mafia.
The biggest USP are the actors, right from Shahid Kapur, who shines be it his look, body language or weird antics as Tommy Singh. It’s a role he never essayed before and pushes himself to the extreme edge. He flits effortless playing the wacky druggie that leaves a mark on the audience. The scene where he tells his audience what they takes as his creativity is pure rubbish by showing his middle finger is a brilliantly delivered and captured scene.
The surprise packet is Alia Bhatt who goes completely de-glam and it’s heart warming to see her play Pinky Kumari, a migrant caught in drug abuse. She leaves you speechless and she is simply stunning delivering her flawless lines in Bihari accent. Be it her body language, emotions or dialogue delivery, Alia explodes on the screen and her one liners are hilarious. There is more to her as an actor and she shows her power with sheer brilliance.
Kareena Kapoor Khan who plays a doctor doggedly determined to expose the drug racket is excellent but what works against her is the fact that she is a charismatic star. It’s something that comes in between and dilutes her performance. Debutant actor Diljit Dosanjh is first-rate, so is Satish Kaushik adding his own flavor to this brilliant movie.
Udta Punjab is not without its share of light moments that has been effortlessly done. Alia Bhatt’s delivery of lines in Bhojpuri is a show-stealer. The epic ones, ‘To hum ka rah bhool ke aayo, hamar suna toh Ghaniya phad jayegi’ or Satish Kaushik as Tayaji, says with utmost ease, ‘Puttar, Honda Hai. Cocaine Chaddo To Withdrawal Symptom Hote Hain.’ Shahid inked Gabru in his self-claimed brand new avatar makes it something to drool and die for.
The scenes in the movie are compelling and stands tall. The instance, where Tommy Singh speaks to his own reflection inside the toilet seat or throwing away the drug packet leaves a powerful impact. The first interaction between Shahid Kapur and Alia Bhatt where she beats up the hoodlums, crying her lungs out how she will never give up has a uniquely raw intensity. It makes us sit and watch. Speechless!
Udta Punjab is a film that hinges on parallel lives that can somehow make the audience lose the flow of this otherwise gripping story. One can sense a celluloid void in the movie sequences. It should have been tightened. The pace does suffer in the start of the second half that doesn’t match the terrific start which is one of the minus point. However, there are also criticism on the use of Punjabi throughout the film but it rather adds to the film’s flavor.
On the whole, Udta Punjab is anti-drugs and a compelling film that breathes life from start-to-finish. The cuss words, done with a Punjabi accent gels with the story flow, the compelling and heart pounding narration. Of course, the audience beams with laughter when Tommy Singh mouths in style, ‘Nobody fires Tommy Singh…Babe you’ve reached your expiry date’ and the female character replies, ‘So are you.’
Go and watch Udta Punjab. It’s gruesome, a film noir tackling a serious scourge where it’s star cast deliver a bold performance. In the end, the fight against the ridiculous cuts are worth the effort and kudos to Anurag Kashyap for standing up for the movie. It is one of the most brilliant and outstanding movies made in recent years. Both Shahid and Alia deliver award-winning performances in this honest effort bearing the foot mark of Abhishek Chaubey and the film deserve awards. Of course, the title song has a soulful delivery. Truly, Drug di Maa di!