After days of controversies and debates on censorship, Udta Punjab finally hit the theatres yesterday. I was indeed worried whether the movie would be able to live up to all the expectations surrounding it, more so when all the eye-balls are on it. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.
The film begins in the most epic way with a packet of drugs being thrown like a discus and while it is in the air, comes the title on it – Udta Punjab.
Only if you are living under a rock would you not know by now that the film revolves around the issue of drug abuse in Punjab. After watching the film you would know that it had indeed gotten into trouble because of its distinct portrayal of the involvement of police and politicians in the drug smuggling (forthcoming Punjab elections being a major reason).
A fantastic and tight script drove the film. The cop Sartaj played by Diljit Dosanjh is the corrupt yet righteous (later) man who is a sycophant of his senior official. They both discuss about Punjab being similar to Mexico in their introduction scene but shut their eyes and ears after they get their share of the bribe. It is only when Sartaj’s brother gets caught in the menace that he realizes his mistake. Thereon he joins Dr. Preet Sahani (played by Kareena Kapoor) in her crusade against drug abuse.
Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is the quintessential rockstar obsessed with himself who is a drug addict. While Alia Bhatt plays the immigrant from Bihar working in the fields of Punjab, who by a turn of events accidently falls into the trap of drug abuse. These two characters cut across the class divide in the context of drug abuse, showing that drugs is not simply a problem faced by a particular class of people.
Abhishek Chaubey carefully weaves the lives of these characters around the central theme.
WOOS – The performances given by Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh and Diljit Dosanjh as Sartaj are a treat to watch.
But it is Alia Bhatt who steals the show with her stellar performance in the emotionally draining scenes. Hands down, this woman is a brilliant actress! Satish Kaushik, being the veteran that he is, nails the character and the raw and rugged Punjabi personality. Lastly, Prabhjot Singh, who plays Diljit Dosanjh’s brother Balli beautifully delves into his character and breaks our hearts a little when we see him as the hopeless drug addict.
The raw and real approach to the issue and even Punjab is refreshing. For once, the portrayal of Punjab is not simply about the beautiful fields, lassi and ‘balle balle’ but rather addicts lying around with no sense time and space and expletives being used by all characters (whether addicts or not) while beginning and ending their sentences. This is heartbreaking but true!
MEHS – Kareena Kapoor tones down the level of performances on an average. Though her role is that of a goody-good woman but there are no layers in her character. And she herself didn’t add anything to the performance.
The only thing disappointing about Tommy Singh’s character was his rushed transition from being an addict to someone who resists drugs. This made it slightly hard to believe. Although there is a scene where he is in jail and sees two drug addicts, who had killed their mother, singing his songs which establishes the shock value on him of his impact on the younger minds. But I would have loved more scenes showing his rash and brattish self.
The film that was very fast and to-the-point in the first half suddenly turns too dramatic in the second half. They lower the hard hitting streak of the movie somewhere.
VERDICT – This movie NEEDS to be watched. Not just for the brilliant performances, but for the larger issue which is indeed grave. Abhishek Chaubey has given Hindi cinema a powerful and brave film, that should be kept alive in people’s memories and not simply fizz off.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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