'Udta Punjab' is Brutally Honest!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark
Udta Punjab depicts two kinds of battle: one with the external forces that cripples a society and two with self by the drug addicts to break the shackle of drug addiction. The beauty of Udta Punjab’ is that it doesn’t have a lead pair; the main protagonist of the film is the menacing ‘Drugs and its Addiction”.
The film opens depicting a windy night and three scooter-borne youths riding through the darkness of a dusty road that cut through lush green fields amidst tall swaying trees on either side of it. And one of them tries to ape like an Olympic-level shot putter to heave a packet of drugs neatly packed like a disc to land at a far distant field on the other side of the border (Punjab). And what appears on the packet midair is the title ‘Udta Punjab’.
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Punjab a land of five rivers is high and dry because of the unholy nexus between the drug lords, politicians and the police. Tommy Singh Aka Gabru (Shahid Kapoor) a rockstar by chance is high on drugs and becomes an overnight sensation. His songs and lyrics are a concoction of ‘coke and cock’ that pulsate in the dim lights of popular pubs and concerts keeping the youths equally high grooving whole night. He is a youth icon and his fans ape him. Tommy’s rise and fall is heartrending to watch and Tommy’s statement to his fans - “Do you want to see the real Tommy not the Gabru then look here I am ‘Tommy the Fuddu (Moron)’. I sang and composed songs on drugs and you made it your life’s philosophy. You are a bigger Fuddu than me” - shows the inner battle of an already beleaguered rockstar. Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh has given an outstanding performance. His histrionics as a rockstar high on drugs and his vulnerabilities are well essayed by him.
Along with Tommy Singh there are three other characters that add momentum to the plot of Udta Punjab and they are - a Bihari labourer played by Alia Bhatt, Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor Khan) a specialist who works in a de-addiction centre as well as an anti-drug crusader and a transformed corrupt cop Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh).
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Diljit Dosanjh who is a huge star in Punjabi movies and also an acclaimed singer and television Presenter has won the hearts of the viewers as a repenting corrupt cop who wants to make up for his lapses as a family man. He and Kareena Kapoor Khan as Dr. Preet have pulled off their act successfully. Her inquisitiveness as an anti-drug crusader - who sees death and trauma of both the addicts and their family members daily - to dig out the source of drugs in the state and to unmask the custodians of law and politics in front of the public is quite commendable.
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The showstopper in Udta Punjab is Alia Bhatt as the nameless Bihari migrant labourer wielding a hockey. Though she tries hard to pick up the right accent of a Bihari she is remarkable in her deglamorized look and her mannerisms to authenticate the role she plays are well enacted. Her journey from the ‘Student of the Year’ to this role of a migrant labourer in Udta Punjab tells us that there is much more about Alia as an actor to be explored. Her role in the film ‘Highway’ and now in Udta Punjab shall be marked as one among many other landmarks as an actor in her profile.
Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab is definitely more real and less reel. He is successful in his story telling with flair in depicting well etched characters to tell the hard and painful reality of a society. It is worth a watch after all the hullabaloo about defaming a state and all. Udta Punjab doesn’t defame Punjab rather it brings back the focus on it and its glorious past and its contribution as a state to the country’s agrarian growth and economic stability.
Udta Punjab is a wakeup call for all of us to proactively participate in the crusade against drugs and the perpetrators. It’s worth appreciating the grit and guts of the team of Udta Punjab who knocked the doors of the judiciary to get the movie released on time with bare minimal cuts. The kind of mass support from prominent personalities in the industry as well as people across the country is commendable. Therefore, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Udta Punjab is not only a movie that highlights the drug menace but is also an example for the right of freedom of expression. It’s high time that we learn from history that the people at the power centres may be successful partially in silencing individuals but not a nation. So go and watch Udta Punjab not for its reasons it had to be in the news but for its hard hitting story.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating:3.75/5
Cast: Shahid Kapoor (Tommy Singh), Alia Bhatt (Bihari migrant Labourer), Kareena Kapoor Khan (Dr. Preet Sahni), Diljit Dosanjh (Sartaj Singh), Satish Kaushik (uncle of Tommy Singh), Prabhjyot Singh (Bali)
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aman Gill, Sameer Nair
Written by: Sudip Sharma (Dialogues)
Screenplay: Sudip Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey
Story: Sudip Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey
Music by: Original Songs by Amit Trivedi
Background Score: Benedict Taylor, Naren Chandavarkar
Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi
Edited by: Meghna Sen
Production: Balaji Motion Pictures, Phantom films
Distributor: Balaji Motion Pictures
Release Date: 17th June, 2016
Duration: 149 Minutes