Even if you dont like "Udta Punjab", you have to agree that it's a very brave on the part of Bollywood- there is nothing more bold than mainstream Bollywood, which has staged frothy romantic-comedy classics like 'DDLJ' and 'Jab We Met', tackling a Punjab that survives on heroin, drug use and faces the problem of youths suffering drug addiction. Abhishek Chaubey obviously doesn't deliver the issue with heavy hand: he has already proved his distinctive storytelling style in his 'Ishqiya' and 'Dedh Ishqiya'. But this is easily his biggest film: with a mainstream star cast, uncanny romantic trappings and many screens, and hence his most ambitious piece of filmmaking.
The performances are truly what elevates the experience: Shahid Kapoor as the drug-propagating rap star is a hoot, but the actor still feels short of the character because sometimes it feels a repetition of 'Haider' and 'Kaminey'. But that's more than made up by a spectacular Alia Bhatt, who easily delivers this film's most arresting performance. It was hard not to be moved when she described her struggles and her story to Shahid's Tommy. Kareena Kapoor as the anti-drug activist doctor is wonderfully vulnerable, and it's easy to be impressed by her conviction. But the film's driving force is the debut actor Diljeet Dosanjh, who absolutely lives up to his name. His sweet police officer won my heart too too easily.
The writing is also solid: the dialogue is rightly in more Punjabi, more than you'd expect. It's way more... passé than you'd think it is. Like it's a Punjabi film. But truly it's the heart invested in the premise, and the flair to make it a fairly complex study of people and places, that makes it a Bollywood film in an absolutely truest sense of word. Abhishek Chaubey crafts his most deliciously effortless film here: as he crafts the first film which is beyond a familiar atmosphere he had created, he does an excellent job. So terrific, you'd not easily spot a flaw. But the film is ultimately affected by the curse of characterization: because the truth is that the film isn't as technically astounding as you'd think such a film to be, take the characters out and what you'll be left with is the message, and the characters aren't fleshed out enough.
But despite these flaws there's too much to particularly enjoy. It is never less than entertaining. It's unnnerving how the film, despite making biting conversations about the political panorama in Punjab- doesn't quiet make a political comment. It presents you the hard reality of the drug addiction of the youths in the state and haunts you with it's viscerally uncomfortable visuals. It's actually a relatable film, so you could easily forgive that.
It's been a couple of weeks since I got to check out any movie as I was kinda held up with a couple of work commitments. Anywaz when I finally got the time, the decision to watch "Udta Punjab" was quite an easy one thanks to the hysterical attitude of the Censor board which had flooded the news portals since the past few weeks. The trailer blew me off with it's rather distinct flavour & to add to the excitement the controversy that was raging over the unholy nexus that existed between the drug mafia & the politicians in Punjab. So did the antics of the Censor board make sense???
The film unfolds with a packet of heroin being thrown into a field situated across the border by a Pakistani discus thrower. However, even before the packet could be picked up their agent it was whisked off by a Bihari migrant worker (Alia Bhatt). In another part of the state, pop sensation Tommy Singh's (Shahid Kapoor) appeal on the investors wanes as his dependence on drugs makes him a tough client to deal with. The usage of drugs was rampant among the youth as the police which included Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) was hand in glove with the politicians and mafia. But his attitude changes when his brother becomes a victim to this deadly poison & he seeks the help of the doctor, Preeti Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) who also happened to be an activist. It is a fact that nothing could be benefited with the use of narcotics and how this shapes the life of these four characters forms the crux of the movie.
If one has followed the track record of Abhishek Chaubey, it provides ample evidence about his ability to be part of impressive projects right from his assistant directorial days to his previous venture "Dedh Ishqiya". As expected his latest venture is a hard hitting realistic movie scripted by himself & Sudip Sharma, which doesn't hesitate to proclaim that we have a flawed system in place which needs to be rectified before it is too late. However,the film does stretch a tad too long which Meghna Sen ought to have taken note of & some sequences seemed rather vague in detail. Amit Trivedi has done a fine job with the music along with the BGM by Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar while Rajeev Ravi's frames were satisfactory.
There is no doubt that the movie had a meaty story-line but it had to be well enacted to produce the desired effect & that's exactly what all the main characters have done. Alia Bhatt was the pick among the lot as she was outstanding to say the least with her myriad of expressions. Diljit said to be a popular Punjabi star (though I have never seen his work), was impressive with his effective portrayal of the cop. Shahid Kapoor was brilliant for most parts as the pop sensation & his character's appearance reminded me of Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages". Last but not the least, Kareena has also done justice to her role which wasnt as complex as the others but still delightful enough. Many of the the other artists, have also given credible performances which imparted authenticity to the movie.
Verdict: Thanks to the Censor board, the film didn't have to invest much into their publicity campaign as the controversy translated into more footfalls. To be frank, I seriously dont understand what was the big deal about all this hungama as it wasnt as bad as it was portrayed to be. Whatever might be the justification of the censor team, I would suggest not to miss out on this as it provides a fleeting glimpse as to how our system itself is facilitating the drug mafia to flourish!!!
This movie comes with something new.. unlike, traditional movies Udta Panjab exploited the serious and contemporary issue of drug addiction through beautiful storyline.. Good direction. Shahid played his role of a mad or drug addict musician, it was perfect.I didn't expect Alia Bhat what she did in the movie.. she is different, well, I must say she performed better than her own. Good film. Must watch.