UDTA PUNJAB – Movie Review

Director Abhishek Chaubey‘s ‘Udta Punjab’ speaks aloud about the drug-addictive culture and the drug-induced lifestyle of today’s Punjab. It tells how omnipresent and cheaply available the drugs are and about the dreadful position of the Punjab youths. In simple, as stated by the film’s characters, ‘Udta Punjab’ is a war against drug in Punjab; in other words, a war between the addicts and the drug!

Abhishek Chaubey takes forward the film in a multi-narration style with 4 primary characters. Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a popular pop star who is highly addicted to drugs and makes songs on alcoholism. A Farm worker (Alia Bhatt) who gets loads of cocaine in her hand by luck, using which she tries to make some fortune but lands in a serious trouble. Dr.Preet (Kareena Kapoor), a doctor who runs a drug rehabilitation center. Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), a policeman who knows about the drug mafia but does nothing about it unless it hits his family. Other than these primary characters, the film takes Punjab and Drugs also as one of its characters.

First things, first! Abhishek Chaubey must be highly appreciated and indeed celebrated for making a film that speaks about a very important issue and threat in Punjab and few other states in India; it is so apparently visible that the director’s team has done a lot of research on the drug topic and how the consignments are moved in. He has made this film so uncompromisingly, but still in a way that it hits our audience rightly. Hats off to the makers of this film Abhishek Chaubey, Anurag Kashyap, Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor and Vikramaditya Motwane! It was also said that Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Kareena Kapoor halved their salaries for this project, which is a great thing that any actor could do. Anyone who watches the film would wonder why did the Censor board gave around 90 cuts for such a film! Why did the CBFC board did not want the people to watch a film that shows the scary reality of drug abuse in Punjab and its harsh effects so insightfully.

Right from the very first scene, the director keeps on impressing us where a drug dealer team uses a discus thrower to throw a drug packet across the border. There are too many brilliant scenes all-through the film that either helps in character establishment / conflicts or progressing the film. Say the scene where Tommy Singh overconsumes drugs and is speaking to Gabru, the scene where Tommy meets two of his fans in jail and the scene where he shoots his uncle that leads to his thought of quitting drugs, the extra-ordinary scene where Alia emotes her feelings to Tommy and so on. By the visuals that are shown when Alia is in drugs and that she says about the ‘Goa’ poster, we are able to feel her hell pain strikingly; in fact, the way she is ruined will definitely leave a dismaying impact on the viewer for a couple of days! In contrary, the film’s end shot is a gem where Alia dives into the sea (similar to the shot when she was in hell). The writing has been so impeccable, except for a few boring moments that involves Preet and Sarjat, especially the romance portion.

Casting and the technical excellence has been the biggest asset of ‘Udta Punjab’. With no second thought, Alia Bhatt has been the show-stealer of ‘Udta Punjab’. She has gotten into the skin of the character that you cannot find any difference at all; it is her acting that makes us feel the character’s pain. Undoubtedly, Alia Bhatt is turning out to be a very promising young actress of this generation, after her outstanding performances in ‘Highway’ and few other films. Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh / Gabru is convincing and believable as the drug-addicted pop star; he is perfect on his part with terrific performance in a number of scenes. Kareena Kapoor’s role is not something great, but she has done her best in what has been offered to her. Diljit Dosanjh does a fabulous job as the Assistant Inspector. Music by Amit Trivedi is so value-adding to the script where even the song lyrics are very much intertwined to the plot and characters.

On the whole, ‘Udta Punjab’ is one of the best Bollywood films of 2016 that deserves a watch at theatre. Not to be missed!

Rating: 4.25/5

Review by: Rahman

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