Udta Punjab helmed by Abhishek Chaubey is a realistic take on prevalent drug menace in Punjab with well etched out characters that are propelled further by bravura performances and eloquent vision making it a must watch. First things first, Indian cinema has always showcased Punjab with lush green mustard fields, large hearted Punjabis and Bhangra. No mainstream filmmaker has shown that the state which was usually high on love, affection has become high on substance abuse. And, this is the most important aspect. Until and unless, you identify and accept the problem, it will be difficult for you to cure it. Several of Punjabi Gabhru (Macho) who were known for their hardworking, jovial nature have reduced down to a pauper because of addiction to drugs. Abhishek and his team have done a thorough research on the subject and have simply nailed it down with Udta Punjab. The film is so hard hitting with so many standout scenes that they leave a lasting impact on you This is perhaps Abhishek's most meaningful film till date. Everyone has been talking about drug issue in Punjab but nobody is aware about the extent or size of it. This film has brought the issue to the forefront. Full marks to Abhishek Chaubey for making this film in such an intelligent manner that it entertains you as well as highlights the issue of drug problem. It's been seldom that Indian filmmakers have been able to capture the authentic milieu of the region including the local lingo where the movie is based and it is this aspect where Udta Punjab scores brownie points. Everything, right from characters to settings to milieu to lingo comes across as so authentic that you forget that you are watching a film and get invested in the proceedings. Right from the first scene where a Pakistani discus player throws across a drug packet across the border to India to the last scene where a numb drug addict Balli with remorse in his eyes is standing, has been masterfully conceived and projected. In fact, the scene where a numb Balli is standing is the perfect ending for this message induced purposeful film but to give audience a breather, Chaubey shows a sort of happy ending with Alia Bhatt on beach of Goa talking to Shahid Kapoor on phone. I belong to Punjab and have seen how the youth have succumbed to drugs in the last two decades with prescription drugs being sold over the counter in chemist shops in black. I could identify and relate with the issues that the movie raises and will whole heartedly recommend others to go and watch out this movie as its a honest attempt to depict the sad state of drug menace in Punjab which has catapulted into a major issue.
The screenplay of the movie has been jointly penned down by Sudip Sharma and Abhishek Chaubey where as the dialogues have been penned down by Sudip Sharma. The writers have ably done a proper intellectual recce and through research of the prevalent situation in Punjab before penning down this script which is evident during on-screen proceedings. Though, its an commercial production with good music, humor, romance being an integral part of it but the screenplay covers the entire spectrum of the drug problem in Punjab- druglords, suffering youngsters and their families, corrupt cops who are in connivance with politicians and above all the pharmaceutical companies in the neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh which supply prescription drugs to Punjab. I doff my hat to the writers for penning down such a detailed and meticulous screenplay that covers all the aspects of drug problem. Each and every character irrespective of its screentime has been properly etched out and serves a purpose in the movie. The screenplay of the movie revolves around four basic characters i.e. a Pop Star Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a Bihari migrant girl (Alia Bhatt), a Doctor and social activist (Kareena Kapoor), a cynical Cop Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh). I will not like to reveal the storyline of the movie as i want you to go and watch the movie at a theater near you. Instead of storyline, I would like to highlight some of the brilliant standout scenes in the movie. Alia Bhatt incidentally discovers a packet of drugs and tries to sell it in lure of money. But, when her life gets threatened in the process, she realizes the grave mistake she was about to commit by becoming a medium of drug trafficking, she takes instant decision to destroy the drugs instead of hiding it. It shows that there are two types of demons associated with drugs. Ones who consume it and others who sell for the sake of quick money. There's another scene where the Pop Star Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) who sings rap songs promoting drugs is put behind bars as he himself is a substance addict. While in the lock-up , he meets couple of youngsters who are his die-hard fans and took to drugs after listening to his songs. The biggest irony is that those youngsters have been arrested because they killed their own mother when she refused to give them money for drugs. This scene depicts the vulnerability of young minds who get carried away by actions of their idols.
Shahid Kapoor has once again come up with a brilliant performance as Tommy Singh. It is definitely one of the craziest characters that he has portrayed till date. As a drug user and Popstar, he fights his own demons with aplomb in the movie. He has perfectly depicted the madness propelled by substance abuse especially in the scene where he opens fire at his manager. He is par excellence in the scene where he narrates the story of his life to live audience during a concert referring to himself and others following him as Fuddu. This scene depicts that today's young generation end up celebrating or glamorizing fools just for the sake of being cool without understanding the essence.
Diljit Dosanjh could not have asked for a better launch pad in Bollywood other than Udta Punjab. Diljit is quite endearing as well as earnest as the reformed cop in the movie. He literally puts life into the character of Sartaj Singh, the cop who wants to wage a war against drug traffickers with his acting prowess. Diljit's character gave him a opportunity to display gamut of emotions in the movie which he has done to pitch perfection. A cop who is addicted to easy money gets shock of his life when he finds his younger brother hooked on to drugs. His romantic interludes with Kareena Kapoor especially asking for a coffee date lend some lighter moments to the movie.
Alia Bhatt might have been trolled on social media but her choice of roles are proving that she is one of the smartest, fastest learning and intelligent actress among today's generation. It's no mean task to portray a deglamorised character of a Bihari migrant girl who is forced into the world of drugs but to her credit, Alia Bhatt has portrayed the character seamlessly. She has portrayed the infections of now-victim, now-fighter complexity with such deftness that you can't help praising her. Above all, Alia is masterly in the scene where she narrates story of her life and agonies to Shahid.
Kareena Kapoor Khan plays the role of a doctor who also runs a rehabilitation center with effortless ease. Her character in the movie is on a mission to save the young youth of Punjab from the drug menace and she literally walks the talk in the movie, with her performance.
Manav Vij delivers an outstanding act as Jujhar Singh. Manav's act as the corrupt cop especially his body language and dialect is so convincing that you can relate him with any of the cops you have seen in Punjab.
Satish Kaushik is delightful as manager plus uncle of Tommy Singh and adds to the fun quotient of the movie.
The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Amit Trivedi is outstanding. On top of it, most of the songs play at opportune time propelling the movie further. A special mention of Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray for their effective contribution in the field of Production Designing. The cinematographer of the movie is Rajeev Ravi who has done an exemplary job. The way he has captured the raw, rustic milieu of Punjab through roving eye of his lens is brilliant. Also, his choice of color palettes as per the requirement of the scenes is praiseworthy. The movie has been edited by Megha Sen who has done a commendable job at the editing table. As a writer-director, Abhishek Chaubey has done an outstanding job of highlighting a real problem that Punjab is facing. With his eloquent vision, Chaubey has shown the menace that drugs can pose to individuals and society. The best part is that he has crafted the film in realistic setting, capturing the rustic flavor of Punjab and dealt with a real problem that the state is facing. Full credit to Chaubey for raking up this issue and make an interesting film about it. The clever way in which Abhishek Chaubey has concocted this tale and intersected the worlds of its four principle characters is applause worthy.
Punjab, known as the land of five rivers which earlier battled with terrorism is now battling with narco-terror. Udta Punjab is a must watch because it shows the new aspects that have plagued the state which is known for its green revolution. Though, some vested interests tried to sabotage the movie by leaking it online, yet the movie has opened to packed houses with audience thronging to theaters for watching it. It's a big win for Anurag Kashyap, Abhishek Chaubey, his team and the audience who have given a deliberate and strong thumbs down to piracy.
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