Controversies surrounding “Udta Punjab” finally comes to end as the dark-thriller drama releases today with high expectation thanks to the unwanted publicity it received. As the film was on the verge of getting released, I was wondering what led CBFC (Center Board Of Film Certification) to 89 cuts. We have seen films more violent and more brutal than this. Isn’t the subject of “Udta Punjab” required to show the true facts and figures. I must say it was a bold and raw film which should be applauded for its genuine attempt.
“Udta Punjab” is story of 4 people whose lives have been influenced by the drug menace very much evident in the North Indian state of Punjab where it becomes easy money for peddlers selling heroin and opium through the safe hands of politicians.
Director Abhishek Chaubey, previously helmed the well-liked “Ishqiya” and not-so good “Dedh Ishqiya”, took a step forward and created a niche subject never been attempted on Indian cinema before. Hats off to him and definitely to the producer Anurag Kashyap for taking his stand through out the controversies surrounding the film. Now coming to the film, the opening scene caters to the subject of drugs easily being exported from neighboring county (an athlete throws a packet of heroin like a “discus throw”) and falling into our motherland as if some UFO has landed from space. Subsequent scenes introduces the four main protagonist and each character has been defined appropriately. Till the 1st half, you will be completely kept engrossed thanks to the tight screenplay (ofcourse you will wondering why the film was censored).
Second half starts with some promise but goes down the deep rabbit hole and never ever recovers from there. Too much of melodrama and unwanted editing loses the steam built by the engaging first half. The easy access to the drug factory by Diljit Dosanjh and Kareena Kapoor and sneaking out with less effort with out even getting noticed by anyone is indigestible, the human connection between Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt is far stretched and the climax fight scenes are pretty abrupt which dilutes the impact of second half. Nevertheless, the film is a brave attempt and nail-biting moments like Alia Bhatt fighting back from getting injected with drugs, her frustration venting out when she meets Shahid Kapoor after the concert and the chemistry between Diljit Dosanjh and Kareena Kapoor are some of the highlights of the film. The art direction is splendid along with creative cinematography. Background score is good. Music by Amit Trivedi is mindblowing as it further sets the mood of the film. The title track “Udta Punjab” and “Da Da Dasse” is pick of a lot. “Udta Punjab” is definitely a performance oriented film and that is the key element to watch the film. Among the four main protagonist, Alia Bhatt steals the show. The gifted actor is simply superb as Biharan who lands herself as a migrant ( though she is state-level hockey player). Watch out for her when she kills the guy responsible for her messy state by continuously venting out her frustration. Shahid was just about okay in the role that required more intense which was clearly missing. Kareena Kapoor was subtle as Preet. I like her when she plays more simpler characters. Diljit Dosanjh was a good surprise. The Punjabi superstar manages to make an impression inspite of his first Bollywood film.
Overall, “Udta Punjab” is definitely a gritty and dark film which should be appreciated for its solid facts and phenomenal performances. Good 3/5
- Ketan Gupta