Udta Punjab

After a long long time I was super excited about some movie. The trailer had come out in March and it was a power packed trailer. I simply loved it and must have watched it umpteen times. Meanwhile I also discovered Diljit Dosanjh through it and became his fan by the time the movie released. I do not remember when was the last time I did an advance booking for a movie and watched it the first day itself! I was super excited to watch this one.

Here is my review of the movie:
The movie is about the rampant drug addiction in the state of Punjab. It tells about the current state of affairs as they stand in terms of drugs. The theme is depicted through the lives of four individuals and how they are impacted by drugs in various ways. The film starts with a packet of Heroine being hurled from the other side of the border into India. I did not know before this that smuggling drugs to India was so simple!! And thus follows the arduous journey of Kumari Pinky, Tommy Singh, Sartaj and Dr Preet Sahni who are either too deep in this muck of drug consumption or are trying to fight the drug menace. The subject of the film is that drugs are bad. They do no good, and the film does not deviate from its main message for the most part of it. This film is less of a story and more of a narration through focus on the four lead characters. Honestly before this movie, I was not aware about the problem of drug consumption in Punjab. I am surprised how such a big issue never surfaced in discussions at national level. The film depicts this part too well. A lot of the movie is in Punjabi and that goes very well with the background and subject as well. The entire film is shot in Punjab and that lends a lot of authenticity. The entire subject has been treated very really, the nexus between police and politicians and how they have completely turned a blind eye towards this matter to make their riches is all very well depicted. As I said earlier, the film does not have a great story- it is more of a peep into the lives of the four main characters and their fight against drugs.
Tommy Singh the rockstar has been played by Shahid brilliantly. I guess an actor of the level of Shahid Kapoor can only do justice to Tommy Singh. He is amalgamation of all your Punjabi pop starts put together. He sniffs cocaine, is high all the time, is loud, an exhibitionist and himself unaware of what he is propagating. At a point in the movie he himself confesses how he started making songs on drugs at a young age since that is all that he knew, and how his fans made that the philosophy of their lives. He has portrayed his character brilliantly. From an over confident, full of himself addicted pop singer to a helpless, under confident guy he does justice to the character. He also makes us crack into peals of laughter every time he comes on screen. The entire Tommy Singh saga is very well supported by his “crew” “Gabru da Crew” (as written on their t-shirts). Satish Kaushik, and the guy who plays his cousin have done a brilliant job as well. I loved how they break into expletives at any given opportunity, and it blends so well with the narrative that even though the film has truckloads of them, never do at any place they feel overdone.

Alia Bhat plays a Bihari migrant. She is one gem of an actor. She is actually the highlight of the movie. A district level hockey player she is forced to become a migrant labor in the farms of one of the landlords in Punjab, her life turns upside down when she gets hold of that Heroine packet thrown from across the border. Alia has played the character brilliantly. It is hard to believe that she is so new in the industry. She surpasses all other actors in the movie. Infact her character has also been written brilliantly. Her part is the most edgy. The moment she comes on screen you start rooting for her, you kind of feel protective about the character. It is depressing to see how poor people especially females suffer the drug menace. She is abused and used throughout, but her spirit is still unbreakable till the end. The scenes where she is kept inside a room in a dazed state and is repeatedly raped and given drugs are the most heart wrenching. A scene which stood out for me was an elderly sikh talks to her when she is first kidnapped and addresses her as “puttar” and very politely asks her why she threw crore worth of Heroine, and the way he then leaves her in the room with some men, sends shivers down the spine. The director has really handled the Alia part very very well

However, the same cannot be said for Kareena Kapoor. Hers is the easiest role in the movie, as in without many challenges. She is good, but unfortunately fails to impress amid the other stronger characters. Though I loved her perfect Punjabi/ accent in the movie.

And last but not the least Diljit Dosanjh. I am a HUGE fan of his. I liked him in this movie. He surely is up for many more Hindi movies now. He plays Sartaj who is a corrupt policeman until he discovers that his own brother is a drug addict and then joins Kareena in her crusade against drugs. He is convincing and sincere throughout and does full justice to his character. There is one super cute scene when he wants to say something to Kareena, but gets nervous and leaves his sentence midway and leaves the room just by saying ..”tata”. O my God, he is so cute in that!

So on the positive side, the movie has been able to bring forth the picture in Punjab in a very able manner. I am sure this subject is going to be of much debates and discussions in the upcoming Punjab elections. The movie has been absolutely successful in bringing people’s attention to this issue. Craft wise, the movie deals with the subject with complete honesty, without any cover ups and therefore is quite raw at places, but that is the demand of the subject. How the complete narco business operates with its roots deep down in the system has been etched to perfection. The language and humor sprinkled all throughout adds authenticity to the treatment. The parts which show the fight of the drug users to get out of this habit make you feel so helpless. One can actually feel the turmoil Alia’s character goes through when she vomits and puts a rolled paper in her mouth to curb the addiction. The way young guys have been seen lying around in groups inserting injections after injections, hiding behind dark glasses, you feel sorry for them. It is saddening to see the plight of the people in the state. Another noticeable thing is the ending of the movie. The makers have not gone into providing solution to the problem. They have kept the focus on bringing the actual situation to the limelight and left it at that. No elaborate dialogues, no dramatic scenes to end the movie.

There are some things which could have been done better though. First is the length of the movie. Its not slick enough. There are many scenes which could have been left out. Like the Diljit- Kareena romance. I mean is it necessary that when two single young people meet, there has to be a romantic angle? While their chemistry was quite good, but that track was totally unnecessary. It would have been far mature to show them just as two people fighting against the same thing.
Spoiler Ahead- I did not understand why Kareena’s character had to be killed! I mean that had no impact on the watchers. For a moment I was kind of surprised, is she really dead? Why? And the circumstances in which she dies are also unreal- as she is in/ near a hospital, still no efforts to save her. Then Alia gets kidnapped twice by the same people. This was just not needed. Basically the narrative could have been more streamlined with some parts totally avoided. And lastly- Diljit should have spoken more Punjabi. All the characters speak in Punjabi- throughout most part of the movie. However, Diljit speaks the least Punjabi! Though he does a good job with Hindi as well, but in Punjabi the effect would have been different.

The songs of the movie are just amazing. My favorite is “Hass le nach le..”- sung by Shahid Mallya. Whoever this guy is, he has a golden voice. His version of “Ik Kudi..” is also mind blowing. Amit Trivedi is one killer of a music director. So guys, if you have not watched the movie as yet, please go ahead and watch it to support good cinema.