There was a lot of hype and controvery prior to the release of Udta Punjab. First, lead actress Alia Bhatt got into trouble for portraying a sterotyped Punjabi women. Then the cesnsor board had an issue with language asking for 89 cuts in the movie. Ultimatelty, it was released in India with one cut, and Pakistan didn’t get a chance to see this movie as it didn’t release her till much late.
I finally saw the movie last night and I have to say that it’s been a while since a Bollywood movie blew me away like this one.
Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), plays an energetic rock star whose has no qualms about singing songs that glorify drugs and violence. It is his addiction to cocaine and a subsequent altercation with his boss that lands him in jail. Inside, he encounters two young boys who tell him how much they are influenced by him. It is here that Tommy realizes the kind of influence he has on others, and decides to mend his ways once he is out of jail.
Bauri (Alia Bhatt) is a rural village woman, a labor, who comes in contact with a 3 kilos bag of “powder,” that lands her in trouble. Once her employers find out, they chase her and eventually capture her. They abuse her physically and sexually, forcing drugs into her system. Bauria, eventually manages to escape the house.
Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) is a doctor and an activist, fighting against drug abuse and educating others. She is on a mission to expose the locals who are involved in drug trafficking and selling to the people, ruining their lives.
Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is a local policeman, who’s upright and honest, and often is able to crack down on those smuggling drugs in trucks. It’s when his younger brother is admitted to hospital for drug overdose, when he meets Preet Sahni. Together, they decide to join hands to battle drug abuse.
The movie follows the lives of all these four main characters, who connect and disconnect throughout the movie. These are characters who are on the run. They are restless. They are disturbed. They need some redemption, and some find it, others don’t.
Udta Punjab is not an easy movie to watch for sure. If you can’t handle violence, drugs, swearing, realism, don’t watch it.
Right from the opening scene, when a slew of profanities is uttered, you know you are in for a ride into the world of drug culture in Punjab. There is a lot going on here, and at times it is mind numbing as you try to grasp the movie unfolding before your eyes. Poor men inject drugs into their veins, rich kids are snorting cocaine at a rave, a rock star urinates on the audience in a fit of rage, a character is murdered in the most morbid manner, another is sexually abused; these are people who exist in real life and the movie doesn’t provide any relief or happy ending. Don’t go in thinking that everyone will be one big happy family at the end, singing and dancing around trees.
All four main leads do more than just an excellent job. It takes guts to act out so confidently in roles that forces you to step out of your comfort zone. Alia Bhatt, who recently played a sassy, young, modern woman in Kapoor & Sons, plays against type, with dark make up, looking dirty as ever and speaking Punjabi like a poor laborer would. Shahid Kapoor, also lets go of all his comfort zones, and takes upon himself to play Tommy to the T: right from the swearing, to the madness in his mind to performing on stage, he can’t go wrong.
Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh play their characters rather well. They make sure to keep the audience engaged and involved.
However, it is the climax that stunned me. It’s shot so well, that when the entire scene is played out, it just grabs you from under and shocks and stuns you. You are in shock and woner what just happened. Powerful cinema.
Udta Punjab also sends out a very strong anti drug message. It doesn’t preach or anything, but just shows what happens to those who are addicted to drugs, and it’s not pleasant at all.
Gripping, shocking, gritty and real, Udta Punjab is that anti-thesis movie to the Bollywood masala films, and is a cinematic masterpiece in its own right.
5 out of 5