UDTA PUNJAB (2016)
Critic - No.110
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Casts: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh
Music: Amit Trivedi, Benedict Taylor, Naren Chandavarkar
Genre: Crime Drama
Plot: A story that revolves around drug abuse in the well-off north Indian State of Punjab. The youth there have succumbed to it greatly resulting in a socio-economic decline. Four people from different walks of life get entangled into a mistaken drug dealing that provokes them against the hidden mafia system in Punjab.
‘Udta Punjab’ is an eye opener in many extents where director Chaubey erases our view of the conservative Punjab known for its wheat and wrestlers and welcomes us into an unknown side succumbed to the insurrection of cocaine and heroin (as notorious as Mexico).
‘Udta Punjab’ is not a regular film that takes its time to build the characters and progressively introduce the crux. It’s almost a character study and we as the audience, travel with their addictions, confusions and even redemptions. This majorly keeps away our guessing nerves. It has its bumpy moments with a few love episodes that a film like easily could have easily played down.
From the very starting scene, we see a clear inciting incident of a misplaced drug trafficking that kick starts the entire cat and mouse chase which the four main characters are involved in a direct, indirect and even a rebellious state. From then, we get soaked in the characters’ intense, shocking and sometimes light-hearted journey to eradicate the illegal drug mafia system.
‘Udta Punjab’ has some hard-hitting dialogues that might provoke the patriotic senses of Indians. Packed with so much of dramatic emotional moments, ‘Udta Punjab’ stands clear of any melodrama to affect the rawness of the subject.
Alia Bhatt stands out as the best performer with a remarkable portrayal of a village girl who gets stung by her own greed for money and kidnapped by the drug dealers. The physical transformation and tribulations needed for the character is large and Alia Bhatt pulls off with her immense dedication.
Shahid Kapoor on the other hand shocks us with his bizarre character as a rockstar that Punjab youngsters idolize. Helming the most complex character in the film, he shines with a clear understanding of the character. Kareena Kapoor excels with a matured performance while Diljit makes a noteworthy debut.
‘Udta Punjab’ is a technically sound film, packed with a few visual and audial experimentation. National award winner Amit’s songs gel well into the narration while Benedict and Naren’s BGM brings us into a trippy state at times.
This film is far from glorifying drugs contrary to the controversies. ‘Udta Punjab’ is an example of a well-made commercial film that doesn’t underestimates the intelligence of the audience or hides away to project cringe worthy facts. Chaubey has used the craft of film making to make an impactful social commentary with a tasteful presentation that might stand significant in Global cinema.
‘Udta Punjab’ is a bold film that evokes the urgency and the insurgence of the drug menace in the hidden side of Punjab, that majority of Bollywood cinema shy away from.
CELLULOID METER – 4.5/5: