Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review of Udta Punjab

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Cast: Shahid Kapoor (Tommy Singh), Kareena Kapoor Khan (Dr. Preet Sahni), Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh (Sartaj Singh), Satish Kaushik (Tayaji), Prabhjyot Singh (Bali)
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aman Gill, Vikas Bahl, Sameer Nair
Production Company: Balaji Motion Pictures, Phantom Films
Distributed by: Balaji Motion Pictures
Story: Sudip Sharma, Abhsihsek Chaubey
Dialogues by: Sudip Sharma
Screenplay by: Sudip Sharma, Abhsihsek Chaubey
Music by: Amit Trivedi; Background score – Benedict Taylor, Naren Chandavarkar
Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi
Edited by: Meghna Sen
Release date: 17th June, 2016
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 28 minutes

Udta Punjab, a film by Abhishek Chaubey, was so much in the news offlate, due to CBFC’s demand for 89 cuts in the film, followed by a legal battle between the producers and CBFC. Finally creativity won and only one cut was demanded by the court and the decision came just 2 days prior to its release. Another fight which the producers have to fight now is against piracy, since, this film has been uploaded on torrent sites by an anonymous person (romoured to be somebody from CBFC). Critics might say that all these controversies have worked in favour of the film, it would certainly attract more viewers. But, what makes this film one of the most relevant watch is that it deals with a very critical issue i.e. drug addiction. Youths in our country are getting prone to drug abuse. Addiction of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is high in our country. The film is brutally honest about what happens when a person becomes an addict, his / her inner struggle to overcome it, failure to detox self, losing what is good within one’s self, getting away from all near and dear ones, going to any extreme to satisfy one’s urge for drugs, even attempting to kill dear ones if they are found resisting drug usage. The film also talks about another major concern, which states like Punjab is facing (Punjab is just a representation of many other states), where drugs are made easily available due to corrupt system – be it politicians or police officers.

The film begins with a ‘Packet’ being thrown to Punjab fields from the other side of the border i.e. Pakistan. The substance reaches wrong hands i.e. in Alia’s hands who is a labourer (originally from Bihar), working in the field. When Alia realizes the cost of the drug, she plans to sell the same so as to get money. Simultaneously, another story of a rockstar Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) unveils, who has become a youth icon with his high-on-drug-performances and weird fast numbers. He sports long hair, lot of tattoos-one of them is ‘Gabru’. He is wild, arrogant and unable to take rejections in the right stride. Third major character of the film is police inspector Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), who does not mind taking bribe to give the clearance to trucks and containers carrying drugs, in fact he represents corrupt system. Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) is fighting in her own best manner possible by treating drug addicts and also taking part in some major protests against menace of drugs.

The best aspect of this film is that the focus is not on characters, but on theme of the film i.e. what these characters are going through due to their addiction or due to society being in the clutches of drug abuse. There is not a single moment where the focus has shifted from the theme of menace of drugs. The intent of the filmmaker is very clear, i.e. to highlight the menace of drugs, narco-politics, corrupt system.

Alia goes through a tough time when she goes to sell opium which she got. What happens when Alia reaches the people to sell the stuff she has? How a young, talented national sensation rockstar Tommy’s downfall happens due to his drug addiction? What situations lead to the transformation of the inspector Sartaj from a corrupt police officer to the one investigating the root of drug supplies in Punjab? How Preet joins hands with Sartaj to fight the system ? How the drugs are made available to the youths? How does narco-politics shape up ? How the channels of manufacturing and distribution of drugs work ? How the medical shops end up selling these illicit drugs ?

As far as the cast and their acting are concerned, all of them have given great performances. Shahid absolutely fits into the character of Tommy. Alia is able to do so much of justice to her grief-stricken yet courageous character. Her name of the character is intentionally not mentioned in this review, which is for you to explore by watching the film. Kareena is also very convincing as Dr. Preet. But the real star of the film (and probably with more screen time than the rest) is Diljit Dosanjh as Inspector Sartaj Singh. In real life, he is a singer, television presenter and has also acted in many successful Punjabi films. His performance in Udta Punjab is excellent.

As far as the dialogues of the film are concerned, abusive words are used, but blended well with the plot, screenplay of the film. Music could have been better. The song ‘Ek kudi jidda naam muhabbat, gum hai gum hai…’ is very nice.

Udta Punjab, a very well made honest film, highlights the inner struggle of the people suffering due to drug addiction and also the sick corrupt system, narco-politics. It is indeed sad to see the film, which brings harsh realities attached with the menace of drugs. 

Rating : 4 / 5 (Very Good)

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