Udta Punjab is undoubtedly the most talked about Indian film this year, sadly for the wrong reasons. The film was not given a censor certificate and finally saw the light of the day thanks to the court order. Amidst this though, the intention of the film somehow did not project itself during the period of controversy. However, the film has released now and one can surely say that not only the intentions are good, but even the end product hits you where it should.
The movie is basically about four individuals of Punjab whose life is embroiled in drugs, either directly or indirectly. Punjab and Drugs form the crux of the film, showing how the law and order themeselves don’t want the issue to be solved. It was really disappointing on the part of the censorboard to claim that Udta Punjab shows the state in bad light. It is a very well known fact that the issue of drug addiction is a major thing there and this movie tries to bring the issue forward in the most hard-hitting and brutal way to make an impact. It tries to make us know what drugs can do to an individual and to the people around him.
Udta Punjab succeeds on many fronts. The realistic approach to the rustic Punjab makes the experience even more impactful. One of the best things about the film is the casting. Every actor, big or small, leaves a mark. Shahid Kapoor plays the drug-addict over-the-top pop star with aplomb and with the necessary madness. Kareena Khan is restrained and finally chooses a role which justifies her talent. Diljit is already a huge star in Punjab, and his Bollywood debut is rock-solid as a cop stuck between the system and his drug-addict younger brother. However, the biggest impact is made by Alia Bhatt. The girl is not even 23, but she is way way ahead than any of her female counterparts. Her Bihari lingo is not perfect, but her scenes are so powerful that you forget about anything else being shown on-screen!
For a movie based on drugs, the cinematography is the most crucial part along with the background score. And this is another area where the movie scores. Rajeev Ravi, who made Gangs Of Wasseypur and DevD a visually stunning experience with his camerawork, doesn’t disappoint here either. Amit Trivedi nails it with his trippy soundtrack.
There are a few loopholes in the screenplay, especially in the second half. Despite a few flaws, the film succeeds in making an impact against drug addiction. This movie is a milestone for not only taking on the censorboard successfully but also for pointing a finger at an important social issue. Kudos to the director Abhishek Chaubey, Anurag Kashyap and ALT films for making this film and fighting for it.
Udta Punjab is a difficult film to watch, but you have to watch it for the issue it raises in the perfect way. Hard-hitting, entertaining. well-acted and trippy. It is no Requeim For A Dream or Traffic, but it surely has its heart in the right place. AND PLEASE, WATCH IT IN THEATRES!