You’ve probably not seen a movie like Udta Punjab in a long long time. Good movies have come up recently, like Airlift, Neerja, Nil Battey Sannata, among others, but Udta Punjab is on a different level altogether. It takes you a notch higher (literally). What moves you the most in this movie is the fact that it is the ‘bare truth’, if I may put it that way, and that is what the Censor Board didn’t want us to know.
Title: Udta Punjab
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aman Gill, Vikas Bahl and Sameer Nair
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt
Production Company: Balaji Motion Pictures and Phantom Films
Release date: 17th June, 2016
Genre: Drama? (Maybe?)
I really don’t understand what in the movie was worth cutting (according to the Censor Board). Like really, what? The TRUTH? Because that is what the movie has. There is no defaming of Punjab, no promotion of drugs, and nothing negative. There is just the truth, that the CBFC didn’t want us to know. I don’t know why! A huge shout out to the Bombay HC. Thank you, for making this beautiful piece of cinema to reach us.
Over to the story, I think it was everything perfect. I was speechless when I came out of the theater. It genuinely is that good. The coarse screenplay, emphasized direction and the breathtaking story, are all great. But what touches you the most are the characters, or, should I rather call them people? Because that is what Shahid, Kareena, Diljit and Alia play. They are every other person in Punjab. They are like us, like everybody.
As I came out of the theater, along with my friends, I could listen to people talking about the film. Everyone ranked the actors, one after another, and almost everyone had the same ranking order, with Alia leading the others. But, personally, I feel that it wasn’t just Alia’s film. It was as much as Shahid’s, or Kareena’s or Diljit’s. yes, Alia has done a superb job, but the others have given amazing performances too. No one lacks behind. As I have already said, Udta Punjab is an amalgamation of talent, a beautiful amalgamation.
Shahid Kapoor, as Tommy Singh GABRU is tremendous. His performance is at par with his stint in Haider. It is that beautiful. It is difficult to describe, in words, his prowess. He is beyond perfect. The character of Tommy is so complex, but at the same time, solved. It is decorated with long hair and tattoos, but yet, is so plain. And Shahid brings life to Tommy. You would want to sing with him, dance to his songs, sit and listen to him when he talks and then, eventually, hug him.
Alia Bhatt plays a Bihari migrant, who has come to Punjab to work in the fields. She hasn’t smoked a cigarette in her life, but when she is kidnapped and kept hostage for throwing away drugs, she is turned into a heroin addict. She goes into trance and then sees a poster that talks of a holiday in Goa. She imagines herself in the sea, floating, swimming; free. You can see her shouting, in various frames in an accent that she nails. All through the movie, she wears just one pair of clothes and has no make up on. But she shines a lot. She stands out. Her love for hockey is beautiful. There is a scene, where she is fighting against the’bad boys’ and she hits them with a hockey stick. She then treats a stone as a ball, and hits it directly in a man’s face. You can see the player in her eyes. You know that she will get her aim.
Diljit Dosanjh, as Sartaj, a cop who is easily bribed is again, the truth. He takes bribes, along with the other cops at a ‘naka’, which depicts the harsh reality of not only Punjab, but the whole of India. But then, his own brother is dragged into drug abuse and he meets Kareena Kapoor Khan, and learns that whatever he is doing is wrong. He tries to undo the wrong and with what grace. I really don’t think that he could have had a better debut in Bollywood. The best element in his character is that it is naive. Nothing hits him straightforwardly. Everything has to be explained to him, which is a positive trait, and it works very well for the movie. Again, he is naive, but not dumb.
Kareena Kapoor Khan as Dr Preet Sahani is tremendously honest. She is the prime source of sunshine in this movie. She knows the problem and has a solution to it. She doesn’t sympathize with the youth of Punjab. She feels them. She feels their problems. She shows love, concern, rather than sympathy. But what stands out in her character is her honesty, other than anything else. She is brutally honest. The shrill in her voice when she shouts at Diljit, concern in it when she talks to Balli, and love when Diljit is under the influence of drugs and when she asks her out for coffee are all beautiful. She rocks the Punjabi avatar. I wouldn’t say that I haven’t seen Kareena in such a role earlier because Preet is everything Geet, just more responsible. So, you know you’ve met Preet before, just in a different time, at a different age. Yet, she brings magic to this character. And, oh, she is so beautiful! She just has some sets of salwar-kameez, some sweaters and no make-up and she is, yet, a treat to look at.
What also catches your attention is the chemistry between the two pairs, Shahid-Alia and Diljit-Kareena. There is no ‘I love you’ in the movie, but there are subtle eye contacts, some even subtler touches, and of course, a date at CCD, which never happens, because…(no spoilers). There is a moment in the movie where Kareena and Diljit are sitting on a bed, and you just think, ‘what a beautiful frame!!!!!!!!’
The music, by Amit Trivedi is at par with the script and the acting. It is subtle and yet so much on point. Ikk Kudi just won my heart away.
The end, I would say, is marvelous!
All in all, if this movie doesn’t touch you to the core and if you aren’t left speechless, you need to see it again, maybe, even read it between the lines. Go see this movie, not for someone, not just for the sake of it, but just go. See it for yourself. This movie is for you, for the youth, for those who believe in themselves, for those who don’t! This is a fight between addicts and addiction, between use and abuse, between problems and solutions.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Kudos to the entire cast of Udta Punjab and also to the makers, who believed in the script!
Disclaimer: All the above images have been taken from Google. None of them have been created/clicked by me.