RELEASE DATE 17 June 2016
RUN TIME 2Hrs 28 mins
DIRECTOR Abhishek Chaubey
CAST Shahid Kapoor, Kareena kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh, Satish kuashik, Kaizaad Kotwal
Udta Punjab is probably the most controversial film in recent times and that is before it even hit the theatres. After being locked in a bitter censorship row, the drug-themed Bollywood film will hit the screens in India on friday with the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana high court paving the way.
But, The wait ends here. After a long and bitter fight with censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, the makers of ‘Udta Punjab’ blew the bugle of triumph to celebrate the victory of freedom of expression over censorship. The Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh and Alia Bhattstarrer has released today.
Story: Four parallel tracks, that of a Punjabi rockstar, Tommy Singh (Shahid) a Bihari migrant, Kumari Pinky (Alia); a Sikh cop, Sartaj (Dilj it) and a doctor, Preet (Kareena) address the insurgence of the drug menace in Punjab. Their lives are sometimes linked to one another but usually not.
Review: Welcome to Chaubey's Punjab; a world you may not inhabit, but cannot ignore. As notorious as Mexico in the current context, the state that is known for wrestlers and wheat, serves up heroin, opium, cocaine faster than parathas and lassis. Yes, Punjab the land of the five rivers, is a description only reserved for the text-books. In reality, it's a place besieged by cartels, cocaine and corrupt cops.
The films opens with a discus thrower from across the border flinging a packet into a jungle in Punjab in the dead of the night. The pink powder lands in the lap of the Bihari hockey player who works in the fields. And so begins her tryst with the contraband.
Cut to the tattooed-gun-toting world of Tommy. He's a role model for the youth. Unfortunately he's also a junkie masquerading as an Alpha male, who can only make music when he is 'coked up' to his eyeballs.
Then there is Inspector Sartaj and his superior (Manav Vij) who have no qualms about taking blood money. Sartaj's conscience only stirs when he realises his younger brother, Prabhjyot Singh (Balli) is a victim.
Completing the quartet is the Florence Nightingale doctor who rehabilitates addicts and moonlights as a reporter, hoping her report on narcotics will save the day.
Chaubey uses a part-documentary-part-mainstream approach here. Post interval, the film is sometimes too indulgent and sluggish. Also this is not your sunny-side up cinema. It is stark and makes you cringe. However, its victory lies in making you empathise with its characters. As Alia and Shahid, both victims of drug and physical abuse fight their demons and destinies, you shed a silent tear. Shahid has got his act pat but Alia beats everyone hollow. Kareena and Dilj it are adept. This review also doffs a hat to the nuanced performances of Satish Kaushik, Prabhjyot Singh and Manav Vij.
Important: A lot of the dialogues are in Punjabi but the subtitles help.