A daringly ambitious take on the prevailing drug menace in India's land of five rivers - PUNJAB . Balaji Motion Pictures and Phatom's enormously hyped UDTA PUNJAB
directed by Abhishek Chaubey is loaded with quirky, cynical tone, black humour and prized performances.
Ironically, Abhishek Chaubey's movie which has finally kept its date with the audience made minimum sense to us on what was the whole censorship drama all about.
Sadly, the same sentiment for the film might be expressed by the entertainment hungry souls of Bollywood who may find this UDTA PUNJAB flying away from their commonly known believe of PUNJAB being a land of 'sarso ke kheths
' , 'Patiala pegs
', 'dal makhani
', 'tandoori chicken
' and all the loud but clear happiness shown by Bollywood's escapist cinema.
In reality its beyond the capacity of a 'common' man to understand the psyche of a person going through the problems of substance abuse and Abhishek's out of the box take with quirky characters restricts UDTA PUNJAB beyond a certain high.
Writers Sudip Sharma and Abhishek Chaubey intervene the life of four characters - A heroin addict rock star Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor
) whose songs on using has created waves amongst lovers of grass. The once popular youth icon is struggling with his growing addiction for his 'stuff' making him dependent on his drug to perform.
An Assistant Police Inspector Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is aware of the growing menace of drugs in his state but he is controlled by his corrupt senior making him to become a part of the system and turn a blind eye. Sartaj's younger brother a fan of Tommy Singh gets admitted in hospital due to overdose resulting in an eye-opener for Sartaj.
Dr Preet (Kareena Kapoor Khan
) a kind hearted medical expert who is concerned about the growing influence of drugs amongst the younger generation and works both as a doctor and a counselor for suffering addicts.
Sartaj and Dr. Preet come together to fight the tirade and expose the power behind this nuisance.
On the other hand, a Bihari labour - Alia Bhatt
gets her hand full of a heroine packet and in the hurry to make some fast bucks lands herself in the dirty world of drug peddlers.
Rest is how they all fight their battles and come together is told in a moody manner that baffles the audience with his swing in genres from black comedy, to drama, to romance and thrills with unwanted crass words at places and excess of scenes showing people using their substance in close ups.
Abhishek Chaubey moves over the con genre from ISHQIYA series and betters himself as a creator and a thinker. His styling and craftsmanship improves with better use of light especially during indoors and night scenes but in gaining technical finesse, the director compromises on his good quality to entertain which we saw in his desi western spaghetti - ISHQIYA that managed to lure the common audience as well.
Strangely, UDTA PUNJAB offered better opportunity in its premise to motivate the director spread its reach as drugs is a big problem but Abhishek fails to capitalize on it. The self indulgence of black humour and influence of Anurag Kashyap in adding radical quotient is clearly visible.
The romanticisms between Shahid and Alia is completely unconvincing and the black humour inspired ending fails to add the required jolt. The makers try to cover it with a feel good softness just before the end credits but that's not enough.
This makes the movie powered more by the actors then the plot. 'High' on performance as compared to the 'substance'.
Alia Bhatt is a stand out. UDTA PUNJAB takes this actor into more realistic performance territory than usual and the girl excels. She is absolutely brilliant. Spot on dialect and in the scene where she shows her aghast to Shahid, Alia turns into an acting powerhouse is top notch.
Popular Punjabi singer and actor Diljit Dosanjh makes an endearing Bollywood debut and does a smart act.
Kareena Kapoor Khan in de glam role is fabulous, her character successfully swifts the gear of the film.
Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh starts with a bang but later the character fails to get the required nuances making him more comic and less eccentric at times though the energy is flawless throughout.
The title song is peppy and the song that glorify the use of drugs will cringe those who are unaware that rockstars, pop stars, rap artiste etc are doing this since long even bollywood has done it RD's 'Dum Maro Dum
' by Asha Bhosle still remains to be an anthem.
All said and done, UDTA PUNJAB is certainly bold, highlights a critical issue and is powered by prize acts, though it makes the 'thinking' audience show a sign of concern, it fails to make the 'aam junta' react the way they should have. But for those who look for something out of the box, dark, with a 'kick' of realisms, UDTA PUNJAB is your shot. Take it.