Udta Punjab Movie Review: Could Have Flown Higher
After a long-drawn legal battle, Udta Punjab will finally release today. A brutally honest take on rampant drug abuse in Punjab, Udta Punjab was said to be more honest than Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap. But is it as hard-hitting and effective? Let's find out…
Set in Punjab, which is soon turning into Mexico as one character points out, Udta Punjab revolves around four lives- Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a coke-snorting rockstar, whose addiction to nose candy is sure to cause his downfall, Preet Sahani (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a doctor on a mission to end the menace of drug abuse in Punjab, Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), a cop, who earlier turned a blind eye to the flourishing drug trade, but has now decided to fight it when tragedy struck home and a migrant from Bihar (Alia Bhatt), who stumbles on a drug smuggling operation and ends up being an addict.
To give credit to the makers of the film, the film has portrayed Punjab like never before. There are 'sarson ka fields', but drug dealers hide their merchandise in it and there is no 'balle balle' good cheer in the air. The first half of the film goes on to show how the drug trade has held Punjab in its vicious grip and it does succeed in sending a slight chill up your spine.
However, where the film goes wrong is in the second half, as is the issue with most films. For some reason, the makers decide to go the conventional Bollywood route and introduce love in the narrative. In a predictable turn of events, Sartaj and Preet fall in love with each other and Tommy goes cold turkey the day he meets Alia's character and decides to be her knight in shining armour. Really, guys, there was no need to force romantic subplots in a story that was moving ahead on its own steam…
Moreover, the second half stretches on and on and one wishes the makers could have done some sharp editing to keep the narrative in check. Shahid Kapoor has played the quirky Tommy quite well, but he does tend to get carried away at times. However, one cannot deny that it is indeed entertaining to watch his antics. Kareena doesn't lend depth to her character, though she is a good actress and had a role she could have done wonders with. Diljit, who makes his Bollywood debut with this film, impresses with his restrained performance as the cop facing a moral dilemma while Alia Bhatt, who has always played the modern urban girl, simply wows you with her role as the Bihari migrant and comes up with a heart-breaking performance. The supporting actors, like Satish Kaushik and Manav Vij, who plays Sartaj's elder brother, have done great work in their short roles.
Some of the scenes are quite unconvincing-like the way Alia overcomes her withdrawal symptoms in just one night and the way Tommy, a self-absorbed coke addict, rushes off across villages on a bicycle to rescue Alia from the drug mafia gang after just meeting her once. If the makers were keen on making a dark and grim film about how the drug trade is affecting the youth of Punjab, some common sense and logic should have been employed while penning down the second half.
All said and done, Udta Punjab is an entertaining watch, but had the potential to be something more than that.
Release Date : 17 June 2016
Director : Abhishek Chaubey
Genre : Thriller