19 June 2016 | Swapnilagarwal
This Punjab does go heights!!
Till date, Bollywood has mostly showcased Punjab as land of prosperity full of dancing farmers in fields and big time foodies relishing sarson DA sag & makke Di roti. Intermittently some makers did show the issue of militancy phase of 80s in films like Maachis. However, this land of green-fields has off late been trapped tight in clutches of narcotics. On such a dry topic, perhaps only some documentaries would be made/ already made. To bring this issue on silver screen with mainstream actors while balancing entertainment value and remaining uncompromising on the authenticity of subject and premises, requires a lot of research work and intelligence from director and production team. Full marks to director Abhishek Chaubey and producers Anurag Kashyap (who fought the valid legal battle with censor board) and Balaji Telefilms, for raising cinematic benchmark of film-making and bringing to notice of the nation and world, the other face of Punjab through Udta Punjab. Thanks to this movie, since its controversial phase with CBFC, there have been innumerable articles on this issue across media informing we, the people of India, about the ongoing menace in Punjab. Hope, the movie manages to wake up those in power!
My analysis of various facets as below:
Plot: Yes, Punjab is nose dipped in the dark world of drugs and is almost on the verge of becoming another Mexico. The movie manages to touch the right chord in terms of characterization, casting, premises and most importantly, story-line. 3 sets of stories woven around perils of drugs run in parallel only to converge before/ at climax. The movie wins as it manages to prove that drugs have gripped all classes – low/ middle/ high with equal jeopardy. While showcasing modus-operandi of this fatal trade, the film questions the irresponsible and corrupt practices of administration and politics alike. The movie is full of cuss-words which do not look out-of-place and add to the genuineness of this North-Indian region. Despite having 2 pairs, the movie is subtle yet graceful on romantic front.
Cast: Shahid Kapoor has already proved his mettle in psycho- emotional roles in movies like Kaminey & Haider. As Tommy Singh, the gabru rap-star, he only raises the bar a notch higher exuding full- on madness mixed with the sensitive and remorseful side of the character. However, it is Alia Bhatt for me, who emerges as the biggest surprise, gracing the role of a Bihari migrant labourer. She literally wears the unnamed character on her sleeves, not only through diction of that perfect dialect but more through the immaculate body-language oozing terrific vulnerability, angst and strength of her character. Highway is history now; this girl will be known by Udta Punjab in future! Kareena Kapoor Khan does full justice to her comparatively shorter role as a sensible doctor while giving a glimpse of a Geet intermittently. Debutant Punjabi superstar Diljeet lives up to his name winning hearts with his sincere performance changing gears from a corrupt official to a man with a purpose. Young actor Prabhjyot Singh impresses a lot as drug- addict brother of Diljeet. Rest of the cast is as realistic as the film.
Music: Generally, movies on such serious topics do not require songs. However, since this one involved a music celebrity, rap songs were inevitable while a couple of others with that touch of Punjab Di mitti are heart-warming and do not disturb the pace of the film. Amit Trivedi wins it this time too!
Cinematography: The movie, as the name suggests, is based in Punjab, the real one residing in small towns and districts. Rajeev Ravi leaves no stone unturned in adding maximum realism to the canvas of the film.
Flaws: Some people might find the climax a bit filmy (fictional). However, that is perhaps required to end the film on a positive note, which I definitely liked.
In all, Udta Punjab is definitely going to be one of the best films of this year in terms of the production quality, content, performances and music. Must watch, I must say!