The Bombay high court really did us a favour by allowing ‘udta Punjab’ to be released without too many cuts as the film is really worth watching. It is hard not to be affected by the performances and it is doubly hard not to be affected by the film.
It is about the lives of four different persons (two male and two female) who live in Punjab. Most of them undergo harrowing experiences which would leave them permanently scarred- all due to the present day scourge of Punjab, which is drugs. And yet they find time to fall in love amidst all this and the morbid circumstances in which they fall in love makes their love all the more endearing.
All four of them are affected by drugs- two of them are junkies and one is the brother of one. Only one of them (Kareena Kapoor) has a clean life and yet she cannot escape being affected by the unfolding tragedy.
Shahid Kapoor plays Tommy, a rock star who can get inspiration for his singing only if he is high on cocaine. And this lands him in trouble with the police and with his fans and with his life. While trying to escape from all this he is saved in a dire situation by an unnamed Bihari immigrant labourer (Alia Bhatt). She had her own horrifying story of coming into possession of a cache of drugs smuggled from Pakistan, which set the drug mafia against her and made her a victim of some horrifying punishment by the mafia.
On the other side is Diljit Dosanjh, who plays a junior police officer who is happy taking bribes from the drug cartel till his own brother falls victim to drug addiction, which turns him hell bent on destroying the drug scourge. He takes the help of the doctor (Kareena) treating his brother to take on the drug mafia. But the mafia has politicians and police officers on it’s payroll and can unleash violence that can be unimaginable.
Ultimately the story of all four characters becomes part of one interconnected story. But the story has many other characters like the promoters of Tommy’s rock shows, the junkie brother of Diljit, the police officer who is in cahoots with the drug cartel, the politician who is the head honcho of it all and the mafia goons who torment Alia.
So can godforsaken foursome be saved from the situation they are in? Will the mafia goons and bosses get the just desserts for their sins? Watch the movie for the answers.
The movie is full of cuss words and foul language which plagues the whole script and brought it in trouble with the censor board. Some dialogues abuse Punjab itself (like saying that the land of the state is barren and it’s people are pimps) and some digs like naming a vile biting dog as Jackie Chan are unnecessary. Songs have words like cock and coke getting intermingled. The one cut in the film is the scene where Tommy urinates upon the audience of his rock show but the scene is only half cut and leaves the impression of Tommy masturbating instead of urinating because of the to and fro action he makes while urinating!! The audience was in splits during some songs sung by Tommy in which he repeatedly uses dirty words and swears again and again very loudly and literally goes over the top as he is high on drugs. Violence is of course an integral part of the film and it has regular doses of it. Just as things seem to be going right in the movie, the director chooses that time to strike tragedy in the film- heartwrenching .
The heart of the movie is the drug problem and shows a state awash in drugs. Drugs are available in the form of vials of liquid injections and are brazenly sold by chemists. Fake pharma companies stock the drugs and supply them and politicians who give speeches against drugs are the protectors of the whole trade. Police are heavily involved too. Comparisons with Mexico are repeatedly invoked in the film. The film does talk about the impact of the drug problem on the coming elections and therefore it is not surprising that the state government was suspected of being behind the move to cut major portions of the film.
Photography is okay but music is most sublime and so are the songs. Some of the songs could remain in my memory for long and music is perfect for any given situation. Acting is great by all but the acting by Alia Bhatt is so special and goes a long way in creating sympathy for her character which is ruined beyond recall but still full of spirit. There is no dull moment in the movie, which keeps you riveted to your seat as if you have been seatbelted to it.
Verdict- Absolutely riveting
Four and a half stars