Udta Punjab: Film Review – Superb Execution of a Grim Premise

Verdict: Lives up to the hype.
Finally, Udta Punjab has released amidst all the controversy and the hype, and has gotten people questioning whether it’s worth all the hype. Well, it is. Udta Punjab takes a very grim premise – the connection between drug lords and local politicians who prey on the youth to make immoral money, about the police who “work with the system”, and finally, the Punjabi youth who have succumbed to the substance abuse addictions – and puts an entertaining spin on it. Enough has been spoken about the censorship issues the film was involved with. But the movie rises above all the controversies and delivers an amazing watch.
Without wasting any time, the movie starts showing you the dark realities of how a drug nexus works – right from the credits. It majorly involves four lead characters and how drugs affect their lives. Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is a washed up, spoilt Punjabi rockstar, whose personality and life revolve around cocaine. Dr. Preet Sahani, played by Kareena Kapoor, is a doctor who is doing her bit sincerely in order to help people drop their drug habit. Alia Bhatt plays a young girl from Bihar, who comes to Punjab in search of a better life but gets addicted to heroin instead. The debutante Diljit Dosanjh plays Assistant Police Inspector Sartaj, who is struggling to help his addicted brother out with Preet’s help.
The first half of the movie is a tad bit slow and could’ve used more edits. However, it does a great job of introducing us to the characters in the movie. The second half is crisper and leads to a very exciting and an interesting climax. Tommy lacks the depth that is expected out of a Shahid Kapoor performance. Is this is a result of the censorship? We will never know. Kareena delivers a decent performance; cannot complain there. Diljit may not be the buff, alpha male “hero” we expect our protagonists to be. But he is more than that, probably because he keeps it real and is very endearing. However, the show pretty much belongs to Ms. Bhatt. Be it her scenes in which she is trapped with horrible, immoral people, her scene in which she breaks down for the first time or her intense performance towards the end of the movie, Alia has owned it all. In fact, you might find yourself waiting for her to come back on the screen.
Barring a few moments in which typical filmy logic raises its head, most of the movie makes you relate to the well-etched characters (and not just the lead characters, mind you) with a certain amount of empathy. The film gets a bit brutal at times, but not needlessly. Surprisingly, it also has a few light moments that might ease you into the movie, which is quite grim otherwise.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
While most people might watch it merely out of curiosity, for the ones who need a reason, please watch it for the whole package. The performances are brilliant, the story is good, the execution is very believable, and will make you think hard. Watch it to understand the repercussions of a drug-riddled population and the starkness of the narrative. Try Udta Punjab this weekend- you will not regret it. 

Release Date: 17 Jun, 2016
Language: Hindi
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Genre: Action, Thriller
Cast & Crew: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh

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