A film should engage its audience completely in its world. If there is a film that engages its audience for sometime and let him “fly” away later then that’s “Udta Punjab”, the first film marketed by “CBFC”. Directed by “Abhishek Chaubey” who came up with “Ishqiya” and “Dedh Ishqiya” earlier, this film stars Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh in pivotal roles. It is produced by Ekta Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap under their production houses “Balaji Motion Pictures” and “Phantom Films”.
This plot depicts how drug mafia rules Punjab by taking its youth under complete control. It also portrays the lives of Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a drug addicted rockstar, a Bihari hockey player (Alia Bhatt) who leads the life of a farmer, Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) who fights against drugs and Sartaj Singh (Diljit), a corrupted cop who supports drug mafia.
As soon as the narration starts, audience couldn’t understand why does a guy do yoga in a field. But presenting the title in that scene was so creative which opens the door for audience to enter Udta Punjabi world. Abhishek Chaubey should be fully credited here.
The director might have been influenced by Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream” in portraying the effects of drug addiction yet this Indian version is much abridged. The entire first half was so engaging, portraying the effects of drug addiction in a realistic way. The scene where Alia throws the drug packet in a well and its consequences were heart-touching. The scene where Tommy confronts with guys humming his song in the jail was very eminent which is further elevated by Shahid’s performance.
When there comes a partial love track in the film, it turned out to be a routine film with a sluggish narration. Here, Abhishek gave a chance of flying away to his audience. He brought him back with the scene between Alia and Tommy in which both performed so well proving who is the biggest “lallu” among them. Later, “Amit Trivedi” supported the narration well with his composition “Ik Kudi”, soulfully sung by “Shahid Mallya”.
There comes the chance again for an audience to fly away when Sartaj’s brother Balli (Prabhjyot Singh) created a mess in Preet’s clinic. This scene was felt unnecessary without which the narration could be continued to “Sultanpura”. It was neither heart touching nor realistic. Instead, it appeared forced. Abhishek tried to end the film in a realistic way, showing Balli realising his mistake. At this point, most of the patrons walked out of the auditorium without knowing there are about five minutes of narration more. It was not impressive though because from the mid-second half, Abhishek concentrated on the rehabilitation of Tommy and Alia completely rather than fighting against drug mafia, which is much stronger problem.
On the whole, “Udta Punjab” turned out to be an average film with strong content yet failed to get constant attention from its audience throughout its runtime of 148 minutes.
- Realistic narration in the first half.
- Performances of Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.
- Amit Trivedi’s Music and the background score of Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar.
- Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography.
- Misdirected and sluggish narration in the second half.
– Yashwanth Aluru