Udta Punjab Movie Review

Abhishek Chaubey's drug-ridden crime thriller is an uneven yet brave attempt about the stark reality of the state

Brain-o-meter Rating: 8/10

Abhishek Chaubey, the director of Ishqiya and its sequel is back with a story that he can narrate effectively. His specialty has always been about the rustic hinterland where guns and drugs are part of everyday life.

Shahid Kapoor is outstanding as the lead singer who is being aped by the youth, who with due course of time, realizes that he has been a "Fuddu" and those copying him are bigger idiots. His character arc veers off in the second half after he meets Alia, but Kapoor's rendition is magnificent. Diljit Dosanjh, the Punjabi film star, plays his grey cop character efficiently, and is one star to watch out for. Kareena Kapoor shines in her small yet catalysmic role. But it is Alia Bhatt as the Bihari hockey player who falls in tough times and has to face the consequences of her greed. She is terrific and is the strongest of the bunch. Watch this film to know that Highway was no fluke.

The songs especially Chitta Ve is fantastic and pushes the narrative forward. The stodgy screenplay in the second half breaks the flow, but the outstanding climax resuscitates the story to a great end. The cinematography is bleak and meager as one can expect it to be, occasionally lighting up the psychedelic drug circus of Shahid Kapoor's character Tommy. I agree with the censor board here that there were far more cuss words than required but nearly every frame matched the requirements so it is hard to argue the positioning in any way. Also the black humour works in easing up the serious undertones of the theme although the film treatment is brutal in more ways than one.

With four different characters, Chaubey renders a drug-afflicted world where morals are swiveling consistently downward. With help from stalwart directors and their timeless shots, including Tarantino, Danny Boyle, and the like, Chaubey manages a strong connect to the madness, the intensity and the rawness of the problem ravaging Punjab. In short, Udta Punjab does not strive to become a morality tale, but instead bravely defies convention in displaying the status quo. Hats off to the director and his vision and kudos to Ekta Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap to back this herculean effort.