Udta Punjab movie review

I just watched #UdtaPunjab. The film is excellent and holds attention all through. This is #AliaBhatt ‘s finest performance to date. She surpasses herself and you see Pinky Kumari up there, the farmhand from the hinterland who’s battling the odds, not the beautiful, vivacious star. She handles every scene with immense prowess. Knowing the craft of acting, I can tell you that it takes a lot out of an actor to give a genuine performance when portraying extreme trauma. You have a tap a part of yourself and it can be very draining emotionally. To pull that off at 23 is commendable. To be a small town girl in your late twenties and have to portray a small town girl in her early-twenties (Kangana Ranaut in at least three films) is probably easier than having a protected existence and portraying a character at the other end of the spectrum. Alia is helped by a good script, competent direction and a fabulous get up. #ShahidKapoor plays his part effortlessly. His personality helps him portray the underground pop sensation. It also doesn’t hurt that dancing is his strong suit. We see the intensity we were witness to in ‘Haider’ when he broods on the the time gone by and dwells on his regrets. #DiljitDosanjh has a large part too, since he is a name to reckon with up north and does well, especially in the second half. He plays a key role in the climax. Unfortunately there’s very little chemistry between him and Kareena Kapoor. Kareena delivers a restrained performance, playing a doctor who helps drug addicts battle their demons and feels strongly about the issue. Where the film falters is in part of the characterization. Diljit Dosanjh is shown as particularly naive about the drug problem, which is surprising considering he’s a cop. Cops and crime reporters see a lot of crime on a daily basis and it takes a lot to shock them. They also usually become cynical along the way and often overly protective towards their family members. This aspect was authentically portrayed in ‘Taken’ where Liam Neeson is paranoid about his daughter’s safety. So, Daljit’s naiveté and ‘babe in the woods’ act seems rather contrived and more of a narrative device to give #KareenaKapoor the moral high ground as she talks down to him. More so, because he is shown as complicit in the drug racket, even if somewhat reluctantly. Except for one character who struggles with rehab, very little is shown about the struggles of addicts trying to kick the habit. Alia Bhatt’s clash with the mafia is also overly stretched. With the number of people gunning for her, you wonder why they are wasting so much time over a farm hand? What makes her so special for all of them? Also, some scenes in which she gets into a physical fight with hardened goons to rescue Shahid Kapoor seem implausible and overly done. This is however the film industry riding on the coat-tails of new age feminism, playing to the gallery. #SatishKaushik delivers playing his part. The expletives in the film should be a non issue really. You hear more expletives at an average north Indian wedding. Had the CBFC not played moral guardian, no one may have cared about the swear words sprinkled through the film. When you see the film, you also realize that the film is somewhat unfair to the state of Punjab. The film has dialogues like ‘Zameen banjar to aulaad kanjar’ which tar the entire state with the same brush. Also Diljit Dosanjh appeals to Kareena Kapoor to join him in battling the drug racket saying that all the men in Punjab are sleeping, intoxicated by drugs. So the women have to do something. This dialogue would understandably annoy Punjabi men and it seems unfair also to club all of them together as drug addicts, whichever political party may be in power. The cinematography is good. So is the editing. #AbhishekChaubey holds your interest for most of the film. The film is a gutsy take on the drug crisis that Punjab faces and it’s great that someone went through the effort of making a film that gives an insight into it. The Punjabi dialogues are easily understandable. Besides, the film has English subtitles. Some of the scenes like the car chase in the beginning of the film seem stretched but overall, it’s a film worth watching.

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