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Ashdoc's Movie Review---Udta Punjab

Discussion in 'Theatre, Movies & Cinema' started by ashdoc, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. ashdoc

    ashdoc India
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    The Bombay high court really did us a favour by allowing 'udta Punjab' to be released without too many cuts---for the film is really worth seeing. It is hard not to be affected by the performances and it is doubly hard not to be affected by the film.

    udta-punjab.jpg

    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 most 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 .
     
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  3. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    'Udta Punjab': a choppy but wholly worthwhile trip

    A gut-wrenching look at the frightening dystopia that is Punjab today owing to rampant drug abuse .
    Growing up in Delhi one always felt something extremely reassuring, secure and comforting about the Sikh and Punjabi elders around, much more than the seniors of any other community. They seemed to ooze an infectious optimism and positivity. An affectionate word, a warm hug from them and even in your worst moments of crisis you’d feel that everything will eventually turn out alright; that you will move on to better things, battered a bit perhaps but all the more strong for it.

    No wonder a scene in 'Udta Punjab' broke my heart and betrayed these long-held beliefs in a mere instant. A patriarch gently addresses the Bihari migrant girl (Alia Bhatt, utterly real, raw and vulnerable) as “puttar” (child) and asks her why she stole heroin worth a crore if she had to eventually throw it away. The soft, soothing enquiry sets the most disturbing tenor for the viciousness and brutality that come to be heaped on her by his family of drug dealers, with his tacit nod of approval, of course. 'Udta Punjab' is all about swallowing such bitter pills.

    Despite the Partition, the Khalistan movement, insurgency and Operation Bluestar in the not-so-distant past, Punjab has largely been a prosperous and happy, gregarious and gung ho, outgoing and all embracing State in our collective thoughts. Chaubey exposes us to the frightening dystopia it has become in the past few years. And it’s not something out of his own fictional hat but rooted in the State’s unfortunate present. That the drug menace could turn it into a lawless Mexico (remember Traffic) is not just something that the film cries foul about but has been reported, read, seen and heard all along the way. But it acquires an added urgency and manic immediacy when it begins to unfold on the big screen.

    No surprise then that the film is forced to kick off with one of the longest disclaimers seen recently. A packet of heroin gets thrown like a discus from across the border and we are plunged into a pulsating, frenetic world of rock 'n' roll and drugs, of snorting chitta (white) powder, injecting a cocktail of liquids into the veins. Rock star Tommy (Shahid Kapoor, all sound and fury and sheer madness) aka Gabru takes you straight on the trip and gets you high. But Chaubey also breaks the frenzy and hallucination of the title track with the sad, worn out and gloomy faces of the ordinary, nameless addicts. The film might feel a trifle too loud and feverish for comfort at the start but you settle into its wildness and delirium in a matter of time. And you are totally in tune by the time a newly rehabilitated Tommy addresses his fans: “I composed a song on drugs and you turned it into your philosophy. You are even bigger losers than I am.”

    Not once does Chaubey glamorise the use of drugs. Nor does he turn exploitative with the grime, filth and muck. In fact the film is unpleasant, disturbing and raw in the way it lays the abuse bare. The lives lost to addiction cut an immensely sorry figure, more so the desperate families when things reach home, when it’s no longer about “Sadde munde theek, horan de kharab (our kids are fine, it’s the others who have turned wayward)”. It’s a Hotel California everyone is trapped in with no signs of escape. Simultaneously Chaubey also shows the long and tough road to recovery. His moral core is strong and firm. It’s a war against drugs, against political and systemic complicity (Badal anyone) and against one’s own self. In the madness all around there are two voices of sanity and transformation –ASI Sartaj (Diljit Dosanjh, easy going, charming and nuanced) who gets sensitised to the issue when his own brother Balli turns an addict and doctor Preet (Kareena Kapoor, a figure of hope in her calm, untainted self), waging a war against substance abuse all on her own.

    The authenticity is not just in the issue or the locale but in the expletive-loaded lingo and lyrics as well. The film’s music matches the mood and the messaging. Much of the dialogue and songs are in Punjabi. Most of all the dark theme also echoes in the wry humour that is so typically Punjabi, like a cop calling the drug problem Green Revolution Part 2.

    There could be much to nitpick on. The cop-doc romantic track as well as the tenuous bond between Tommy and Pinky do seem out of place – yet also provide a much needed breather in the film’s suffocating world. One would have liked to know more of Pinky’s life as it moved from playing hockey to working on the fields with sickle in hand. The resolution could appear a tad too convenient and Goa might not quite the right escape from Punjab after all. But ultimately for me, 'Udta Punjab' is not about the story, the four main characters, their acting or the music even. It’s about relentless exposure to a gut-wrenching reality for 148 minutes (a shorter version may have been even stronger) that I am still trying to process. It’s about the many innocent, helpless Ballis being born to drugs everyday. I came out of the screening with Balli’s cries ringing harsh in my ears. They are haunting me. Still.

    Udta Punjab review: A choppy but wholly worthwhile trip
     
  4. ashdoc

    ashdoc India
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