Udta Punjab is a bold attempt to uncover the dirty truth of drug addiction in Punjab. Kudos to Phantom Films for encouraging and supporting experimental cinema in Bollywood. Courtesy the fight between Producer Anurag Kashyap and CBFC, film got enough awareness and hype which should work in favor of the film.
Plot of the film is quite fresh and it has got a combination some good interesting characters. Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh is a 20 something drug addict turned rockstar who is unfortunately the youth icon in Punjab. Tommy himself is not able to fathom the power and responsibility he is carrying on his shoulder. To a great extent he is supporting the drug addiction and his fans are vehemently following his footsteps. Alia Bhatt as a district hockey player from Bihar who is forced to turned into a labor due to consequences. Due to a small mistake, she is getting dragged into this cocaine industry which she does't even understand. Diljit Dosanjh is a corrupt police officer who is getting pulled between his mind and his heart. Kareena Kapoor, who is not just a doctor but is also a sole crusader against this drug menace.
Movie starts off as a fast paced story, dealing with a very serious issue. Picturisation, language and mannerism of people make the presentation of Punjab very real. Film shows that at every level people are involved in this scam. How entire generation of youth is getting wasted with this? Suddenly, the plot turns romantic in second half amidst all this chaos, blood bath and politics. Wow!!! How could one even think about it? Shahid and Alia are high on cocaine and meet for 5 mins. Only thing they talk about is who is the biggest loser and for some reason Shahid falls for Alia. I swear, it is a very transaction conversation without any poetry or emotional melodrama. But, when you are high on coke one can see abstract art even in thin air.
Film scores above average in overall acting department. Shahid looks very believable as a druggie rockstar Tommy Singh. He can do intense roles very well for e.g. Kaminey, Haider. But in 2nd half when Tommy gets normal, unfortunately our hero gets artificial. He doesn't know how to just relax and act normal and I could see a deja vu of Shandaar happening. Big pat on the pack to Alia Bhatt for multiple reasons. First, she took the bold step of doing a non glamorous role which most mannequin actresses shy away from as it hurts their sexy image..meh! I wasn't too impressed with her portrayal of a Bihari labor. She didn't get the diction right nor the body language. But, still amount of efforts she has put up in the role is commendable. Diljit Dosanjh is a celebrity in Punjabi film industry and did a fabulous job of playing a police officer. Kareena Kapoor looks adorable and did a good job of playing Dr Preet. Even the supporting cast of Satish Kaushik and Prabjyot Singh is impressive.
Direction in the film is definitely above average. I would just like to point out 3 areas which could have been dealt better. First, entire romantic angle of Shahid- Alia was way too filmy and completely artificial. Second, Kareena Kapoor with her team as a crusader against entire system was too heroic. This masala angle doesn't gel well with realistic theme of the film. Third, too many people were killed recklessly in the film. It looked more like a Counter Strike game where you need to kill people to move ahead in game. It seems director just loves Cannes, because every casualty had a wound behind his/her Cann (ear) and blood dripping to the shoulders. Too coincidental that everyone's ears are bleeding!
Background music and Soundtrack of the film is mid blasting. Movie starts off with an energetic number Chitta ve.. moves to Ud-daa Punjaaab and towards the end we get a very soothing and melodious Ikk Kudi. Totally loved music composition and it was a treat to hear so many new talented voices.
Verdict: Film is a little rough and harsh, laced with expletives. If you like realistic films and can understand Punjabi you'll love this film. Unfortunately, towards the second half it became a little kitchen king masala else it would have been a classic. I wish Anurag Kashyap would have directed the film as well. Watch it alone or with your wolf pack to enjoy it maximum.