Every once in a while, we get a film that receives more than its fair share of controversy, which might or mightn’t be deserved. Ishqiya-fame Abhishek Chaubey’s latest, Udta Punjab (Flying Punjab), is one such film. Its focus on the drug menace in the north Indian state of Punjab had the Central Board of Film Certification Chief Pahlaj “Sanskaari” Nihalani seething and frothing, suggesting some 89 cuts. Thanks to the stupendous Indian judiciary, we have the film in an almost-uncut version in the theaters. Thank God!
Kareena proves here that she can act when she gets a good script. For an actress who has films like Omkara, Jab We Met and Chameli on her CV, the past few years have been largely listless with arm candy roles in ₹ 100-crore grossers. Here, in a role which demands her to be nuanced and in control, she ditches the superfluous and turns on the charm. Shahid Kapoor gets another reminder that he is more suited to films like Kaminey and Haider than, say, Shaandaar. His Tommy is narcissistic and over-the-top as well as heartfelt and understated, according to the situation’s demands. Diljit Dosanjh makes an interesting début. He is a superstar in Punjab and shows here that he could be a force in Hindi cinema too. The song “Ek Kudi”, sung by him, is touching and with a couple of repeats on the music player, would catch on the lips fast. But the movie’s most satisfying character arc is that of Alia Bhatt’s Mary Jane (as she tells us in a scene). Despite all the heartbreaks and obstacles life throws at her, she has the iron will and determination to keep going on for what she wants her destiny to be. Her monologue when she describes her life late in the film is spellbinding. It is also a refreshing change to have a character from the rural Bihar/UP background in the lead which has an arc like this. Credit to the makers and the actress for pulling this off. A couple of guys in the row ahead of mine in the theatre were actually wondering whether the actress playing the migrant was indeed Alia. A bit too goofy you might say, but such is the state of information in the Internet Age.
Points to Ponder :
1) The film has a lot of profanities which, if you have been following the news recently, is common knowledge. So if you’re one of those who find that offensive, please save your money for something more suited to your tastes.
2) The film is in Punjabi mostly, with Hindi and Bhojpuri making occasional appearances. The filmmakers have used an easier version of the language so that the movie is understood easily. They’ve also provided English subtitles which is good I think but should probably have been in Hindi for the rural masses. Regardless, the dialogues aren’t hard to understand for non-Punjabis like me. 🙂
3) Typically for an Abhishek Chaubey film, Udta Punjab has a lot of dry humour and situational comedy that will keep you tickling. Occasionally, the profanities are funny too.
Udta Punjab is Rated A and is 148 minutes long. It is now playing in cinemas.
Rating : 4.5/5.
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