All thanks to Pahlaj Nihalani, Anurag Kashyap and other producers saved a lot of money on PR and publicity on this multi-starer. Does the movie live up to the expectations? Yes and no.
The movie’s plot is simple and the tone preachy. There’s nothing in the movie that we already don’t know of. A docudrama at best and a romantic story at worst, Udta Punjab explores the lives of four people caught up in the quagmire of the drug problem in Punjab. Note that Punjab itself could be a metaphor for the manace all over the country with a huge narco-politician nexus, a police that get a cut in the proceeds, a lenient drug administration which allows lethal concoctions of drugs available for cheap.
What makes the movie immensely watchable is it’s inventive opening scenes, gritty portrayal and the actors. Kareena Kapoor plays the only character without much of an arch. Alia Bhatt proves once again that she’s an actress to look out for. Shahid Kapoor once again takes up a difficult role after Haider and walks away with applause. As a macho-posturing, drug-addled popstar on the decline, Shahid shows semblance to the rocker Johnny Quid in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla.
Diljit Doshanjh is the best thing about this movie. His portrayal of a self-confessed ‘slow cop’ is vulnerable, soft and at the same time exudes intensity. He is one actor we should be seeing more often.
More than the plot or the message that Udta Punjab conveys, it is applaudable that main stream superstars are taking up difficult roles that others may scoff at. Full marks to Abhishek Chaubey for the realistic portrayals and characterizations.