I remember ‘Sarson Da Saag’ and ‘Makke Di Roti’ whenever the word Punjab comes to my mind. Indian cinema had always had this obsession to paint a live and happy picture of the state. We have this beautiful understanding that the people of Punjab are all friendly and will laugh with you on almost everything. They will adore and hug you like their own child and you’ll feel haven safe in their arms. If that is the reality then why I am seeing a completely opposite picture in the latest movie, Udta Punjab?
The reason is that the ‘happy go lucky’ state has lost its luck and found happiness in Chitta (or Coke). I do not know if this is the Green Revolution Part 2 as highlighted by one of the policeman in the movie but quite sure that this problem has not been dealt yet. Even acknowledging this sorry fact would help the generations to come. The director Abhishek Chaubey and the producer Anurag Kashyap have already seen so much chaos in the states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that their vision or perception about Punjab would definitely be a solid ground reality. At least this is what I had in mind before watching this move and I have been proven right again.
The movie touches the core issues surrounding the drug problem such as abuse, relationships, and the addict’s state of mind. Please do not think of Rahul Gandhi here as this is a serious issue. The movie does a commendable job in highlighting the core issues without glamorizing the use of drug. This is the main highlight of the movie. There were few movies in the past on this issue such as Dum Maaro Dum and Go Goa Gone but they all glamorized the use of drugs in one way or the other. Udta Punjab does not show an uber-cool youth with drugs but shows how a youth is destroyed with its use. The marvelous direction along with solid performances from all the actors makes this a must watch.
One of the performances worth mentioning here is of Alia Bhatt. She just lifted the entire premise of the movie. A young girl coming from the state of Bihar and later used and abused by the ‘happy go lucky’ people of Punjab had struck me the most. She said in one of the conversations with Tommy (played by Shahid Kapoor) that she played hockey for the district. And her fate landed her in the happiest state of India. Kareena Kapoor Khan is also solid in her short role. Diljit Dosanjh is amazing in his first hindi cinema performance. He aptly justified the role of a local policeman. Not to forget that Shahid Kapoor has yet again proven his mantle after the movie, Kaminey.
Lastly, I would say if you still want to give this movie a miss because of the controversy, you are only supporting the use of drugs.