Finally, the mavericks at Phantom have started to churn out movies which can both stir the social curry as well money counters. 38.8 Cr in the opening weekend must have been a big deal for the producers. It’s been a long time since the money came in crashing for them.
Udta Punjab is a treat to watch, for a lot of reasons. Is it an unconventional movie?Yes. Is it entertaining?Yes. Does it have a message for the society? Yes. Does Alia have an item Song? No. Sorry. She was not paid that much or even Kareena for that reason.
The latent stench of a documentary has been well camouflaged behind the long flowing locks of Shahid Kapoor. Within ten minutes of the movie, you get a feel that the director means business. There is no excess social drama that usually forms the part of movies which are on Drug menace-A poor family with a little source of income and the main earning member hooked to the syringe-No, Sir. This one started right at the barbed Indo-Pak border of Punjab from where this stuff is pushed in.
Now, why of all states Punjab is hooked. Well, let me try to give you a concise explanation-Pakistan is our neighbor and its goal since inception has been the destruction of India. Now, once the top echelons of the Pak leadership realized that India cannot be fucked straight on, they took on the age old method of poisoning our roots, turning our people against us and smuggling every contraband ever invented by man. They first brought terror to Punjab. The Khalistan movement which was spearheaded by the legendary Bhindrawale was at its peak during the early eighties. Gurudwaras across were Punjab were agog with the chatter of the Sikh rebellion and formation of the separate Sikh country. Pakistan provided the movement with all the logistics and ammunition required.
Well, these plans were foiled by the feared Punjab police along with RAW. Punjab police, then led by the KPS Gill simply kicked ass. Once the serpent( Bhindrawale) was killed in theOperation Blue Star the movement died. But, my flatmate who is a Punjabi tells me that Bindrawala is still revered among the youngsters in Punjab. Songs full of words like “Bhindrawaley tere peccche assi hainge” can still be heard in college dorms.
So, the next plan of Pakistan was to be the DTDC for the contraband manufactured in Afghanistan. From what I have heard is that one kg of stuff can be made for only 1000 rupees in Afghanistan. Its value shoots up to 1 million on crossing the Pakistan border and by the time it reaches it the barbed wire between India and Pakistan it costs 10 million rupees. So, it serves both the purposes, getting the entire generation hooked and generating huge profits. These profits are then reinvested in propagating the Jehadi sentiments among the tribal youth in Afghan-Pak border and sending them to suicide mission across Pir Panchal.
The trailers of the movie were too much focussed on the antics of the Shahid Kapoor, who I think had a very limited role in the movie. He was just a motif, a live example to make it easy for the audience to relate to the situation as well as a comic relief. For me, the main hero was the Daljit Dosanjh. Honestly, I had never even heard of Daljit before Udta Punjab. For Indians, everything is okay till the problem is outside the boundary walls of the house, but once the devil enters our house suddenly we are up in arms. This has been accurately captured through Daljit’s character.
Initially, he was shown as the Police guy complaining about the low rates of bribes at the check posts. And when the same stuff nearly ended his brother’s life, he came to his senses and together with a doctor (Kareena) started to expose the system.
From the sidelines, Punjab has been captured beautifully, the language, the rural settings and the scale of the issue. I guess a huge credit must be given to the screenwriters who made the camera cover all the aspects of this menace without once losing the flow for the audience.
For people who don’t know the basics of the business got to see all spheres of the operations. The audience was exposed to the full supply chain of this operation. Right from the sourcing of the chemicals, manufacturing, transportation till distribution. Drugs trade or any illegal trade at such a large scale cannot stand without the express support of the administration and politicians.
In between this a parallel story of a young Bihari migrant girl was running its painful course. It was heart wrenching to see her plight. I think no actress could have done more justice to that difficult role than Alia Bhatt. At this point, you begin to appreciate the director’s acumen. In all her movies, Alia Bhatt’s “glamor” has been the main selling point. But, here she was without any makeup playing the role of a freckled and abused girl to the perfection. I am no expert but I found Alia’s performance a new benchmark in Bollywood and she is still 23.
I think her suffering actually struck the chord with the audience and they must have left the cinema halls with heavy hearts and thinking how the fuck we let this happen to the Land of Five Rivers.
That is what should be the ultimate goal of a filmmaker. To expose the ugly side of the society and get a debate started on the issue. And mind you, this movie has exactly done it. There were full efforts by HIGHER powers to scuttle the release of the movie. But the makers stood their ground. Finally, the Censor board relented and it was released as per schedule without any cuts. Censor board got its revenge by leaking the copy on the internet, but that didn’t hurt the movie much.
Any feedback and comments will be welcome.
I wanted to write Jason Bourne’s review too, but I dozed off. But, you please go ahead and enjoy it.
For those who have not listened to the beautiful track, Ikk Kudi.
Here’s the link: