Udta Punjab - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

Gritty film that makes you uncomfortable enough for it to stay long after you leave the theater. Yes, that makes for a good film.



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Movies about drug abuse is not new to us. Affect of drug abuse and how it takes deep roots is not news either. You might or might not be surprised that this is rampant in Punjab. You might be taken aback by the influence even though the state is merely a stop to the drugs' ultimate destination. Yet, none of these can be the sole reason for Udta Punjab to suck you into its spiraling story. It is the confluence of a quirky narrative style, matching performances and the mood created by the camerawork, sound, editing, art direction – yes, pretty much the entire team.

Sure, the narration uses editing as a very obvious tool to create connection between characters. Some times, it is a little too in the face, but at most other times it works to retain your attention. The intermingling of the stories itself works well as the unlikely dots connect in the last half hour.

Of course, each of the four protagonists are very obvious representations of the social strata they come from. Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is the local rockstar who is as expected full of himself. A nameless, petite lass (Alia Bhatt) represents the small village girl with huge aspirations who is just at all the wrong places at all the wrong times. She makes you wonder about the quantity and quality of inner strength a human being could possibly have. Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is the quintessential corrupt cop with threadbare ethics. And Dr. Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) is the conscience of a deteriorating society who wants to set things right.

Despite these stereotypical, more-or-less predictable descriptions, each of the characters has a little something in them which connects you to them – will to do good, remorse, need for redemption, fear of unknown, need to be fearless and more.

Each character's actions and reactions are brought out perfectly by the actors. However, Alia Bhatt held the film together. It is as much the character and her situation, as it is the actor who absorbs all your attention, sympathy and goodwill. So much so that, it takes the light away from capable performances by each of the other actors, including Shahid Kapoor's madcap rockstar do, Kareena Kapoor's elegance and Diljit Dosanjh's quiet demeanour.

Yet, it is these put together along with great contributions from each of the other departments that keep Udta Punjab from being yet another foul-mouthed, typical “Don't do drugs” film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots of it
  • Language: Lots of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Rape implied
  • Concept: The state of drug abusers from different strata of life.
  • General Look and Feel: Raw, dark and grim

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 4.5
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Udta Punjab - Movie Details

Udta Punjab - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (10)

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YRF and Dharma started the trend and Balaji and Kashyap latching on. Make girls and guys mouth some foul language in English and even better in Hindi and it is a sign of progress. If for these film-makers the symbolic signs of progress of society is being able to say MC/BC then I feel sorry for such pseudo directors. I am well off with Rohit Shettys and Neeraj Pandeys.

If at all the trailer was highly depressing to watch. I have my sincere doubts on the potential of this film. Shahid Kapoor backing yet another flop project?

As regards drug abuse problem, yes it is a sad thing. But is it that widespread a problem in India that people would understand it, leave aside empathizing?


@Fan I don't think it is a sign of progress. I just think of it as this given character talks like this and it would be unnatural if they did not talk with abuses. Also, is it necessary that our films should only talk about problems that everyone understands. Maybe some things should be known if they are not widely known?


Also, is it necessary that our films should only talk about problems that everyone understands. Maybe some things should be known if they are not widely known?

@Meeta: my point was to comment on the "business potential" of the film. If the film does not connect with the audiences, there is no way it is going to be a commercial success.


@Fan baah! money :P




The overzealous creative club of Bollywood are ignorant to such a point that they do not even realize that for each 1 intellect-city-dwelling-AC-enjoying-wine-sipping-forwardlooking-socialite there are at least 20 Indians who are out in the heat and dust, never set a foot in AC area, do not have access to internet enabled gadgets to voice their protest and their dislike and hatred for such garbage as being pilfered by Anurag Kashyap and his ilk. Just because you-scratch-my-back-and-I-scratch-your-back Bollywood community have the means of voicing their creative moods via internet and other medias, and the corresponding 20 people out in the open who do not have access nor time to take to internet and other media to voice their protest, does not mean that the creative Bollywood guys are correct. Without recognizing the sentiments of real India, without understanding and respecting their sensitivities, such artificial film-makers have no credibility.

I have always been against such negative generalization of an ENTIRE country or ENTIRE community with one single brush - be it a Raju Hirani with mediocre PK or Anurag Kashyap with a mediocre UP. Nobody has given such creative guys the right to defame an entire community in the name of creativity. And if we were to do something similar on this blog or elsewhere the admins would be quick to delete such posts - just shows to what filthy level films have fallen but because they are marketed as intellect stuff nobody dares to call their bluff.

UP is a regressive film, as is evident from the trailer and as I wrote in my initial comment. It is also, as suggests the title, a gross generalization of all Punjabis - which is nothing less than racial slur - and is 100% comparable to saying that all people of a certain community are terrorists.

Liberties desired by such over-hyped and egomaniac directors are fine if they could handle the liberties with responsibility. They have not given any proof of such responsible behaviour so far. Censorship needs to be applied where self-censorship is not applied by directors. India is a country with multiple religions and dozens of casts within the religions; several regions with their traditions and cultures; and allowing non-self-censored film-makers the liberty to express things without taking care of the sensitivities of everybody is irresponsible from the part of the state.

So please Kashyap and all his fans - grow up - learn to accept that rules are there to maintain decency in the society - and stop using your internet enabled devices to cry about how 1% of population who is hell-bent on maligning 99% of the population is being stopped by the "admins" put in place by society. The “admins” have a role to play, based on certain criteria and guidelines, and they will play that role.

Ehinome Okojie:

There is Diljit Dosanjh the powerhouse of Punjabi cinema, yes it should recover cost overall or lose a little.
Do not understand the rants of an extremist.


Its a very good movie.. Best of this year along with Kapoors And Sons and Neerja. Glad that all the three movies have earned their profit as well as good reviews and will also fetch some awards. I don't think any other criteria left for their judgment. Dont want to say anything else.


Good first half shattered by a pointless and directionless second half. Very disappointed. 6/10.

@Fan : No. of internet users in India stand at 46 cr so that's not exactly a 1:20 ratio. The same wine sipping intellectuals have given a thumbs up to some of your favorites like ZNMD and DDD as well as some of my favorites like Piku, Kapoor & Sons, Kaminey and Delhi Belly. Different films cater to different sensibilities and as long as the movie entertains its target audience, the purpose is solved. Unfortunately, Anurag has missed the mark on most occasions though.

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 3
Character Artists: 3
Dialogues: 3
Screenplay: 3.5
Music Director: 2
Lyrics: 2.5

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