Udta Punjab

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

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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Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Running time: 150 minutes
Genres: Noir, Social, Thriller
More Movie Info

Udta Punjab - Preview

The first I heard about Udta Punjab was from the Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor's Twitter feeds. The first poster I saw made me curious. Then they gave Shahid Kapoor's look which seemed a little over the top and then I was taken aback by Alia Bhatt's look and was pleasantly surprised to see Kareena Kapoor feature in this one. Then came the who's who of Bollywood going gaga over the trailer.

Sure, the trailer is good and doubles up the curiosity. But, it also brings along a sense that it could all fall flat after the shock value has settled in. It is about a very pertinent issue and from the trailer, it doesn't look like it will get into 'preach' mode. Yet, if there is not much of a story that keeps it all together, it could be well be banking on just foul languaged mouthed with full intensity.

I am out of connectivity again for this one and will get to it only by first week of July. By then, the verdict would have been out and forgotten too. Or hopefully not.

(This preview was written in the second week of May and has been auto-published.)

- meeta, a part of the audience

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

37 reviewers(?) - 24 yays 12 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Feral Frenetic, riveting, hypnotic, hallucinogenic and altogether incredible we’ve never seen anything quite like Udta Punjab before. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sreeju Sudhakaran, Bollywood Life : ...Udta Punjab is definitely Bollywood cinema at its bravest, and also works as an eye-opener for people ignorant of the evils that’s plaguing our youth. Everyone involved in the making of the film should be lauded for backing such a film, when our viewers are still not able to get over the blockbuster fever. Yes, the film is very dark and mature, needed a tighter narrative and might not even be a 100-crore grosser, but still…it is a film our society desperately needs! ... full review

Thumbs up, by Mehul S Thakkar, Deccan Chronicle : ...Don't watch Udta Punjab because it was embroiled in controversies but because its a story not many would have dared to tell. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Krish Sripada, Desi Martini : ...The icing on the cake is the scene of an injured once-rockstar, now-hunted Gabru, who confesses how there is a tune in his head conjured after he met a girl and how he could only get salvation by saving her. The cinematography doesn't glamorise the verdancy of Punjab. Instead it flips between the beautiful and rustic and the dilapidated and ugly. A brilliant watch, sans the pardonable compromises!... full review

Thumbs up, by Ameet Bhuvan , Desi Martini : ...Resolving it self into an oversimpliefied climax, the film also could have benefitted with a shorter running length. Nonetheless, with brilliant performances by the lead four, Udta Punjab is a film that needed to be made and more improtantly needs to be seen. More power to such cinema. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Shefali Saxena, Desi Martini : ...It’s a great watch for people who understand philosophy and symbolic stuff. Udta Punjab is a perfect blend of symbolic scenes, especially where Alia Bhatt fades out after a joint and swims towards a light, which signifies she’s yearning for help and hopeful that she’ll be free of this menace one day. It’s amazing how the director Abhishek Chaubey manages to sync all the characters together, even though some of them don’t’ share screen time at all. Kudos to the writer Sudip Sharma! ... full review

Thumbs up, by Smita Vyas Kumar, Desi Martini : ... This is a must see movie. It has been saved from the Censor’s knife for you to appreciate. You owe it to the film maker’s to see this movie. Do not miss. ... full review

Thumbs up, by MiHika SenGupta, Desi Martini : ...Is it a must watch? Yes! Of course! For sure! Even if you don’t plan a two time watch for this film, one time watch is deserved by it. Very aptly can be termed as one of the best films of 2016, Udta Punjab will surely take you along in its flight and land you safely. Don’t forget to put on the safety belts, though.... full review

Thumbs up, by Aakriti Anand, Filmfare : ...Over and above, Udta Punjab is not just a winner in Court but also a cracker of a film. It certainly makes you think. While the film is bound to start a dialogue about substance use and abuse, it might even spark off a solution. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Renila Abraham, FirstPost : ...If you were thinking of downloading the torrent and watching it, don't. Watch this review instead, and then go to the theatre to watch the movie. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Josh, fullhyd.com : ...Udta Punjab isn't particularly hard-hitting but is, nonetheless, a tender film which ably narrates two engaging stories. Just make sure to pitch your expectations right when you walk into the hall. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times : ...The film is entirely Chaubey’s. Bringing in inspiration from Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers and Vishal Bhardwaj, he showcases the paradox of Punjab in Bollywood films. The land of lassi and mustard fields isn’t about a romantic duet anymore, and if you don’t act fast… well, watch the movie to find out. There are no reasons not to. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Divya Pal, IBN Live : ...Chaubey’s Punjab has nothing to do with what we have seen for years in popular, entertaining YRF projects. The Punjab in the film isn’t about green fields, local fairs, and petty women. It is different and creepier, and that's why it is real and haunting. ... full review

Thumbs up, Indicine : ...Conclusion: If you were expecting a Kahaani level of thriller, then your wishes have come true. Well, almost. Te3n is one of the best thrillers that has been made in Bollywood but the slow initial pace lets it down a tad bit. The main actors are in some of their best form and carry the film on their able shoulders. Te3n is one of best remakes/adaptations of a foreign movie and deserves to be seen by everyone with a finer taste in movies. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Chaubey and co-screenwriter Sudip Sharma move these four characters and a host of minor ones around like chess pieces, some of them running defence, others making sudden attacks. That the writing is profane is common knowledge after the censor troubles of the past few weeks, but the harshness of speech makes perfect sense, for this is a harsh film. In prison, Tommy comes across two fans of his. They rap a few lines from his first hit track, tell Tommy they idolize him, then reveal that they’re in jail for killing their mother. After a scene like this, it’s difficult not to curse, even if you’re an audience member. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...Walking out of the theatre, one is grateful that the filmmakers fought for this film. This had to be served undistilled, and untouched by people who don't see or choose not to see the gravity of the situation. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...The liberal use of cuss words may be too grating for some ears. Udta Punjab is not family entertainment, but it is an undeniably magnificent - and purposeful - commercial Hindi film. Do not miss it. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...It stands for everything that is opposite of what it was accused of. The extreme nature of its actions strives to stress on the absolutely pathetic state of Punjab’s affairs, perfectly encapsulated in a scene featuring a stoned gatekeeper who can neither guard nor confront. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...Oh, and a word about that music: Woof. Amit Trivedi is a master, Chaubey has a gift for placing music and adding context to moments, and the decision to use Shiv Kumar Batalvi's dazzling poem Ikk Kudi as a literal part of the narrative is a marvellous one. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Yes, it’s gritty, but it is the other leave-your -brains-at-home “family entertainers” that one should be more careful of. This is a film to be encouraged, not silenced. Not only do I recommend Udta Punjab as mandatory viewing, I also urge that the film be made tax-free. Very few films touch a cord such that they can actually make a difference. The question is, do we want a difference? ... full review

Thumbs up, by Jyothi Venkatesh, Star Blockbuster : ...Last Word:Though Punjab’s drug crisis with its politics disturbs you, the characters grow in on you. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The authenticity is not just in the issue or the locale but in the expletive-loaded lingo and lyrics as well. The film’s music matches the mood and the messaging. Much of the dialogue and songs are in Punjabi. Most of all the dark theme also echoes in the wry humour that is so typically Punjabi, like a cop calling the drug problem Green Revolution Part 2. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, Times of India : ...Chaubey uses a part-documentary-part-mainstream approach here. Post interval, the film is sometimes too indulgent and sluggish. Also this is not your sunny-side up cinema. It is stark and makes you cringe.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...‘Udta Punjab’ is definitely a must-watch, but for a film that is tackling so real an issue even the minor indulgences seem a bit much. This film is not a fun ride and for serious film buffs, the fact that the director seems to lose his grip a little is disappointing. ... full review

So-So, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...It is hard to believe that this uneven treatment of a grave issue has come to us from the director who delivered Vidya Balan to us in all her electrifying glory in the otherwise mixed bag that was Ishqiya (2010), from the man who gave us the genteel Dedh Ishqiya (2014) starring Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Huma Qureshi. ... full review

So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, UDTA PUNJAB is a dark and serious film that does not offer the traditional entertainment that audiences seek from Bollywood movies. At the same time, it is bold and brave in parts with strong performances by all actors. ... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Finally, the film belongs to Alia Bhatt who plays a character so out of her comfort zone and does not hit any false notes. ... full review

So-So, by Sarita A Tanwar, DNA : ...Udta Punjab has some great performances but the film lets you down. ... full review

So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...This Abhishek(Ishqiya) Chaubey helmed film is in fact a cry for help – so that a reversal of fortunes can be engineered in a once robust state that was the heart of the green revolution in India. This may not be a film for the faint-hearted but those who are willing to go the extra mile for a rare experience, it’s a must watch – on the big screen of course! ... full review

So-So, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...All said and done, UDTA PUNJAB is certainly bold, highlights a critical issue and is powered by prize acts, though it makes the 'thinking' audience show a sign of concern, it fails to make the 'aam junta' react the way they should have. But for those who look for something out of the box, dark, with a 'kick' of realisms, UDTA PUNJAB is your shot. Take it. ... full review

So-So, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...Written by Abhishek Chaubey and Sudip Sharma, Udta Punjab is not the most comprehensive film on the state's vicious drug crisis. What it tries to be, with varying success, is a humane drama about the damaging consequences of drugs on the youth, and how the politicians and police forces are partners in crime as they facilitate the illegal industry for their own profit. There's a reason the state's ruling parties are laying low and distancing themselves from the film for it genuinely has you worried for the state which is losing a generation to drugs. ... full review

So-So, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...All said and done, Udta Punjab is an entertaining watch, but had the potential to be something more than that. ... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Amit Trivedi's soundtrack delivers psychedelic tunes like Chitta Ve, the title track and soulful Da Da Dasse. The use of a calming track to complement extremely violent visuals has been done time and again, from Snatch ( Golden Brown) to Shaitan ( Khoya Khoya Chand) and this film uses the old trope competently. ... full review

So-So, Sify Movies : ...Overall, Udta Punjab, with all the hype it created in the media for its “expression of creative freedom” is worth a watch, only for the performances and social message. ... full review

So-So, by Karan Bali, Upper Stall : ...All in all, while one applauds Udta Punjab’s courage and victory in the larger battle for freedom of expression of filmmakers against the tyranny of the CBFC, the icing on the cake would have been had the film lived up to its potential. As it is, Udta Punjab just about takes off but thereafter fails to soar. ... full review

So-So, by Dhriti Sharma, Zee News : ...A story this intense, a reality so appalling was beautifully cast upon the mind of audiences, transporting them to the land of drugs.The war with drugs, could have been a little stronger with its punch, to uncover the undercover. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...Watch or Not?: After all the hue and cry over its release, Udta Punjab comes off as disappointing. The film fails to give you a high, this ‘maal’ seems too ‘milavati’! ... full review

27 tweeters(?) - 24 yays 1 so-so 2 nays

Tubbydutta: udta punjab..one of the most honest and FUN movie evr made..go c it, it ll not dissapoint. Ironically u see a... https://t.co/j1V1Omz1Pj

thearavinds: Watched UDTA PUNJAB. Important movie.Lots of drama,pathos and what not.Serious subject crudely handled.Not good cinema.But a must watch

TanuJatin: Udta punjab ..good movie..everyone must watch..!!

tabassum_b: Just three words: Watch Udta Punjab.

SoKneeOh: Udta Punjab was actually pretty damn good. Everyone fit just perfectly. I have no complaints.

Shanavbarca: On Wednesday at this very time, I thought everything was over. I forgot how powerful a brilliant movie can be. UNSTOPPABLE UDTA PUNJAB

SatanicPope: Udta Punjab was dark and hard hitting.

ruchikabillo: Udta Punjab. Wow.

RishiCh04322561: Awsome movie udta punjab must watch.


Radheism10: Watched Udta Punjab. Movie didn't disappoint at all. Just loved it. You can experience all sorts of emotions and feels in one movie.

Piyush_dube: Drugs Di maa Di Udta Punjab awesome movie #UdtaPunjab

NashiliAnkhein: Udta Punjab was nice

Madhu03_: Udta Punjab exposes the Political nexus with Drug mafias. A must watch movie. https://t.co/6OrRlUYhDe

ifanshahidkaday: Film Review: Shahid's Udta Punjab delivers a hard-hitting dose of cinematic brilliance!... https://t.co/uPPZsqFLxA


hershkinnu: A battle against censorship was never fought like this before # Udta Punjab # must watch frnds

FreelyChained: Udta Punjab is a fantastic movie & should be seen at theaters. So full of content & provoking. Great work by @aliaa08 & @shahidkapoor.

dhillon_satti: Loved Udta Punjab movie,I have seen actually much more than this in Punjab, drugs r openly available to ruin young generation beyond control

DEEPMANAS02: Udta punjab ich reality dikhayi gayi hain. Saada veera @diljitdosanjh di gal sun lo saare! https://t.co/iouLsw99WB

DashYourHopes: Entertaining, awesome and trippy, #UdtaPunjab is a triumph for cinema, censorship, and audiences. ☺

ChinmayNakhwa: #UdtaPunjab nothing but a must watch. https://t.co/tUnfkSBzFi

asal_pradhan: Udta Punjab is awesome movie

518292dcef304a3: Super movie # udta punjab.

sharma_ji93: Udta Punjab average 'Commercial' movie , good dialogues, boring second half ,too much politicisation by CBFC & Aap https://t.co/BIFOY0jUh7

violethiggins25: Censor controversy aside, Udta Punjab is a poorly edited bad film.

MajesticSamir: Udta Punjab not good enough infact execution of the puri film sabse kharaab hai.

3 readers - 2 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Not Interested in Watching, by Fan

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Anup : Among the Best of This Year

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Suman

So-So, by Anuj

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

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):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Udta Punjab - Cast, crew, links

Supporting Cast:
Running time:
150 minutes

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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