Udta Punjab Review by Indicine
Abhishek Chaubey has masterfully addressed the menace of drugs in Punjab with a sense of realism and urgency that has never been achieved in a mainstream form. His victory lies in the fact that he manages to show us a world which we are not used to seeing, but keeps it entertaining throughout. That’s how a good director takes a good story in the written form to a good movie in the cinematic form. The screenplay does get a big prosaic in the second half, but by then all is forgiven as Abhishek has already managed to win us over by then. Another one of Udta Punjab’s victories is how the story seems rooted to the ground because it is so well brought together by all the departments. The production design and the costume design get full marks for their consistency and effort. The editing is quite fast, moves along really well and makes the film a brisk ride. The music by Amit Trivedi suits the nature of the film. The title song, Ik Kudi, Da Da Dasse all take the film to the next juncture without making the songs seem unnecessary.
Udta Punjab Review by Bollywood Hungama
First things first – UDTA PUNJAB is a dark and serious film. Also the film’s screenplay (Sudip Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey) jumps through multiple stories at the same time making it complicated. Abhishek Chaubey, who gave a glimpse of his supreme directorial abilities with his previous films like ISHQIYA and DEDH ISHQIYA faces a challenge to narrate the dark story of UDTA PUNJAB and does manage to do so. As the film progresses however, it does seem to slip in parts, especially in the second half. In an attempt to narrate multiple parallel stories, Abhishek Chaubey struggles to keep it engaging in the latter half of the film. As for the performances, it is the biggest of USP of UDTA PUNJAB. One has to give it to the actors to take up such challenging parts which are completely out of their comfort zone. Shahid Kapoor and his never-before-attempted ‘rockstar’ look had created a huge buzz, curiosity and excitement amongst his fans. He manages to pull off his role well while bringing in much needed humour in this otherwise serious film. He is strongly supported by the talented Satish Kaushik in the film. Alia Bhatt, on the other hand, goes totally de-glam for her role. She for sure has tried her best to portray a Bihari character in the film and does complete justice to her part. Kareena Kapoor Khan is good in her part. UDTA PUNJAB also sees the presence of Punjabi star Diljit Dosanjh, who makes an impressive debut in Bollywood. If UDTA PUNJAB is a mere glimpse of what he is capable of, then Diljit is definitely a name to watch out for in Bollywood. Rest of the actors help the film move forward.
Udta Punjab Review by Sreeju Sudhakaran on Bollywood Life
While the first half is nearly spot on, the second half meanders here and there thanks to a few forced romantic subplots. There is a lot of lagging in these portions, and whenever the film switches from Shahid – Alia’s track to Diljit – Kareena’s, the result is very clunky to watch. This makes us feel that if these tracks have been made into separate films it would have worked better. Tommy Singh’s reasons for redemption and later his intent to save Alia’s character may look reasonable but is not very convincing. Unlike Chaubey’s more brilliant but very under-rated Dedh Ishqiya, the director is not able to balance the black comedy of the writing to the dark themes in the film this time. This is especially obvious in the climax, which is the weakest sequence in the film. Kareena’s character doesn’t have a definitive arc unlike the other three protagonists, though she does provide the catalyst to the finale.
Udta Punjab Review by Manjusha Radhakrishnan on Gulfnews
Credit is due to Chaubey for taking a grim subject and making it interesting. There are a few dull moments in the second half, but the climax packs a punch. The way the worlds of a cop, a heroin addict, a rock star and a doctor intersect is cleverly shown. Be sure to give Udta Punjab a shot.
Udta Punjab Review by Lokesh Dharmani on Masala
The performances of Udta Punjab are equally brilliant. Shahid and Alia anyway play characters with unique quirks. There is a lot to play with and they both do a decent job. It’s funny how dumb Alia jokes went viral where as she is the brightest, the smartest girl amongst the young crop of actors. Her film choices are proof enough of her intelligence. It takes a great deal of courage to pick a role like this and an equal deal of talent to pull it off. There is one particular scene where she reveals her story. I felt her pain. She is brilliant. Kareena Kapoor Khan is efficient except strangely Geet from Jab We Met keeps popping up every now and then in an otherwise consistently good performance. Diljit Dosanjh nails it in his debut. He gives such a balanced performance, feeling just the right amount of romance or grief, never dramatising it, never overdoing it.
Udta Punjab Review by Meena Iyer on The 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. However, its victory lies in making you empathise with its characters. As Alia and Shahid, both victims of drug and physical abuse fight their demons and destinies, you shed a silent tear. Shahid has got his act pat but Alia beats everyone hollow. Kareena and Diljit are adept. This review also doffs a hat to the nuanced performances of Satish Kaushik, Prabhjyot Singh and Manav Vij.
Udta Punjab Review by Raja Sen on Rediff
The film is trying to open our eyes to the drug menace, but the first half of the film seems confused about where it is pitched — dark comedy or preachy drama — and, as a result, feels a bit long in the tooth. It doesn’t help that the editing appears too abrupt: We cut from scene to scene (from a packet of brown sugar tossed in the air to a cleaver coming down to chop meat for a quirkily named dog) too rapidly, almost as if the filmmakers self-consciously want to rush through these uneven bits. It is in the second half, after the preachiness has made way for plot, that Chaubey’s finesse comes to the fore and the film gleams with originality. The leaps forward are unexpected, the narrative choices brave, and the detailing exquisite.
Review by Jaidev Hemmady on Movietalkies
Moreover, the second half stretches on and on and one wishes the makers could have done some sharp editing to keep the narrative in check. Shahid Kapoor has played the quirky Tommy quite well, but he does tend to get carried away at times. However, one cannot deny that it is indeed entertaining to watch his antics. Kareena doesn’t lend depth to her character, though she is a good actress and had got a meaty role she could have done wonders with. Diljit, who makes his Bollywood debut with this film, impresses with his restrained performance as the cop facing a moral dilemma while Alia Bhatt, who has always played the modern urban girl, simply wows you with her role as the Bihari migrant and comes up with a heart-breaking performance. The supporting actors, like Satish Kaushik and Manav Vij, who plays Sartaj’s elder brother, have done great work in their short roles.
Review by Mehul S Thakkar on Deccan Chronicle
Abhishek’s arresting narrative that ties Punjab’s drug crisis with its politics, gives enough space to all the characters to grow on you. A very smooth and engaging screenplay by Sudip Sharma ensures there is never a dull moment in a film that runs for around 2 hour 20 minutes. Abhishek flawlessly brings out the best in his leading cast by pulling them out of their comfort zones. Shahid breaks all barriers in bringing a drug-induced rockstar to life. Kareena delivers a strong and hard hitting performance with such ease. Although this is Diljit’s first Hindi film, his sincere performance will strike a chord. Alia Bhatt comes out in flying colours with her perfect Bihari accent and a performance that will leave you in tears.
Review by Sarita A Tanwar on DNA India
Udta Punjab, with all the hype, could’ve been the true crossover film. It falters big time because it leaves you feeling unfulfilled with a tepid screenplay. And that is why none of the things that the director tries to shock you with (expletives, references, crudity et al) create any impact. After the first 30 minutes, the boredom sets in already. When the film’s first half ends, you expect something new coming up. But nothing happens. Like most directors of this specific genre, Chaubey also succumbs to creative indulgences at the cost of the film. The excessive use of Punjabi language will alienate those who don’t speak the language. The biggest disappointment is that the character fail to connect. Tommy Singh ends up being a caricature. Sartaj Singh and Preet remain one-dimensional. And her own performance restricts Alia Bhatt’s Bihari girl act. Despite the grimy appearance and the continuous usage of cusswords, Alia fails to breathe into her character. Even her breakdown scene (as if added for impact) cannot save the awkwardness. That’s what one can say about the entire film actually – it just tries too hard.
Review by Shubha Shetty Saha on Mid-Day India
Shahid Kapoor has proved his mettle earlier but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call this his best performance till date. A badass with a good heart, Shahid plays this complex character with an admirable ease. From someone who foolishly thinks he conquers the world to a frightful realisation of the truth, he goes through a transformation with an absolute conviction. Diljit’s charm is used to the fullest here, and he does a good job. Even though Kareena Kapoor Khan doesn’t get as much screen space as one would have liked, she leaves her stamp with her honest and natural performance. 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.
Review by Vishal Verma on Glamsham
Strangely, UDTA PUNJAB offered better opportunity in its premise to motivate the director spread its reach as drugs is a big problem but Abhishek fails to capitalize on it. The self indulgence of black humour and influence of Anurag Kashyap in adding radical quotient is clearly visible. The romanticisms between Shahid and Alia is completely unconvincing and the black humour inspired ending fails to add the required jolt. The makers try to cover it with a feel good softness just before the end credits but that’s not enough.
Review by Rohit Vats on Hindustan Times
What begins as a satirical retort to Punjab’s social situation slowly turns into a thriller. Tommy and his gang’s antics amuse and ease us into this darker zone. He can’t control his actions. In fact, he is long past that now. He is only a mocking representation of our transformed musical sensibilities. You hesitate to laugh when he blames his fans for taking his verbal diarrhea as creativity. Every bit of a cynical singing sensation, Shahid Kapoor is a treat to watch. Alia Bhatt, the show stealer, carries no baggage and delivers the performance of a life time. From accent to body language, she has got almost all of it right. Diljit Dosanjh is nuanced and likeable and carries his questionable morality with ease. Satish Kaushik deserves a special mention here. As Tommy’s manager, he knows how to ace the game. Witty and humorous, Udta Punjab works mostly because of its tone and stand against drugs, though the second half is no match for the first. Sometimes though, it appears like an opportunity lost as the narrative keeps dragging in search of closure.
Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
A bit of laxness comes from Shahid’s Tommy, who looks just perfect for his part — the strutting and the thrusting on stage, the tangled hair, the constant flashing of the V sign, the self-absorption are done just right. It’s what goes on inside of him that we don’t really see enough of, and what there is, is more tell than show — he should have been written better. He does have a few terrific scenes, though, and proves that he has a great line in swearing. But the two actors who make this thing sing are Diljit and Alia. The former, a huge star in Punjab making his Bollywood debut here, is very good. He adds enormously to the authenticity and heft of the film. The latter falters a little with her Bihari accent, but the way she channels the pain and the incredible strength of a young woman stuck in a terrible place, is searing. She soars.
Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
At two-and-a-half hours, Udta Punjab is an overlong film, but almost every scene, jointly written by Sudip Sharma and director Abhishek Chaubey, demands attention and propels the story forward. The dialogues, mostly in Punjabi (written by Sudip Sharma), are earthy and rooted in the soil, which augments the authenticity of the story and the characters that people it.
Review by Devarsi Ghosh on India Today
Kudos to the bravehearts at Phantom and Balaji who have made Udta Punjab possible. Udta Punjab is both an entertaining film (though one would be reluctant to admit that he/she was entertained by the relentless tragedy on screen) and an effective one. If starting a popular and public discourse about the Punjab drug menace was the objective of director Abhishek Chaubey and writer Sudip Sharma (whose crackling, detail-heavy screenplay brings to mind Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana script which explored the America and Middle east’s geopolitics surrounding oil), then they have been very, very successful.
Review by Rajeev Masand on News18
The film is also elevated by its terrific performances, especially from Alia Bhatt, who pours desperation, innocence and ultimately strength into her character. She blows you away with her acting. The surprise package is Punjabi star Diljit Dosanjh, who has undeniable presence, and a sincerity that makes you root for his character. In addition, he brings an authenticity to the film. The tentative chemistry he shares with Kareena Kapoor is particularly charming, and it’s a sheer joy to watch the actress sink her teeth into a role that does justice to her talent. It’s not a showy part, but Kareena brings Preet to life with her easy, natural performance. Shahid Kapoor, meanwhile, although perfectly cast as the self-absorbed, swaggering rockstar, plays the part a little too on-the-nose. He plays Tommy for laughs mostly, and nails those bits. But you wish he’d give us a deeper sense of the emptiness gnawing away at his insides. Nevertheless, Tommy and his entourage, including a terrific Satish Kaushik as his manager-uncle, keep the absurd humor coming. A scene in which his hangers-on forget to bring him his Diet Coke is laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
Conversely, for all its aspirations towards hip-dom, the film takes a preachy stance in repeatedly conveying the debilitating life of addicts. It adopts a Films Division documentary approach in a tedious sequence that explains the supply chain operation of various drugs. A scene in the film epitomises the experience of watching it: in attempting to escape, Alia Bhatt’s character pulls a blanket over her assailant’s face and in a continuous thumping motion stabs him in his face. Yes, we have watched Trainspotting, but can’t spot the sense in enduring this derivative trainwreck.
Review by Sonia Chopra on Sify
Since the film essentially showcases how subtly and effectively drugs destruct people and families, you wonder what was making the CBFC so antsy and uncomfortable. I’ve yet to see a better film about the topic. 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?
Udta Punjab Review by Indiaglitz
‘Udta Punjab’ is much above all the controversies and hypes. It’s a must watch for all those who love hard-hitting realistic type of films. The length might end up being a party popper along with the over usage of Punjabi language, but besides that there is a lot more to see and cherish in this film.
Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
The violence in the words may not be what the big city coffee shop crowd tweets about, but then the big city coffee shop crowds are also dealing with uber urban recreational drugs. The story is the same. The vituperative language is so natural, you know the expletives belong there. They have not been added to make silly women giggle and go, ‘Haw!’ The movie is so claustrophobic at times, you begin to look at the Goa billboard with the same need for release. The events that hasten the end even I couldn’t have predicted. And when the credits roll, you begin to breathe.
Review by Subhash K Jha on Bollyspice
Udta Punjab is replete with encounters where strangers meet and strike up a rapport that changes their lives. Understandably this is a film that changes the audiences’ life too. No sensitive rational viewer can come away from this experience without in some way feeling transformed. Feral Frenetic, riveting, hypnotic, hallucinogenic and altogether incredible we’ve never seen anything quite like Udta Punjab before.
Review by Dhriti Sharma on Zeenews
‘Udta Punjab’ lay bare the peril so monstrous, for all to ponder upon and open their half shut eyes and kick drugs’ butt. Lead performances will give you goosebumps and keep you wanting for more, only to complement further, supporting actor Satish Kaushik has yet again proved his talent through his on-screen character. ‘Udta Punjab’ is not hypothetical, fiction or a far sighted imagination, it is the root of our society that is flaring up and blazing into flames to kill itself and the surroundings with large diameters. Instead of being the pigeon with shut eyes thinking the cat won’t eat him, time calls for a roaring unison to recognise and burn down to earth, the ‘rotten future’ gifted by drugs.
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