‘Udta Punjab’ is a story of how drugs are quietly destroying the future of many Indian young people. Director and co-writer Abhishek Chaubey uses his film as a wakeup call for those that are unaware of the problem within their own country. He uses four people living in Punjab and touched by the drug lifestyle to tell his story.
Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), is a popular rock icon in his state. His songs glorify drug use and partying. His fans love him. Friends make sure he has a limitless supply of cocaine to keep his creative juices running. Everyone, including his father, want the cash to keep pouring in. But,Tommy is so addicted that he starts to unravel. Bizarre behavior lands him in jail where he suffers withdrawal alone.
His cell mates include two brothers who are fans. They became addicted, stole money from their mother, and killed her when she tried to stop them. Horrified, Tommy realizes the influence of his own music. He wants to stop. At his next concert, he tries to talk with his young audience about drug use. He finds out that its all about the drug lifestyle. His fans don’t care about him, they like his music to get high to.
Pinky (Alia Bhatt) is a Bihari village girl who travels to Punjab looking for farm work. One night, she is standing in a field near the Pakistani border, when she finds a package of heroin. Realizing what it is, she decides to see if she can sell it herself and make a little money. When the real owners show up, they decide to teach her a lesson. They imprison her, control her with heroin, and use her as a sex slave. Drawing on her inner strength and resourcefulness, Pinky doesn’t give in to hopelessness.
Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is a Punjabi policeman. At first, he doesn’t care about the drug dealing going on in his town. In fact, he accepts bribes to look the other way. Then, Sartaj’s younger brother overdoses on drugs. In the hospital, Sartaj meets Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor Khan). Preet is a compassionate physician. She operates a drug clinic, but the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. Sartaj and Preet join forces to work against the drug lords.
Shahid Kapoor is a fearless actor. Shahid, who doesn’t drink or do drugs, was able to catch the craziness of a rock idol on drugs. He was funny, charismatic, pathetic, vacant, goofy, mad and hopeless. Alia Bhatt is such a surprising young actress. Only twenty-three, she is so versatile. Alia nailed it as a field worker surviving as best she can. She shows no glamour here, she wears no make-up, and the sun has darkened her skin. She was convincingly used, abused and high on drugs.
Diljit Dosanjh (Sartaj), is a Punjabi actor. ‘Udta Punjab’ is his first Hindi movie. Realizing his brother’s problem and his own part in the drug trade, Diljit has a quiet change of heart that is the moral center of the film. Kareena Kapoor is always a pleasure to watch. She is professional and competent as the caring doctor.
We see people who are leaders in society profiting from the misery of their youth. Officials who are sworn to uphold the law, break it. It is the corruption of the very soul of the state. No item numbers or unnecessary violence in ‘Udta Punjab’, but occasionally it does have some out of place, filmy bit. ‘Udta Punjab’ is not a family film. It has lots of the ‘f’ word, and graphic drug use. It is a film for adults on a subject that can only be ignored at our peril.