India is cursed with its drug chaos, a ubiquitous issue plaguing nations worldwide. “Udta Punjab” is a serious, if at times sensational, depiction of the epidemic, its victims, perpetrators and the pervasiveness of this evil “weapon of mass destruction”.
Director Abhishek Chaubey has culled a superior cast to portray fictional characters in a realistic setting: Shahid Kapoor is “Tommy Singh”, a wildly manic rock and roll idol, whose every breath and hymn are informed by the powdery poison; watching his slippage into the sickest state of moral turpitude is unnerving; Kareena Kapoor Khan is “Dr. Preet Shahani” running a clinic trying to salvage those imprisoned by their addiction; Diljit Dosanji is remarkable as “Asi”, a minor policeman whose brother is a patient of Dr. Shahani, the narrative smoothly addresses their eventual connection, professionally and personally. The major force in the film and a primary reason it will resonate with audiences is the performance of Alia Bhatt as migrant worker “Kumari Pinky”, whose transgressions lead to her involuntary addiction to heroin; her fierceness, ingenuity, sagacity as a manipulated, manhandled maiden lend colossal strength to the scenario.
Upside- down, chaotic Punjab strips bare the insidious, amoral behavior of politicians, policemen and those whose responsibilities should focus on the protection of the masses instead of gifting heinous doses of putrid, malevolent muck, guaranteed to assassinate individuality, entrepreneurship, life.