At a time of floundering commercial cinema making the means out of creativity, films like ‘Udta Punjab’ come as a neat surprise. Overwhelming, I would say. Scary and blemish-less.
‘Udta Punjab’ comes from the stable of Phantom films, and no prizes for guessing the creative minds behind the making of this dark, raunchy, spine chilling saga of the drug menace that has consumed an entire state.
‘Udta Punjab’ is the Punjab you and I will never dare to visit. It is the Punjab of our nightmares, the insanity behind the tradition of a beautiful state that it upholds in the eyes of public media.
If you grossly remember history, Punjab has been the eye of the storm in the past. Be it during the emergency in 70s or the infamous ‘Operation Blue Star’, Punjab has been a tepid travesty. Substance abuse is just another blip in a sea of huge political quick sand.
Coming back to the film, the narrative and cast is exemplary. In fact, I don’t think anyone else could have filled the shoes of Tommy Singh and Mary Jane other than Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Shahid is a brilliant artist and UP is another cap is his illustrious feather. Alia Bhatt has shown glimpses worthy enough of being spoken in the same breath as her father. The scene wherein she helplessly emotes and divulges her agony to an equally ravaged Tommy Singh is a paranoid stealer. One heck of a scene it is, I would say one of it’s kind in Indian cinema.
Kareena Kapoor has very little to do in this crime drama but holds her space in a well deserved cameo. The way she is killed by Balli while trying to stop him from fleeing her rehab is well shot. In fact, am equally fond of the scene where 2 youngsters claim to be Tommy’ fan and signify their inspiration by falling prey to drugs. It’s a pitiably powerful seen that even jolted the conscience of a stray celebrity like Tommy Singh.
Though it’s a Phantom production and inevitable names will have their classic intervention. But Abhishek Chaubey has been impressive. I did not see anything debonair from him since Ishqiya (not the sequel please) but Udta Punjab certainly brings him back in style.
‘Udta Punjab’ has an uncanny resemblance to one of my all time adorable favorites, ‘Goodfellas’. Don’t jump the gun yet, no pun intended but it isn’t a straight shot unless you know what I am talking about.
We all savour that moment in our life and perhaps wait for eternity to get a glimpse – a clean, effortless, magical straight drive. And then, welcome to reality. Still, life looks beautiful. Sober, pleasing and more relished. If we could have the content inside us to draw saturation points, our lives will never need filters.
There are human beings with talent and proficiency, there are ordinary individuals who come out of their inhibitions and limitations to carve a niche for themselves in the tough gritty world of glorious pursuits. And then, we have actors like Om Puri.
Rugged face, turmoil expressions and a non fancy appeal. Yet, what stood behind was one of the finest that we could ever withdraw from. At a time when we shied away from what was called as ‘Parallel Cinema’, Om Puri made his mark with some iconic acts in films like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya. The latter, was a film ahead of its time. Attacking our system embroiled in corruption, bureaucracy and nepotism, Ardh Satya had some powerful performances from its lead actors – Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapukur. in fact, Om Puri had some memorable outings with landmark directors like Govind Nihalani and Satyajit Ray. Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a film acknowledged as one of its kind that enjoys cult status today. In fact, associated actors with JBDY look at awe when this film features in the classic bandwagon. Om Puri played a typical modern opportunist and excelled in a small but crucial role. Another Nihalani favourite is Drohkaal, which saw Om Puri playing a cop who infiltrates with his team in to the web of a dangerous terrorist organisation. Nothing glamorous but Om Puri was a class apart.
Our generation has seen very little of Om Puri, which is quite unfortunate. His characters depicted on screen swayed magic and while our character actors always tend to get overshadowed in an industry that’s ruled by Superstars, actors like Om Puri held their own despite very little going for them in terms of roles, weightage and attention. Post 90s, he was one of the very few to cross boundaries juggle between Mumbai and the west in versatile and unconventional avatars. Interestingly, films like Ghayal, Chachi 420, Hera Pheri and Gupt made us realise how we bracketed and dumped a top notch mainstream actor in to a shell of meagre opportunities and ventures.
The world of cinema will not come to a standstill albeit outpourings of condolences but the industry just became poorer with the loss of a titan like Om Puri.
I don’t think we have control over a water source, its tributaries or the destination where its lands up irrespective of geography or demography of a specific landscape. I think so, well, am quite certain. But millions including our governments don’t seem to get this on table. And, a conflict that rues over 100 plus years is a testimony to our stark failures in dealing with national issues. I simply think we are not courageous enough to deal with issues of impending realities and our inabilities to have a vision that is disintegrated in the hands of nepotism and conniving leaders.
Honestly, the crop of administrators and governments were not even born when the agreement between 2 states (can’t really condemn the term ‘state’ today) has perpetuated to a conflict of a massive burnout that’s lasted for more than a century. And, remember, our worst nightmares are yet to follow suit.
In a sub continent raven by diversities and anomalies, we are still fighting over political gains and trilingual modes of treason. We have states where governments cannot talk to each other over an issue that has plagued a landscape over 120 years and this gets escalated to PM’s table for a peace treaty and another long, vain, mutilated conversation that will lead to another 50 years of negotiation.
We want justice, we condemn our laws, we hate violence but love propagating it. We have problems, we love solutions but prefer to keep them away in barracks till mayhem strikes at your door for annihilation.
This isn’t a thorn in our flesh, we have beaten our flesh black blue to let the throne rule and bring the demons over to rule the roost.
Independence in real sense – devoid of ego, conditional acceptance, broader visibility of thoughts, attitude out of vehemence, abolish imminent taboos, respect for individual sans caste creed and religion. Indeed, happy independence.
One of my most worshipped places. The goddess of ultimate victory, the sound of lashing waves through the holy Ganga, the colossal view of Bally, the shrine where the famous dialogue took place, perhaps a monologue of a saint is the brimming moment of truth.