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.

Few years ago, some time ago, we lived in different world. Today, we have evolved and separated ourselves from the advent of community jargon and have become ‘Global’. But the statement still hovers around like a hawk in an air of turbulence. Did we really accomplish the need or merely created another need out of a cucumber?

The world believed we became stronger after 9/11, but we also became a tad poorer and weaker in terms of adaptability and susceptibility. We also entered in to a new era where started judging people and their acquaintances by their names.
What’s a name – it is our identity, not a reflection of our abilities to make or remake. Nor does a name indicate plagiarism. But it was deemed as ‘fatal’, a name convulsed in to a benchmark for a religion and we started to crucify the guilt within ourselves.

Yes, the world changed. But the attitude and our behavior towards the human kind turned ugly and degraded. Before, we had inhibitions but were conducive. After, our intolerance towards a specific community has taken an unsurmountable leap towards de-manifestation of the human clan.
Yet, we have evolved as human beings. Yes, derogatory but precariously acceptable.

Citizens became traitors, names were objects to decipher identity, our brothers and sisters became ‘Jihadis’, and suddenly, our world became a religious cocoon under the scanner for dastardly acts of few unscrupulous, spineless people who take shelter under violence and cowardice to prove a point that embellishes all logic and purpose.
Yet, we are evolving and surviving.

There is no end to this apocalypse though. Crucification has only led to more indispensable powers and evil vibes. 9/11 has given rise to a plethora of demons that have emerged, submerged and reemerged since last 15 years, and the disaster recovery continues to struggle against audacity and ruthlessness. Above all, some excruciating powers inflicting pain and misery upon the lives of innocents is our bane for sheer existence.

I am certain, we are evolving amidst chaos.

I am not a political aficionado though am raised in 2 states that are considered to be the feather-bed for political potboilers. Yes, my affiliations are random and anything intriguingly watchable is my forte. But, if it’s about Jayalalithaa, then I will have the Pandora’s box open for numerous anecdotes.

Jayalalithaa was a combination of enigmatic qualities – talent, charismatic, gutsy, controversy child, courageous administrator, a power hungry leader who is obstinate, eccentric and autocratic. Yet, the love and respect that accentuated from people of Tamil Nadu clearly made a statement – she was the powerhouse behind AIADMK’s routing success amidst titanic rivalry.

The most impressive strata of Jayalalithaa’s resume was her impeccable transition from films to politics. Yes, she was a MGR protege all through but to have held her own in a man’s world amidst eyes of vengeance and ceasefire is a testimony to her character. After MGR’s death, Jayalalithaa and AIADMK were orphaned. The future looked bleak especially since the party divided between MGR’s family and Jayalalithaa. Stories of how she withered away a hostile AIADMK after MGR’s demise is a story to be read and told. The resolute and adamant could only have seen the storm off, and Jayalalithaa stood tall. She made AIADMK a force to reckon, with pleasant and unpleasant notes across acute political waters.

Jayalalithaa’s political avatar was no less animated and was plenty of drama. Tamil Nadu’s legacy of tentacle politics plus Jayalalithaa’s debonair made the cat fight even more interesting. She had her ups and downs but adjacently, her popularity soared.

A top notch actress in 60s and 70s, 28 films with the mercurial MGR and his greatest protege (personal and professional), heralded AIADMK flag after MGR’s unceremonious death, 6 terms as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, jailed for corruption and propaganda of wealth, her addictive and curious relationship with Sasikala Natarajan, spitting venom with DMK chieftain M Karunanidhi, undisputed political aura that eclipses a failed personal life, a lady of a single mind and self possessed persona. And, remember – her last successive victory in 2016 (first ever by AIADMK since MGR in 1984) just established her as the greatest messiah of the AIADMK clan.

My most visible moment of Jayalalithaa was her BBC interview with Karan Thapar. She battled fire with fire, provocative questions were brutally shot back, allegations were retorted with data and personal questions were dodged skillfully. “Chief Minister, it was a pleasure speaking to you today”, quipped Karan Thapar, extending himself to shake hands. “It was not a pleasure speaking to you today. Namaste”, Jayalalithaa responded.

Life moves on and so will AIADMK. There will be ruffled feathers but someone will take over the mantle albeit chaos. But the big shoes of Jayalalithaa will never be filled. And perhaps, AIADMK will miss the audacity of Amma.