Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Udta Punjab: The BitterSweet release

For quite some time now, all that any Indian resident would have found on the front page of the newspapers and flashing as breaking news in the T.V. would be the controversy surrounding the release of Udta Punjab. The film finally hit the theatres and it was worth all the controversy. Tommy Singh, a.k.a Shahid Kapoor is an enigma and the perfect portrayal of young blood. True to its name translating to “Flying Punjab” the film takes a shot at the menace that is plaguing Punjab. According to recent surveys, among the 46,923 drug addicts in India 14,483 hails from Punjab. This is a sad plight for the land of five rivers. Once the very best, the state now finds itself on a downhill. The film sheds light on these issues and the local bodies rather sit around and criticize the film, they should wake up and be aware of the real danger.

June 13, 2016, was a milestone in the annals of the Indian Film Industry. The court granted permission for the film to be released, provided the deletion of the urination scene. What actually happened here was that the creative freedom was unnecessarily curbed and the freedom of speech and thought was not being provided. The conclusions to which the Supreme Court came to is worth mentioning:

  1. Filmmakers don’t support drugs.
  2. Characters show facets of menace.
  3. No reason to delete Punjab from sign board.
  4. Drugs availability highlighted.
  5. The downfall of a rock star depicted.
  6. Cops struggling with drug menace.
  7. CBFC not empowered by law to censor films as the word censor is not included in the Cinematograph Act.

The very fact that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked for 89 cuts is blasphemous. It would have been a shame if the film was allowed to run in the theatres because the story is gripping and so are the actors. All four of them are impossible to impede. Also contrary to popular belief this isn’t your average political film which lashes out at the government or takes a satirical stand against it. This is a truly meaningful film, focussing on internal conflicts, real life problems, and the characters.

The intentions of the filmmakers were pure. Shahid had expressed his anguish regarding the trial.
We live in the age of information and technology. Our generation and youth have the right to be informed. If they are not getting informed, then there is a problem. Youth has the right to know drugs are a menace. They have a right to know what can happen if they get into it whether it is the youth of Punjab, Maharashtra or whole of India. We have to support the message delivered in the film. This film has become the face of a fight that has been going on for long. Let’s stick to what our country stands for and what everybody is trying to fight for.
Obviously, we won’t go into details about the film because that would be spoilers about a film worth watching. But rest assured it will be money well spent. Even though the first half may seem lackluster it is actually a strong and solid build up for the second half. The music is heavenly and trendy. The characters suit the actors. Alia is developing as a versatile actress and this is just another feather in her cap and a true testimonial of her acting credentials. Shahid has always been one to take up a challenge and as usual, he is a delight to watch, the bad boy character suiting him perfectly. Kareena and Sartaj too come up good. Though the number of scenes cut from the film was reduced to 1 from 89 the CBFC felt the need to add more oil to this raging flame as someone within the organization leaked the uncensored version via torrent the day before the official release.

In spite of all the hard times it went through, the film has bravely and successfully navigated the rough seas and we are delighted it did. Let’s hope that this was a new era in the India Film Industry and such stupid and pointless controversies will never surface again.  India has always been a diverse country and let us bring about that diversity into our films.

Udta Punjab! Chak de India!

Written by Joseph Thachil
Valar morghulis! Valar Dohaeris!

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