Udta Punjab

Vampire Owl: I know a few humans who thought that they would never get to watch this movie.

Vampire Bat: There are humans who think that they will never get to see a vampire, but here we are, able to appear whenever we wish to.

Vampire Owl: I heard that they had a problem with censor board.

Vampire Bat: We should be thankful that the movies about the great deeds of Uncle Dracula are not given to them for certification.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the great imperial vampire video was uncensored?

Vampire Bat: Yes, you easily get that from the violence.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that it is violence – what you see in the video feels rather natural than anything else.

Vampire Bat: It is more natural to humans than us, but they censor it, you know.

Vampire Owl: They are so afraid of the inherent evil in them.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and they blame everyone other than them for the same.

[Gets three cups of English tea with special snacks].

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the tale of four people people in the state of Punjab, a Punjabi musician named Tejinder Singh (Shahid Kapoor), an unnamed Bihari migrant working at a farm known only by the name Bauria (Alia Bhatt), an inspector in the Punjab police department named Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), and a doctor who is also a social activist named Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor), whose lives get connected to each other due to the smuggling of drugs into the state. Sartaj’s brother Balli Singh (Prabhjyot Singh) is one of those drug addicts who ends up in the hospital, and it turns out that the police officer had almost no idea about his brother using drugs. He is treated by Preet who hopes to bring him back to normal life, through her rehabilitation cenre. At the same time, she tells Sartaj that the drug menace has become too much and the police department is not taking action about the same.

So, what happens next? :: As Sartaj decides to get deep into the drug problem, Tejinder, who is known by the name Tommy Singh, and as Gabru among his fans, is leading a rather clueless life outside the world of music. Throwing parties all the time, and keeping on consuming cocaine, he has no control over his life. His fans are not that different either, as they follow his example, having no responsibility, and trying to be like him. As Tommy takes this troubled path, he ends up in jail, and there he meets his fans inspired by him ending up in prison just like him. Sartaj is also the one to arrest Tommy, and is influenced by Preet to do something against the drug problem which threatens to turn the state into a situation similar to Mexico. He decides that it is time that he does something about this problem against which nobody even dares to talk or take action.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: As this girl known by the name Bauria wanders around in the farm where she is working, she ends up finding a packet. She understands that it is some kind of drug, as her landlord uses agriculture to hide his dealing with drugs. The girl, who had her dreams of playing national level hockey for the nation shattered, decides to sell this, and get some money. But she doesn’t know trouble she is getting herself into, as she is captured by a gang of drug dealers who sexually abuse her, and keep her locked in their farmhouse. It is then that a reformed Tommy decides to take responsibility to change the world, and Sartaj as well as Preet gets further in gathering information about the drug problem and the people behind the same. But with so many powerful people including police and politicians having their hands in the same, can anyone bring a change?

The defence of Udta Punjab :: There is sincerity about this movie, and we are put face to face against an evil which needs to be stopped as soon as possible. The best thing about the movie is that it never glorifies drug abuse – there was the movie Spirit against alcohol, which began with the glorification of the same only to end up with a message against the same as it strived towards the finish. But Udta Punjab begins and ends with the same idea shown on the screen, and chooses the right path. At the same time, we once again notice that it is Alia Bhatt who steals the show with that kind of a character which is to stay with us for long, unlike what she has been doing with ridiculous romantic flicks like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya and Shaandar, or some half-cooked story like Dear Zindagi. Here she scores by playing the role of a commoner going through the struggle, and we know how good she can be, from Highway. Shahid Kapoor, at the same time, seems to live in this role, which is too good to watch. Diljit Dosanjh, whom most of us are seeing for the first time on the screen, has a controlled and memorable performance in store for us here. Kareena Kapoor, compared to the rest, has lesser to do, but remains the big presence.

The claws of flaw :: You will feel that the movie does go too slow in the middle, and it also takes a little too much in the beginning to get going, having you as a doubtful one in the beginning. The movie could have used its tale in a more effective way so that nothing is lost in the middle. There is rather too much of ups and downs in this movie, which could have kept itself at a certain level instead of coming down when not expected. A lot of people are also going to feel the essence of a documentary in this one, as there are no real heroes in this one, but common people who struggle against an evil which threatens to destroy our world – not really the usual Bollywood-ish kind of thing, is it? Well, it also seems to be forced to add a little bit of a romantic side to its main characters, and maybe the inspiration for the same is nothing more than knowing that we still have the Bollywood fans to please and gather support so that the one hundred crore mark could be reached. The seemingly funny side is also as a little bit too strange at times to be called funny.

How it finishes :: Udta Punjab is the movie that you can’t ignore, no matter what you think about it – it is also difficult to end up not appreciating this effort which seems so genuine right from the beginning itself. There is a certain amount of honesty here that we will end up appreciating – even when there is chance, the movie doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. It is surely a lesson, something for the new generation who is taking the easy path out with alcohol and drugs; the question will be whether they will learn enough from the movie to stop being addicted or if they will continue to fall into addiction. No matter what the youth decides, it is up to everyone to unite against the drug menace, and also spread the word against this kind of silent terror which has more strength than any direct act of terrorism to destroy our world as well as what goes beyond the same.

PS: Do watch the movie of the week, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.

Release date: 17th June 2016
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Satish Kaushik, Suhail Nayyar, Prabhjyot Singh, Harpreet Singh, Manav Vij, Avinash Kumar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phata Poster Nikla Hero

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Even as the comedy movies are not having a good time these days and I have been mostly against them with the exception of Go Goa Gone, this one comes from the same person who had earlier directed Andaz Apna Apna, and so it was to be watched also because it had positive reviews from a good number of people whom I trusted. No, I don’t like Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, and so lets leave it out of this. Watching the Malayalam movie Sringaravelan worked completely against that idea though, and delayed the procedure even further with the reminder of the horror that a comedy movie can be. But the need to watch a movie featuring Ileana D’Cruz came up, and as most of the people did in last year, I didn’t watch Barfi nor did I watch Nanban, which made this movie closer to a must-watch. To add to it, the trailer was pretty good too, considering the standards which one expect from a mindless comedy movie. No, the movie doesn’t live up-to the trailer as it is not a fun riot throughout as it mixes things. Well, its mixed reviews are justified for sure, as the film raises its bar as a comedy movie which is not for one age group or just a generation of viewers, even as it never reaches that high level of something which is to be remembered for a long time.

If this movie was to raise the bar high enough, this review was to feature an interview with Count Dracula himself, but as it didn’t do that well enough, Dracula has to stay with just one interview provided (moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/hotel-transylvania/‎) and this won’t be the time for the second. The movie starts very well if we look at it, but it loses most of its strength in the second half, and the use of sentiments and there is that little more action which is more than needed, that doesn’t really help the cause. The movie is a breeze throughout the first half, and a disoriented wind in the second half. The movie required more comedy too, even as most of the existing funny lines surely work. With this movie with a title that is literally translated as Poster Rips Open And Out Comes Hero, there was a lot more possible. This could have been the best comedy movie of the year in any language from India if it had taken over from the base which was set in the first half, but unfortunately it trails to its own early half. Still, it doesn’t lose its path completely, as it holds on and on to the mindlessness and provides us with something which looks more like a parody at times, but is still funny enough.

The movie has a simple story if not the simplest of the age. There is nothing complicated in a young man from a village, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor) who hopes to become a big superstar by gaining a leading role in a movie. He is raised by his mother (Padmini Kolhapure) by driving an auto-rickshaw, hoping that her son will grow up to be a Police Inspector and beat up the evil guys, restoring order to a world lacking in righteousness and truth. She hopes that through her son, there will be justice which was destroyed by her own husband who was a corrupt police officer until the moment of his death. As Vishwas tries to make it to the big screen, his mother tries even more to make him a police officer, but he retaliates by depicting himself as unfit in front of those who conduct the tests. As he is called to Mumbai as the last chance for a police job, he goes there happily and tries his luck in the movies instead. But as a he comes up against a social-worker Kajal (Ileana D’Cruz) who confuses him as a police officer and he is pitted against the gangs of the city. He accidently catches another thief, and he hesitates to tell the truth as he falls for her slowly, but steadily.

The arrival of his mother who thinks that he is a police officer, also complicates the situation. He gets his aspiring actor friends to help him in the life-time acting of the police officer and even convinces the police commisioner to act so that he can help his mother. He is forced to save those who were vacated by goons due to his mother forcing him, and then again Kajal makes him raid a dance bar, an act which saves a number of women and exposes a lot of black money. The result is that the underworld don Gundappa (Saurabh Shukla) and the corrupt inspector Ghorpade (Zakir Hussain) on his payroll comes to consider him as a serious threat to their business and begins a big search for him. There are talks about an international criminal nicknamed Napolean and a dangerous terrorist mission known as the White Elephant, but at the same time, the police commissioner comes to stay near the place where our hero and his mother are staying, which adds to his woes, as he tries hard to keep his mask of the non-corrupt police officer on his face. Now, the hero has to become the real-life star rather than the big-screen star.

This is Shahid Kapoor’s favourite performance as I am concerned. I haven’t been his fan, but I liked his performances in 36 China Town and Fida. This is the first time that I have seen his performance which is fully comic in character, and there is no doubt that he has done the best among the actors. The best scenes include those when he meets Salman Khan when with his future love, and the dialogues with the police commissioner. He gets some good funny lines as expected. Yes, Salman Khan does make a cameo in this movie as himself, and Nargis Fakhri is there for an item dance which is more of a stage performance. Ileana D’Cruz looks lovely and dazzling throughout the movie, even as her character seems to make regular attempts to look cute and stupid, and turns incredibly gorgeous in the songs. Talking about the songs, it has to be said that they spring out of nowhere, like the demons of The Conjuring, but we get to see Shahid Kapoor at his stylish best and Ileana D’Cruz with serene beauty. The songs are undoubtedly forced on the movie, just like the climax. Ileana has her best lines in the beginning and the end, and in between, she has not much to outside the songs, alone.

As I had mentioned earlier, Ileana D’Cruz is the main reason why I stumbled upon this movie, and I have to say that she is part of my list of favourite actresses in Bollywood, even though I should have been familiar with her movies from the movie industry of the South, which I am not, just in her case. One fact about her character is that it is both a stupid as well as a lovable one – all the characters of the movie are pretty much stupid for sure, except for Padmini Kolhapure’s mother character. Ileana’s character has used that stupidity to perfection though, as she plays the lady who is nicknamed Complaint Kajal for the large number of complaints which she files in the police station for various reasons. It is a character who is supposed to be so, and Ileana’s portrayal of the same makes her instantly likable. Her portrayal of the character is second only to the hero’s performance. The name Ileana, having its own Greek origins, meaning “of Troy”, derived from the Greek name Helen, and here too, the origins are quite justified, as she remains the most beautiful side of the movie, even as no wars were fought on her name.

Padmini Kolhapure plays a good, righteous mother perfectly, as its been a long time since I saw her on the big screen, as I missed the Hamlet inspired Malayalam movie Karmayogi in which she is supposed to have been a part of. The other actors have also did their part well enough to entertain us. The best thing about this movie is that there is no humour of bad taste or bad words which keep the families away, and there is nothing of adult jokes which some of the movies of this age uses when the makers run out of ideas. There is also assertion of truth and righteousness and in the end it is asserted that being a hero in real life is better than being a fake hero in the big screen, an idea which lightens up what seems to be an otherwise inferior end to what seemed to be coming in the first half. This weaker second half could have been boosted to make this movie a better treat, but for now, lets adjust with what we have here. This is a movie which you can watch without thinking much, and you can give your brain a rest. I could watch this one for just rupees fifty and this is more than just worth it. Watch this one for the Helen of Troy that is Ileana D’Cruz, the charming stylish Greek hero that is Shahid Kapoor, and all the fun which has a hidden goodness element – forget the plot and leave your brains behind though.

Release date: 20th September 2013
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Padmini Kolhapure, Darshan Jariwala, Saurabh Shukla, Sanjay Mishra, Zakir Hussain, Mukesh Tiwari, Rana Jung Bahadur, Deepika Kamaiah, Tinnu Anand, Nargis Fakhri (cameo), Salman Khan (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.