Ecstasy, yes, and of course, pun intended. This drug-themed film sent me into a state in which I transcended normal consciousness, courtesy the brilliant performances of Shahid Kapoor (rockstar), Alia Bhatt (farm labourer), Kareena Kapoor (doctor) and Diljit Dosanjh (cop). The last named is sincerity personified and here to stay in Bollywood, while the other three have thrown themselves so much into their roles that your heart bleeds for them.
In Abhishek Chaubey's deft hands, Shahid continues the high that we saw in his mentor Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider. It turns out that the chela has done a better job than the guru with the father-to-be.
Watch this shaandar (isn't that incidentally the name of his last film which went up in smoke?) powerhouse of talent, who plays a rockstar, go crazy when his client sacks him. Watch him in the scene where he realises in jail that celebrities ought to be role models (message for some in real?). Watch him in the scene where it hits him that he is nothing without his long hair and on-stage histrionics.
How many heroines from our mainstream cinema are ready to accept films like Highway and especially Udta Punjab? Mahesh Bhatt's daughter inherits the understanding of characters from her father (Darwin's Theory always works), who has often made films which make people perform and not just be decorative items.
Watch Alia in the scene where she argues with Shahid to tell him that she is a big moron. Watch her in the scene where she has a loud conversation with the Almighty. Watch her when she runs on the streets; she resembles a hardcore ragpicker, which is so vital for her character who gets sucked into the vortex of the drug mafia.
Kareena walks through the role blindfolded, and we wonder why we hardly see her these days. Shahid's ex-flame also looks extremely pretty especially in the pink dress in the second half, which I thought could have been better.
The film, which deals with four lives facing the truth of substance abuse, is a bit weak in terms of the plot—but still holds the attention of the audience till its very end.
Coming back to the Sardar from Punjab, he is wonderfully cute and convincing. Ditto for Satish Kaushik, who should stop staying indoors.
If Chaubey and I thought alike, Shahid's role could have been fleshed out slightly better. 15 minutes after the interval when he first meets Alia, his character's curve attains some sort of a saturation. By the way, do you disagree that Shahid is the best dancer in the current young lot? See Chitta Ve and we'll talk.
Take your guess on the mastermind behind not wanting this film to see the light of day. but it does not paint Punjab in bad light, and in fact, is an eye-opener for the youth to understand the ill-effects of narcotics.
Thank you Bombay High Court for allowing this labour of love to reach us. Dekho, not the leaked copy, and revolt against those who wanted to snatch your freedom to see it. Take a bow, Anurag Kashyap, Ekta Kapoor, and of course, Chaubey.
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