Udta Punjab

Udta Punjab (lit.Punjab on a high) is a 2016 Indian black comedy crime film co-written and directed by Abhishek Chaubey. It is loosely based on and revolves around the drug abuse by the youth population in the Indian state of Punjab and the various conspiracies surrounding it. Produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor under their banner Balaji Motion Pictures, in association with Anurag Kashyap's production house Phantom Films, it features an ensemble cast consisting of Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh.[4][5]

Udta Punjab
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAbhishek Chaubey
Produced byShobha Kapoor
Ekta Kapoor
Anurag Kashyap
Vikramaditya Motwane
Aman Gill
Sameer Nair
Madhu Mantena
Screenplay bySudip Sharma
Abhishek Chaubey
Story bySudip Sharma
Abhishek Chaubey
StarringShahid Kapoor
Kareena Kapoor
Alia Bhatt
Diljit Dosanjh
Satish Kaushik
Suhail Nayyar
Manav Vij
Music byOriginal Songs:
Amit Trivedi
Background Score:
Benedict Taylor
Naren Chandavarkar
CinematographyRajeev Ravi
Edited byMeghna Sen
Distributed byBalaji Motion Pictures
White Hill Studios
Release date
  • 17 June 2016 (2016-06-17)
Running time
149 minutes (A)
132 minutes (U/A)
Budget47 crore[1][2]
Box officeest. 96.08 crore[3]

On 4 June 2016, the Central Board of Film Certification sought a stay on the film's release citing that the themes dealt with in the film were too vulgar for the general audience. As a result, the producers were directed to make a total of 89 cuts in the film. However, on 13 June 2016, the Bombay High Court struck down the stay and gave permission for the film's national release, albeit with a single cut in the screenplay.[6] The film was released worldwide on 17 June 2016.[7] Made on a budget of 470 million (US$6.8 million), Udta Punjab was an average grosser domestically [8] and earned approximately 960 million (US$14 million) worldwide.[9] It was critically acclaimed[10], and at the 62nd Filmfare Awards, the film won four awards, including Best Actress (Alia Bhatt) and Critics Award for Best Actor (Shahid Kapoor).[11]


The play opens with three Pakistani youths throwing packets of drugs across to India for it to be picked up later. Tejinder "Tommy" Singh (Shahid Kapoor), also known as "Gabru" among his fans, is a young and successful Punjabi musician who lives a luxurious lifestyle. Together with an ostentatious crew led by Tayaji (Satish Kaushik) and cousin Jassi (Suhail Nayyar), he indulges in uncontrolled consumption of cocaine. Tommy is popular for his energetic songs with lyrics that often glorify violence and drug addiction. However, his addiction costs him his music contract and lands him in jail. In prison, he meets two of his die-hard fans who remark how Tommy's lifestyle had 'inspired' theirs, leading them to commit murder. Realizing that his songs have negatively affected teenagers, Tommy decides to change his ways upon release. A few days later, he engages in an altercation with Tayaji and accidentally shoots him, injuring his ear. Tayaji sends Tommy and his crew away to a farmhouse so that he can prepare for an upcoming concert.

Working on the farm is a Bihari migrant worker named Kumari Pinky (Alia Bhatt), called Bauria. Bauria's dreams of playing national-level hockey for the country were shattered, so she came to Punjab to work as a laborer. She works for a local landlord who uses agriculture as a front for drug-peddling. One night, she finds a suspicious packet on the farm and realizes that it is some kind of drug. She resolves to sell it but her search for a potential buyer lands her in trouble as she unwittingly contacts the original owners of the heroin. She is captured by the gang of drug peddlers but not before she discards it into a well. As a compensation for their lost drugs, the peddlers forcibly keep her at their house, where she is sexually and physically abused, given drugs, and prostituted to men. Some weeks later, she manages to escape.

In the neighboring town lives Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor), a doctor and activist who runs a rehabilitation center. Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is a junior policeman who knows about the drug smuggling his seniors are allowing. But when it affects his family, as his brother, Balli, overdoses and is brought to Preet's clinic, he realizes the grave situation. Preet and Sartaj decide to find the root cause of the problem together. Balli is admitted into her drug rehabilitation centre against his will.

At his concert, instead of singing, Tommy starts preaching. Infuriated by his speech about how one should lead one's life, his fans start throwing bottles at him. Tommy gets angry and urinates in front of the crowd before fleeing. He hides in an old structure and meets Bauria, also hiding. The two share their stories and bond. However, Bauria is recaptured by the same gang. Tommy learns the next day that an arrest warrant has been issued for him because of the public ruckus at the concert. He sets out to find Bauria after realising he is in love with her.

Preet and Sartaj find that the driving force behind the drug problem in Punjab is an elderly man called Virender Singh, who has flourished with the support of MP Maninder Brar. The two go to extreme measures to collect evidence against the politician and put together a report to be sent to the state's Election Commission to thwart Brar's campaign for another term in power. Sartaj and Preet fall in love; however, one night, Preet sees a manic Balli trying to escape from her rehab center. On trying to stop him, she is accidentally stabbed by him. The policemen who investigate her homicide, including senior officer Jhujar Singh, come across the report made by her and Sartaj. Since he is Sartaj's close friend, Jhujar decides to protect Balli by sending him underground. However, he is infuriated when he sees that he too has been named in the drug racket and calls Sartaj.

In the presence of the local drug mafia at their farmhouse (where Bauria is confined), a bruised and beaten Sartaj is questioned by Jhujar, who is a key member in the drug racket. Sartaj says whatever he did was for the sake of Punjab. At the same time, Tommy enters the house. Sartaj grabs Jhujar's pistol and shoots the whole gang before freeing Balli. Tommy helps Bauria escape from her captors. Balli kneels and cries in front of his brother, whose face is expressionless.

It is shown that the government issued an inquiry into Maninder Brar's activities and there has been a huge crackdown on the drug menace. In Goa, amidst his crew members, Tommy calls Bauria to ask for her real name. Sitting by the beach, she catches sight of a foreigner having fun. Inspired, she utters "Mary Jane".[lower-alpha 1]


Planning and filming

Priyanka Chopra was initially approached for the lead female role. Later Parineeti Chopra was in talks for the same part.[15] Principal photography of the film commenced in March 2015,[16] Three of the actors Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Alia Bhatt halved their fees for the film.[17]


Udta Punjab
Soundtrack album by
Released18 May 2016 (2016-05-18)
StudioA T Studios – Mumbai, The Click Studio – Mumbai
GenreFeature Film Soundtrack
LabelZee Music Company
ProducerAmit Trivedi
Amit Trivedi chronology
Udta Punjab
Dear Zindagi

The music for Udta Punjab was composed by Amit Trivedi with lyrics by the late Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Shellee and Varun Grover. The background music was composed by Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar. The music rights are acquired by Zee Music Company.

The first song "Chitta Ve" was released on 4 May 2016.[18] Two more Singles "Da Da Dasse" and "Ik Kudi"[19] were released before the Release of Final soundtrack. The Complete Soundtrack consisting of 7 songs was released on 18 May 2016.[20][21]

Track listing

All music is composed by Amit Trivedi.

Track Listing
1."Chitta Ve"ShelleeBabu Haabi, Shahid Mallya, Bhanu Pratap Singh4:48
2."Da Da Dasse"ShelleeKanika Kapoor, Babu Haabi4:01
3."Ikk Kudi"Shiv Kumar BatalviShahid Mallya4:02
4."Ud-Daa Punjab"Varun GroverVishal Dadlani, Amit Trivedi4:35
5."Hass Nach Le"ShelleeShahid Mallya4:30
6."Vadiya"ShelleeAmit Trivedi4:29
7."Ikk Kudi" (Reprised Version)Shiv Kumar BatalviDiljit Dosanjh4:07
8."Ikk Kudi" (Club Mix)Shiv Kumar BatalviDiljit Dosanjh4:14
9."Ikk Kudi" (Asees Kaur Version)Shiv Kumar BatalviAsees Kaur4:07
Total length:38:53


Amit Trivedi said about the soundtrack, "The film required a really dark soundtrack. So, I had to incorporate psychedelic trance and hip hop into it. It will be edgier and more in-your-face than anything else seen in Bollywood music before. I don't know how the audience will react to it because it is not something that we are used to. But I do know that there are people who have an appetite for psy-trance and hip hop in India. So, I hope it is received well".[22] The movie's music rights were sold for 18 crore (US$2.6 million), making it the biggest such deal in Bollywood history.[23]


The movie has been reported to have had issues with the censor board over profanities and scenes of drug use.[24] On 9 June 2016, the Censor Board (CBFC) came out with a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers prior to the film's release. One of the pointers even included deleting the names of cities in Punjab.[25] On 13 June 2016, Bombay High Court cleared Udta Punjab with one cut and disclaimers. The scene where Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is shown urinating on a crowd needs to be chopped off, ruled the court. The CBFC was directed to issue an 'A' certificate to Udta Punjab within two days. The film is available on Netflix.[26]

Censorship issues

The row over the film being drug-themed slated for release on 17 June escalated with co-producer Anurag Kashyap hitting out at CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani, calling him "oligarch" and "dictator" and that it was like living in North Korea. The makers of the film are said to have been asked by the Revising Committee of the Censor Board to remove all references to Punjab and to make 89 cuts. Kashyap got the support of several filmmakers including Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma, Aamir Khan, Imtiaz Ali, Varun Dhawan and Mukesh Bhatt. "It is a dark day for freedom of expression and creativity in the country," Mukesh Bhatt said, calling Pahlaj Nihalani a "stooge" of the government.[27] It was later cleared by Bombay High Court with the number of cuts reduced from 89 to a single scene, wherein a character is seen urinating on a crowd of people. The Court directed the Board to issue an 'A' certificate before the scheduled release of the movie.[28] According to The Economist, Nihalani "was appointed by the BJP, whose coalition partner in Punjab, the SAD, had much to lose from bad publicity" resulting from the movie, due to a subplot in the movie drawing "a parallel with the real-life case of a convicted drug lord who named the SAD deputy chief’s brother-in-law as his accomplice".[29]

In August 2017, soon after his removal as CBFC Chief, Nihalani revealed in an interview that he had received instructions from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to block the release of the film.[30]

Online piracy issue

On 15 June 2016, some parts of the film were leaked online onto various peer-to-peer sharing websites. While some torrent sites hosted torrent files containing a forty-minute clip, the whole film was also uploaded on other media sharing sites like Mega. Indiatimes.com reported that the leaked clips allegedly contained the text "FOR CENSOR" on the top-left corner, implying that the leaked copies were part of the samples shared with the Censor Board.[31] The Huffington Post reported that the producers of the film had filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime cell in Mumbai. It added that Balaji Motion Pictures and Phantom Films, its producers, had succeeded in pulling down as many as 600 links from the web. Commenting on the leak, the film's spokesperson said, "Two copies of the CD were sent to the CBFC and this version is from the same source. It's literally a no-brainer to conclude where the leak has come from and, sure enough, the cyber crime cell will get to the bottom of this."[32]


Udta Punjab was acclaimed by critics.[10] Meena Iyer of The Times of India gave the film 4.5 stars out of 5.[33] Rajeev Masand of CNN-News18 writes "the film is hard-hitting and uncomfortable to watch, and mixes dark humor to a tale about the dirty drug and political nexus in Punjab", giving it 3.5 rating out of 5.[34] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film 3 stars out of 5, saying it is "the kind of film which has something to say, and it says it with both flair and conviction".[35] Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com gave the film 4 stars out of 5, saying "Udta Punjab is a wake-up call, an important film and a mighty impressive one at that, carrying a loud anti-drug message".[36] Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times wrote "Udta Punjab works mostly because of its tone and stand against drugs, though the second half is no match for the first", giving the film 3.5 rating out of 5.[37] Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film 4 stars out of 5, writing "Udta Punjab is littered with standout scenes, but none matches the sledgehammer impact of the climax".[38] Namrata Joshi of The Hindu described the film as "a gut-wrenching look at the frightening dystopia that is Punjab today owing to rampant drug abuse".[39]

The film was banned in Pakistan by CBFC Pakistan for "use of abusive language."[40]

Box office

The film was a commercial success, and became Shahid Kapoor's largest-opening film at the time.[41] It earned approximately 10.05 crore (US$1.5 million) in India, with an additional 3.46 crore (US$500,000) coming from overseas revenue on its opening day.[9] The film grossed 46.94 crore (US$6.8 million) worldwide during its opening weekend and 75.82 crore (US$11 million) worldwide in its first week.[9] As of 9 July 2016, the film has earned 15 crore (US$16.6 million) worldwide.[9]


Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Screen Awards 4 December 2016 Best Actress Alia Bhatt Won [42]
Stardust Awards 19 December 2016 Best Screenplay Abhishek Chaubey, Sudip Sharma Won [43][44]
Best Story Nominated
Editor's Choice Performer of the Year Alia Bhatt Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
Best Actor Shahid Kapoor Nominated
Best Male Debut Diljit Dosanjh Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kareena Kapoor Nominated
Best Music Director Amit Trivedi Nominated
Best Music Album Zee Music Company Nominated
Filmfare Awards 14 January 2017 Best Film Udta Punjab Nominated [45][46]
Best Director Abhishek Chaubey Nominated
Best Actor Shahid Kapoor Nominated
Best Actor (Critics) Won
Best Actress Alia Bhatt Won
Best Male Debut Diljit Dosanjh Won
Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kareena Kapoor Nominated
Best Music Album Amit Trivedi Nominated
Best Lyrics Late Shiv Kumar Batalvi (for the song "Ikk Kudi") Nominated
Best Playback Singer (Female) Kanika Kapoor (for the song "Da Da Dasse") Nominated
Best Costume Payal Saluja Won
Mirchi Music Awards 18 February 2017 Album of the Year Amit Trivedi, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Shellee, Varun Grover Nominated [47][48]
Music Composer of the Year Amit Trivedi (for the song "Ikk Kudi") Nominated
Raag-Inspired Song of the Year "Ikk Kudi" Nominated
Zee Cine Awards 11 March 2017 Best Actor – Female Alia Bhatt Won [49][50]
Best Story Abhishek Chaubey, Sudip Sharma Nominated
Best Director Abhishek Chaubey Nominated
Best Actor – Male Shahid Kapoor Nominated
Best Debutant – Male Diljit Dosanjh Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Female Kareena Kapoor Nominated
Best Actor In A Comic Role Satish Kaushik Nominated
International Indian Film Academy Awards 14 July 2017 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shahid Kapoor Won [51]
Best Actress in a Leading Role Alia Bhatt Won
Best Male Debut Diljit Dosanjh Won
Best Playback Singer – Female Kanika Kapoor (for the song "Da Da Dasse") Won
Best Film Udta Punjab Nominated
Best Director Abhishek Chaubey Nominated
Best Music Direction Amit Trivedi Nominated
Best Playback Singer – Male Diljit Dosanjh (for the song "Ikk Kudi") Nominated
BIG Zee Entertainment Awards 29 July 2017 Most Entertaining Social Film Udta Punjab Won [52][53]
Most Entertaining Actor in a Social Film – Female Alia Bhatt Nominated
Most Entertaining Actor (Film) – Female Won
Most Entertaining Actor (Film) – Male Shahid Kapoor Won
Most Entertaining Actor (Film) Debut – Male Diljit Dosanjh Nominated
Most Entertaining Music Amit Trivedi Nominated
Most Entertaining Singer (Female) Kanika Kapoor (for the song "Da Da Dasse") Nominated
B4U Viewers Choice Awards 2017 Best Actress Kareena Kapoor Won


  1. According to the director, "Mary Jane", as the name of Bhatt's character, is an allusion to the drug marijuana.[12]


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