Thank you Alia for Udta Punjab from that ‘Bihari Girl’

By Shefali S Jha

Phew! Something interesting happened to me this weekend. After fangirling at the ‘Udta Punjab’ screening, I went home – thinking about the letter I had written to Alia earlier. I was feeling a little bad about it because her performance in the film was beyond awesome. And for a while, I toyed around with the idea of texting her. Voices in my head kept listing the pros and cons of doing this. 

 

What if she files a harassment complaint against me? What if she blocks me out and decides never to do a story with us? But ultimately, the cinema lover in me prevailed, and I decided to text her.

Surprise, surprise! She replied, in a short but sweet way with a lot of hugs and smiles. Charmed by this, I began to think more intensely about the movie and her performance.

Just like the rest of the country, I was thrilled by the rollercoaster ride that ‘Udta Punjab’ is. Shahid looked every bit the flamboyant-yet-troubled youth icon.

Kareena as a Sikhni, I have to admit, has done a much better job than some of her contemporaries who have tried their hands at ‘Punjabi roles’ this year (and failed miserably).

And Diljit Paaji – Twaada te jwaab nai!

But we aren’t here to discuss them. We’re here to discuss Alia.

I’m not exactly what you’d describe as a ‘film critic’, but after watching the movie, I felt it was obligatory to thank her for playing the part as beautifully as she did.

It was absolutely surprising to see her plunge in and out of the forbidden world of drug abuse, pain and guilt so effortlessly. I’m no actress either, but I imagine it’s mighty difficult to live and breathe under the skin of a character that demands every ounce of the energy and commitment one has.

Alia should give herself a pat on your back because I don’t think any of her contemporaries could have pulled off such complex, multilayered, bleak role with the same conviction as she did.

I grew up in Bihar, and admittedly felt slightly cornered by my emotions of statehood when I chanced upon the first Udta Punjab trailer earlier this year. Some of the comments made at the trailer launch, I felt reeked of ignorance and stereotyping.

But then I went to see the movie and the rest, as they say, is history.

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