Expectations from the trailer of a film often vary, especially taking into account the reception context and industry specificities or maybe their absence, in case of more experimental or independent ventures. When it comes to mainstream films in Bollywood, trailers have mostly been reduced to a set of visual information such as the cast, locations, costumes, etc. unveiled with the soundtrack and interspersed with a couple of one liners. The trailer of Udta Punjab by Abhishek Chaubey takes slight detours from the established format which makes it a rather refreshing three minute audio visual experience.
While apparently sticking to the aforementioned template, the trailer makes uses of certain portions of poignant scenes instead of merely picking up the punch line, and manages to develop a little narrative in itself. This smart juxtaposition of shots and scenes of varying lengths gives the trailer the necessary breathing space and a nice rhythm. As for the film itself, the trailer reveals that it deals with the rising drug problem among the youth of Punjab and the rest of it is an exposition of rather stereotypical characters one would expect; a pop musician with an addiction, a righteous crusader, a corrupt cop, a down on luck damsel, etc.
Interestingly, dealing with such a grave issue, the trailer imparts a refreshing tongue-in-the-cheek attitude which might save it from becoming self-indulgent. It is often a familiar trap for mainstream films dealing with relevant social issues to take itself too seriously and consequently become sentimental and preachy. However, it’d be interesting to see whether the film itself is aware of the socio-historical nuances of Punjab. The state has been a site of violence time and again throughout history. Incidents like Jallianwala Bagh, Partition, Khalistan Movement, and Operation Blue Star, all happened within the last hundred years! To put it poetically, the soil of the region has always been crimson, besides being fertile. It might be exciting to see how much the film is successful in addressing the social realities of Punjab and displace it from its popular representation in Bollywood; a land of greenery where people consume rich food, crack jokes, wear colourful clothes and sing and dance on every pretext!
Arup Ratan Samajdar