Late 2014, in one of his initial radio talks (Mann ki Baat) to the public, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had started a #DrugFreeIndia campaign. It seems the movement is yet to take steam as director Abhishek Chaubey’s gripping movie Udta Punjab details, the menace is very much out at large.
And no one bothers.
No many even bothered to watch the movie. It’s barely a hit with 70 crores collection. Probably more people were interested in the censor board CBFC vs producer Anurag Kashyap masala battle than the actual content. That’s India. We live forever in denial of the truth, insensitive and hypocrites.
One of censor board’s claim was it stereotypes Punjab state as a drug zone. I quite agree. Such titles and constant use of the name of state permanently paints that image of the state. A corporate leader won’t bother setting up a factory there, a mother will fear sending kids to study in school and an employee will hesitate in taking a transfer there.
Drug menace is heavy across the world and across India – from Goa, Mumbai, Himanchal all the way to the North East. And everything in between. Many Bollywood movies have depicted that. But for Udta Punjab’s intensity it probably deserves to be included in Class 8 school syllabus. This very idea can seem extreme but we tend to sit quiet till the problem enters our house. It’s time we accepted and acted proactive.
An edited version of the movie (specially the dragging factory search sequence and the Alia Bhatt Shahid Kapoor parts can be reduced) would be much better education material for early teen students than complicated trigonometry or why Aurangzeb looted India! It’s only when teens are exposed early about drug impact that you can expect education to convert to commonsense.
Today’s kids need to be told that drugs are little about ecstasy but more about a prison of no return; that drugs will force you to commit more crimes; that it’s expensive sh%t and that it sits you along with the worst criminals of the society; that teens be aware of what to do and what to avoid.
Growing amongst smartphones and air-conditioned classrooms, today’s youth tend to be fearless and adventurous. One of my close friends, Ali Jinah, lost his young nephew while the latter was trying to take a selfie off a cliff at Bali. Dying trying to take a selfie? Seriously?
Yes seriously. Cause the line between your bravado and an incident happening is very thin. You blink and your kid can get kidnapped as showed in played out in the Anurag Kashyap classic Ugly. Also as shown in movie NH10, there is a stark difference between an MNC office in Gurgaon and the highway just few kilometres down.
A girl child needs to know that one syringe poke can overnight turn her fate into sleeping with unknown, dirty and aged pot-bellied gangsters. Lifelong. That while making friends it’s important to get into predictable decent company than seek cool, funky, X factors!
That there is type of music created which encourage drugs, alcohol, treating women as objects and blowing off hard-earned money. It’s rumoured Shahid Kapoor’s Tommy Singh act in Udta Punjab was very close to singer Honey Singh’s reality.
Teach the real stuff
PM Modi and Education minister Smriti Irani can radically change our thinking by urging a movie like Udta Punjab to be mandated in schools with discussions, analysis and exams on it. Movies are biggest influencers to society. As I write, salons at Delhi have long queues of youth seeking the ‘Tommy Singh’ hairstyles!
Last month I have been watching the massively intense Narcos – a TV series about the drug cartel formations in Colombia and how it led to civil war for decades. I watched all episodes of that series thrice and still not satiated. Udta Punjab has its moments and dwelves you to think. Thoughts which need to be embedded into society. Because even our society is weak-minded.
Our kids need be more sensitive
Singapore had late release of Udta Punjab as the first show happened only this week. But elite Singapore NRIs were at times found giggling hearing abusive words, browsing phones during intense scenes and got up moment they realized the ending credits had messages and not any item number. It’s was a fair reflection of how seriously our society perceives the drug menace. There was very low intent to learn across the hall. We don’t want our kids to be as ignorant as this.
By early teens they would anyways be aware of all abusive words and the meaning of rape. It’s the right age and right need to be told how big, dark, deep, well is this world of drugs. That once you go into, there is simply no coming back. You are forever doomed.
Udta Punjab is different and hard-hitting. Never mind the CBFC M18 certificate. Show it to your teen kid, explain and discuss the nuances. You rather alert him/her before he/she shocks you some day returning after a high on drugs and sex rave party!