Hindi News

Udta Punjab’s Makers Accused Of Plagiarism

A recent report by Times of India claimed that several aspects of Udta Punjab‘s script were plagiarised from a 2002 British novel High Society, written by Ben Elton.


A Scroll report, too, found many similarities between the novel and the film scripted by Sudip Sharma and director Abhishek Chaubey.

Among these were the very titles of both works – High/Udta and Society/Punjab. Also, the plot of the novel deals with British drug culture. The characters include a rocker Tommy Hanson (Shahid Kapoor too is a rockstar named Tommy), who is a drug addict. Tommy meets Jessie, a 17-year-old woman who has run away to London from her home. She is exploited by a pimp who drugs her and forces her into prostitution. There’s also commander Barry Leman, a righteous police officer who uncovers and takes on the drug mafia headed by powerful politicians.

These principal characters bear similarities to the characters that Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh played.

However, there are obviuous changes in the setting of the story. High Society is described as a dark comedy, and the writer’s point of view was that all drugs should be legalised. Whereas in Udta Punjab, however, Chaubey makes a strong case for the opposing view. The film’s core message is about rehabilitation and throws light on how drug abuse has been left unchecked in the state of Punjab.

In an interview to The Hindu, producer Anurag Kashyap said “I don’t have anything to say. I am completely shocked by the same, haven’t read the book. I know for a fact that my director and writer went and spent a lot of time in Punjab researching the film, and have seen the research. If they were in any way inspired by the book, which only they know, they have done a damn good job in the writing of the script. Because the film that I read and I saw, seemed very very rooted in the land.”

In an interview with Scroll, Sudip Sharma said that though he had read High Soceity ‘a long time ago’ he ‘didn’t remember most of it’. He added that, if anything, he was inspired by Traffic, the 2000 Hollywood crime drama and a Tehelka report about the drug problem in Punjab.


“The one big inspiration for me was TrafficI had read the [Ben Elton] book a long time back,” Sharma said. “I don’t remember most of it.I also read a Tehelka report on thePunjab drug crisis. This article was published in 2012, a few months before I met the director of the film, Abhishek Chaubey,” Sharma said.

Udta Punjabstarring Shahid Kapur, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh, released in June this year. It received mostly positive reviews.