Ugly is one of the darkest, hard-hitting, gritty thrillers to have hit Indian Screens in the recent times which manages to keep you glued to your seats till the end credits roll out. Neither Mumbai's streets nor her morally bankrupt citizens are a pretty sight in "Ugly", the latest crime thriller helmed and written by Anurag Kashyap. Coldly scrutinizing the shadowy motives at play during the investigation of a young girl's kidnapping, the grittily stylized film boasts a scattershot narrative that frustrates as much as it illuminates. As a director, Anurag Kashyap has made movies which have always carved a niche of their own in terms of cinematic experience. The best part about his movies is that they are devoid of the regular formulaic elements which are integral part of most Bollywood movies that are churned out these days and Ugly is a step ahead in that direction. Ugly is devoid of any songs, loud jarring background music or any of the regular cliches that most Bollywood thriller movies thrive on but still it manages to engage the audience into the on-screen proceedings due to its realistic treatment. If we take a look at earlier movies of Kashyap be it Black Friday, Gangs Of Wasseypur, they were packed with political and social innuendos. Ugly is quite contrary to that as its main focus is on dark side of human emotions and human follies. It ably reflects how the relationships have gone for a toss in today's modern world. Each n every character in this movie has a dark side with negativity attached to them which has been crafted masterfully. Every character in the film looks to be hiding something, everybody’s lying to somebody around them, and as things heat up and masks are worn and discarded, Kashyap makes all his characters supplicate in front of the deity of Opportunism. People are selfish, greedy and violent. In real life redemption is as rare as innocence. Our past and our baggage govern how we behave and react in the present. That is the Ugly truth. And that is why Anurag Kashyap's latest film deserves its name to the hilt. This crime thriller is the ugliest form of reality you'll ever watch. It will shake you up, churn your emotions in a grinder and spew it out for nothing.
STORY & SCREENPLAY :: The movie has been written by Anurag Kashyap who has done a fantastic job out of it. The underlying sense of peril and the unrelenting tension grips you through a sweat breaking two hours. And when the climax of Ugly arrives you’re dealt a killer blow. It’s so dark and inconvenient that it’ll wrench your gut. And yet, it’s so simple that you’ll hate yourself for not guessing. More so, you’ll hate the characters for being so ignorant and misguided. Ugly is a film that draws the deepest and darkest behavior of men. This is how you write a great film. Every frame has a dark undertone and Ugly does not conclude until every possible avenue of audience empathy is explored. With a run time of two hours and eight minutes, 'Ugly' will end up leaving you gasping for more. An unending police interrogation with Rahul that turns into a argument about smart phone features and a police officer singing a few lines of a song to understand its relevance to the case provides the necessary comic relief to the otherwise grim storyline. Dismay permeates the film from the very first frame, in which Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure), wife to powerful police chief Shoumik (Ronit Roy), contemplates various methods of suicide before she’s interrupted by her 10-year-old daughter, Kali (Anshika Shrivastava). It’s Kali’s scheduled day out with her father, Rahul (Rahul Bhatt), whose pipe dreams of becoming a movie star caused Shalini much grief during their brief, troubled marriage. Still vain and negliigent as ever, Rahul leaves Kali in his car to go to an audition. By the time he’s caught up with his casting agent and sidekick, Chaitanya (Vineet Kumar Singh), his daughter has disappeared. Rahul and Chaitanya’s search for police assistance soon devolves from Bollywood-referencing farce to noir nightmare, when the case is turned over to Shoumik. His henchmen take turns interrogating and torturing Chaitanya and Rahul, intending to pin the blame on them; though this is only the first of many scenes of sickening brutality, it’s the film’s most shocking, revealing how much the police will abuse their authority to serve their personal ends. The “suspects” prove more slippery than expected, however, and they’re temporarily let off the hook. As Rahul takes a different tack to save Kali, possibly less out of concern for her than out of a desire to defy Shoumik, their clashes reawaken old grudges that date back to their college days. Meanwhile, Shalini has an axe to grind with both her ex and her current husband, though it comes to pass that she’s no docile, chaste wife herself. Kashyap’s tone of sneering cynicism drains the potentially kitchen-sink material of any sentimentality or uplift, placing the characters in sordid scenarios that reveal their unsavory sides; the mind games between Rahul and Shoumik in particular lend the procedural its most gripping drama. However, as the web of deceit spreads out to include Shalini’s spendthrift brother, Siddhant (Siddhant Kapoor), and her unhappily married friend Rahki (Surveen Chawla), the plot becomes too busy and intricate for its own good.
STARCAST :: As a casting director, Mukesh Chhabra has once again proved his mettle by choosing the appropriate starcast for this movie. Sans any big stars, lesser known actors have ably carried the weight of this movie on their shoulders by giving earnest performances. There could not have been a better choice than selecting Rahul Bhatt to play the role of an struggling actor as his character has an uncanny resemblance to his real life. And that is one reason why Rahul Bhatt has played his character to utmost perfection and given a very realistic performance. Vineet Kumar Singh as Rahul's best friend, casting director and producer has given one helluva performance. His character had various shades of grey n black to perform which Vineet has nailed to perfection. His performance in this movie is nothing short of sheer brilliance. Tejaswini Kolhapure plays Shalini with shrill theatricality, which sometimes enlivens the film’s downbeat progress; she generates real pathos in scenes in which she’s treated like a virtual hostage, as if echoing Kali’s captivity. Ronit Roy is particularly masterful as vengeful, despotic police chief who seems right at home in a corrupt bureaucratic system. Another performance worth mentioning has been given by Girish Kulkarni who has portrayed the character of Inspector Jadhav. The scene where he interrogates Rahul & Vineet when they come to lodge missing report of Kali is a treat to watch. His dead pan & straight expressions in that scene are sheer brilliance. Surveen Chawla as Rakhi gets less screen time but stands out in her performance and same can be said about Siddhant Kapoor.
TECHNICAL FINESSE :: The background score of the movie has been composed by Brian Mcomber which is neither loud nor jarring. His background score is apt enough to further elevate the cinematic experience and provides a further impetus to the visuals that we watch on-screen. The cinematography of the movie has been handled by Nikos Andritsakis who has done an excellent job. Visually, the film is no treat as it's set mostly on the mean streets of Mumbai's poorest areas, though the chase scenes and in-your-face violence has been effectively captured. The movie has been edited by Aarti Bajaj who has kept the run-time to 128 minutes. Kudos to Aarti, for not only her crisp and taut editing but also for managing the show where there are ample of strong characters jostling with each other for screen space. As a director, Anurag Kashyap has excelled once again by providing you edge of the seat entertainment via this dark thriller. Kashyap's film is anti establishment and it highlights the faulty setup that exists in the country. But the deftness with which Kashyap weaves these issues into the plot makes Ugly relatable.The scenes are filled with uncompromising vitality while he tries to weave in systematic problem in the film. Surveillance-obsessed procedural detail, emotional meltdowns, and swindling schemes are pieced together without cutting down the pace of this thriller.
CONCLUSION :: This is a must watch for those who have a penchant for dark, cynical thrillers but mind you it is not cut out for weak hearted and children below eighteen.
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