Anurag Kashyap

Movie Review
UGLY:Glimpses of Kashyap-pur

The latest offering by the ace writer-director Anurag Kashyap, who is slowly becoming an A-lister among the cinemagoers, is a bullet-train ride into the man’s perception of human greed and apathy. It’s a fast-paced thriller set in Mumbai - exposing the city’s rather morbid shades - and populated by a hoard of characters driven by insecurities and ability to turn ruthless. However, this one’s not something in which he has broken new grounds but a hasty trip into the land of his imagination we are already quite familiar with.

A struggling actor Rahul (Rahul Bhatt) picks up his little daughter, Kali (Anshikaa Shrivastava), from his ex-wife Shalini’s (Tejaswini Kolhapure) place who is now married to a fiercely upright top-cop Shaumik Bose (Ronit Roy). The daughter goes missing from the car when the father was away leading the man to go to the police station with his best friend, a casting-director named Chaitanya (Vineet Singh). Shaumik gets directly involved in the case and while Rahul is the prime suspect for a kidnapping, nobody actually has a clue what went wrong with the child. As the film builds momentum the story branches out into separate tracks and what follows is a tale of vengeance, deceit and greed which every character is party to.

Surely, Anurag Kashyap is in a league of his own and is trying to push the envelope with his every film. Only thing, with Ugly, is that you might feel here his intentions were too obvious.  He has a strong hold on the plot that rushes towards the final revelation at a great speed with characters that come across as terribly flawed but believable human beings. It has twists, turns and details required for an engaging thriller. Only that you feel this is only a heavier dose of what Kashyap had already served in Paanch and Black Friday. Somehow, the story which is otherwise an excellent exposition of the sordid choices people make, yields little fulfillment.  

The film hooks you right from the first frame and maintains the suspense till the very end. The filmmaker captures the apathy of characters towards each other with perfection. So much so that he chooses even the viewer remains apathetic towards the characters and that harms the film’s intensity not allowing the shock-value to turn into poignancy. There is no emotional anchor in the story that could have given a direction to the viewer’s sympathy. You feel a bit clueless by the end as to which character actually rose to the occasion, who ended up defeated or victorious and what exactly should be your emotional response to this tale. As the characters deviate from their initial motivation, that of finding Kali, the story also deviates from the central dramatic question and with each passing scene we care less for the lost child. It’s because one is undecided if the girl should actually be found or if she even deserves the kind of non-existent affection the closed ones around her have to offer. One is rather sure that nothing can put this world back on track and that even if Kali is found, nothing will get sorted out.

While the scene in which Rahul and Chaitanya lodge the complaint bears the stamp of Kashyap’s black humor, in a few other scenes he dangerously borders on pretense and self-indulgence. On one hand the equation between Rahul and Shaumik, fueled by old grudges, pushes the story to a hypnotic level of excitement, on the other, the track with Shalini’s brother Siddhant (Siddhant Kapoor) looks forced and highlights what looks like narrative inconsistency. You might wonder what Siddhant’s equation with his father is and why there is such a gap between the economic backgrounds of the two. The same obscurity prevails over the character of Rakhee (Surveen Chawla) and her equation with Chaitanya.

The film is backed by impeccable casting, ethereal background score and a sharp edit while the cinematography gives it a lovely noir appeal. While every actor does justice to his or her part, Ronit Roy’s screen presence is simply explosive. Vineet Singh stands out among the rest of the cast and delivers an energetic performance.

Ugly is a film you’d not like to miss if you’re a fan of Anurag Kashyap and have a love for edge-of-the-seat thrillers. You might only wish the filmmaker had narrowed it down a little bit.


   Dinkar Sharma

Dinkar Sharma is a Screenwriter. His first feature film Second Marriage Dot Com was released in 2012. He can be contacted via his Facebook profile:. https://www.facebook.com/imdinkarsharma.

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