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Upperstall Review




Hindi, Thriller, 2013, Color

The film looks at how the search for a missing child leads to a journey into the darker aspects of the human psyche. Rahul (Rahul Bhat) is a struggling actor whose ex-wife, Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure), is married to a hard-working police officer, Shoumik (Ronit Roy). On one of his weekend visits to his daughter, Rahul takes her for a ride and goes to meet a friend leaving her in the car but he returns to find out that she is missing. Thus starts a chain of events leading to a chilling finale...

Anurag Kashyap has a knack of ruffling feathers. Among the sea of mediocrity in Bollywood, his films have always held up on their own against the system and formula. Conforming to it somewhat in his last two outings namely, the Wasseypur saga, it wasn't the old maverick Kashyap that we saw flashes of when he started out with Paanch, No Smoking and Black Friday, arguably his best works. Ugly, however, marks a comeback of sorts of the maverick. It has that distinct indie, edgy and the 'Kashyap' feel to it. Here is a film without any big name actors, without any songs (other than the credits), stripped to bare minimums with the only hero being the story.

Ugly is an extremely taut thriller involving some masterful storytelling and brilliant acting. No other film has made it's title look more appropriate in recent times than here. It has a basic storyline mixed with the motivations of everyday individuals caught in a desperate situation. Everybody here is a possible culprit. The saying 'an honest man is the one who hasn't got caught yet' comes to mind repeatedly.

The real beauty of Ugly lies in the fact that none of what is shown here is unbelievable. You sit on your seat squirming uncomfortably at some scenes and laughing at the plight of the individuals at others, all the while realising somewhere in the back of your mind that it's all plausible. It happens daily in front of our eyes, in the back alleys of suburbs, on the regional pages of the newspapers and we all have known some of these individuals at some point in our lives and for some of us, we know that we may have acted the same way had we been in that situation. The triumph of Ugly lies in bringing us uncomfortably close to the reality of the human psyche.

Ugly doesn't have any mythical axe-wielding murderer, nor a serial killer spreading terror or any such traditional villain but yet it is scary and horrific as hell because all of its darkness is very intrinsic to the human nature which comes to the fore in desperate situations. Humans innately aren't good or bad per se but the theory of 'one bad day' (as used effectively to explain the origins of The Joker in 'The Killing Joke') or one bad situation is enough to turn a man into a monster, is visible here too. Pushed to the limits we are all capable of things we can't even think of doing.

The story is complemented extremely well by stellar performances from the ensemble cast all-round. Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Tejaswini Kolhapure and Vineet Kumar Singh are all well cast and execute the roles to perfection but the Marathi star Girish Kulkarni, who makes his Bollywood debut here, deserves special mention. He steals almost every scene he appears in. The background score by Brian McOmber is great and the editing never lets the pace of the movie down.

The only thing lacking here is the execution of the climax which lacks the desired impact somewhat. Don't watch it if you can't stomach realism in cinema and darker aspects of the human nature. All things aside, Ugly is beautiful.

- Shivam Sharma aka @GhantaGuy

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