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Why Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Ugly’ is one of the best films of 2014!

Mumbai,Bryan Durham: You can’t look away, no matter how brutal and how manipulative the story gets with each twist and turn. It’s refreshing to find each character irredeemable and selfish, no matter how many flashes of an underlying niceness they show.


Film: Ugly
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Girish Kulkarni, Vineeth Kumar Singh, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Surveen Chawla, Siddhant Kapoor, Anshika Shrivastava
Rating: (Four stars)

What’s it about:

A 10-year-old girl disappears. Everybody (her divorced parents included) becomes a suspect in a possible kidnapping case. Will a tough-as-nails police chief (also the girl’s stepfather) crack the case in time? ‘I only want lead roles’ actor Rahul Kapoor (Bhat) picks up his beti Kali (Shrivastava) for his weekly visit. Hours before, his ex-wife, a stay-at-home mom Shalini (Kolhapure) has a gun in her mouth and would’ve pulled the trigger had her daughter not knocked on the door. She loves her dad’s visits and despite the fact that he barely even looks at her when he does arrive, she kicks up a fuss when her mother doesn’t seem interested in finding out why he’s late. Dad takes her along to his agent Chaitanya’s (Singh’s) and leaves her in his car as he waits to collect his script. Agent isn’t home and arrives a little later to inform his friend/client that his daughter’s not in the car. Panicked, they rush down and ask around, find Kali’s iPhone will a mask-and-toys seller, who loses it and makes a run for it, as the men follow in hot pursuit, which ends when he’s killed by a speeding car. Rahul and Chaitanya turn up at a police station to file their case. On-duty in-charge Inspector Jadhav (Kulkarni) doesn’t seem the least bit interested until it transpires that the ‘gone girl’ is Shoumik Bose/Detection Saheb’s (Roy’s) stepdaughter. Bose is convinced Rahul’s responsible for Kali’s disappearance. He has his reasons. He hates the guy like sin, far more than he hates his whiskeyed-up wife, her always-in-trouble brother (Kapoor) and favour-seeking family. He’s persistent about about finding the little girl though and works up a storm, sending his lackeys into a feverish pitch to find the girl.

What’s hot:

You can’t look away, no matter how brutal and how manipulative the story gets with each twist and turn. It’s refreshing to find each character irredeemable and selfish, no matter how many flashes of an underlying niceness they show. Desperation, frustration, indignation, exasperation are all there on continuous loop. Performance-wise, Roy and Kulkarni, in particular, are consistently brilliant. Singh comes a close third. There’s a method behind the seeming madness that plays out and the chaos is caressed by an unseen design. Kashyap helms this one with an unflinching eye and a steady, seemingly mundane yet utterly realistic approach (Bhat’s first scene with Kulkarni, for example) that has you hooked. In the end, you realise that the outcome doesn’t excite as much as the voyeuristic pleasure of watching the chain of events play out. A spoiler can’t hurt this film, and that is saying a lot!

What’s not:

Any sort of relief in a film that revels in the ‘Ugly’ness of the human condition would be welcome, however brief. The film isn’t entirely without fault. One big loophole, in particular, is how Rakhee (Chawla) is conveniently left out of investigations (as if she was never a suspect to begin with). Roy as wire-tapping ‘Big Brother’ Bose gets a carte-blanche to run the show (private torture chamber/detention cells et al) as he sees fit. Surely, he must report in to a higher authority? And despite the reasons offered, it’s highly improbable the television media would not get wind of a high-profile kidnapping through their various khabrus.

What to do:

Do not miss this film. It may be all things dark and forbidding this festive season, but it is, with flaws and all, one of the best films you’ll watch this year.

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