Ugly won't make your Christmas merry: it is a simple, hard-hitting and dark movie. It shows you how we mess up our own lives because of ego, jealousy and misunderstood notions of people around us.
Director Anurag Kashyap earned critical acclaim two years ago for Gangs of Wasseypur, a movie about greed and violence in small-town India. Ugly is set in Mumbai and if not more powerful than Gangs of Wasseypur it is definitely worthy of featuring somewhere on top of Kashyap's best films' list. For a film written and directed by Kashyap, actors like Ronit Roy and Vineet Kumar Singh (Gangs of Wasseypur) are added advantage.
Ugly does not have over-loaded music, loud background or any of those cliches most Bollywood films survive on. And, without the help of any of these formuale, it still manages to put across its message. Ugly traces a week into the lives of people around a ten-year-old girl Kali (Anshika Shrivastava) who is kidnapped. Unlike Kashyap's movies, Ugly does not have too much of political and social innuendos. This one is about human follies and emotions.
Ronit Roy plays Shoumik Bose, a character who is indifferent to the people he loves the most. He is brilliant in the movie and for once he is not playing an alcoholic (Udaan) or wife-beater (2 States).
Rahut Bhatt is convincing as the bashed-up unmployed man, waiting for the big break in Bollywood and losing all of his personal relations (wife and the kid) in the process. The character of Surveen Chawla, on the other hand, looks forced. Ugly was meant to be her debut movie as well but due to delay in the release, Sushant Singh-Jay Bhanushali-starrer Hate Story 2 was what hit theatres earlier. Chawla is a little over-the-top as a model-actor who is happy changing her partners for the sake of money and is forever decked up in startling blue lipstick and eye-shadow. Tejaswini Kolhapure plays a battered wife and brings out the pain of a barren life perfectly.
Unlike the Kashyap-style that we know, Ugly does not have excessive violence. Rather than blood and gunshots all over the screen, all we see is the turmoil of a character just before violence. By using blank screens and abrupt cuts, Kashyap manages to keep the suspense alive and bring across crucial twists.
Sample some of the characters where Kahsyap brings out the worst human follies:
A struggling actor's wife and child leave him because he cannot provide for them well. He is allowed to meet his daughter only once a week. He also happens to be the one who left her all alone when she is kidnapped. The scenes of father's pain and struggle with guilt prove Kashyap's brilliance as director. When the father rushes to the police station, he is told, "Humein kya pata, tune apni beti ko gayab karwaya hai." The man cannot be expected to think rationally but he does. Because for once, he might be able to pull off his responsibilities towards the estranged wife and kid. Painting the man's struggle with one's own follies to prove to himself that he is not worthless is what Kashyap achieves with Ugly.
A woman is married to a top police officer but all she has got is the social benefits of getting married. She is well provided for, but does not have money of her own. His husband taps her phone and listens to her conversations along with his colleagues. The suffocation of a marriage that happened out of convenience and has now turned into a liability. A husband who tells you, "Do peg laga ke so jaao," when you tell him you feel alone is scary.
A friend who has never really been much of a friend and yet has been tagging along all your life. A friend who does not think twice before using your problem to solve his issues, even if it means trouble for you.
Ugly, in one simple line, is about how we tend to lose greater things in life because we are too stuck on our own perceptions and insecurities.
Watch the movie for brilliance and for its simple, touching and mind-blowing messaage. Watch it for Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhatt and Vineet Kumar Singh. Do not watch the film if you do not like being subjected to the dark and intense feelings of guilt, realisation and loss. Skip the movie if blood and shootouts is all you want to see in an Anurag Kashyap venture.