Review: 'Ugly' unsettling but compelling

Review: 'Ugly' unsettling but compelling

Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhatt, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Surveen Chawla, Girish Kulkarni, Vineet Kumar Singh

A dark, disturbing thriller that plays out in a world totally devoid of a moral core, 'Ugly' is yet another Anurag Kashyap probe into the recesses of twisted minds and scalded souls.
It paints a portrait that is as ugly as the title promises it will be, but nothing can prepare the audience for the shocking acts of despair that the deeply flawed characters resort to as they struggle to dig their way out of quagmires of their own making.

'Ugly' does not flinch from uttering the most distressing of truths, but its unrelenting study of sheer evil works only in parts.

The initial scenes give way to a quick build-up of tension, but the shock of the disappearance of an adorable ten-year-old girl – the plot flashpoint that sparks off panic among all concerned – does not hold up for long as the screenplay takes numerous detours involving a multiplicity of characters.

The story revolves around three principal figures – a struggling actor (Rahul Bhat), his alcoholic ex-wife (Tejaswini Kolhapure) and a brutal policeman (Ronit Roy) now married to the woman.

The trio is surrounded by a bunch of many other men and women that are out to con each other as the mystery of the missing girl deepens and the cops thrash about to get to the bottom of the truth.

Shot in dimly lit spaces that are clearly supposed to reflect the darkness in the hearts of the characters, 'Ugly' makes its point about greed with stunning effect, which culminates in what is a near-naked dance by a man who thinks that he has outwitted everyone else in the mad scramble.

The sequence is imbued with black humour, a commodity that the Kashyap does not have the luxury of playing around with too much given the gravity of the theme.

But he does inject some wit into the proceedings via the person of an earthy police inspector (Marathi actor Girish Kulkarni in his first Bollywood role) who loses no opportunity to make life miserable for the two principal suspects – the aspiring actor and his casting agent (Vineet Kumar Singh).

Kulkarni is at the centre of two standout scenes. In one,he engages the actor and his agent in a conversation about Bollywood stars that have abandoned their real names. In the other, he explains to his boss the implications of a raunchy song performed by a fictional film actress (Surveen Chawla), unhappily married but, unlike the emotionally battered cop's wife, not willing to go down without a fight.
'Ugly', aided by a clutch of great performances and many a gut-wrenching sequence, is disquieting but compelling viewing.

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