‘UGLY’ Stays True To Its Title, But Is Such An Anti-Climax

Having screened at the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and received rave reviews, there is obviously a huge expectation from a film like ‘Ugly’, directed by Anurag Kashyap.

Ugly Theatrical Poster - 2013

Ugly Theatrical Poster – 2013

And to be honest and really honest, the efforts of the ace director need to be appreciated for bringing out such realistic performances from almost all its lead characters. It is rare that an Indian film (the last I remember was Chandni Bar (Madhur Bhandarkar) and Kashyap’s Black Friday) is so realistic in its treatment and execution. ‘Ugly’ is probably one of those few films that breaks the rules of the typical Bollywood style of filmmaking.

Yet, in spite of being extremely realistic, hatke in style and having some really nice cinematography, the experience is merely satisfactory.

Kali (excellently played by Anshika Srivastava) gets kidnapped when her father Rahul (Rahul Bhatt) leaves her inside his car when he goes to collect a document from his friend. Rahul’s friend Chaitanya (Vineet Singh) tells him that his daughter is missing. When Rahul comes to the police station to lodge a formal complaint, he is confronted by Inspector Jadhav (Girish Kulkarni) who finds out that Kali is Shalini (Rahul’s divorced wife/Tejaswini Kolhapure) and ACP Shoumik Bose’s (Ronit Roy) daughter. Kali’s kidnapping gives Shoumik a chance to take revenge from Rahul for an incident of the past and he leaves no stone unturned to find his daughter back. And this is where ‘Ugly’ is ugliest in terms of Kashyap’s storytelling.

However, certain scenes in the film seem overstretched, especially when Inspector Jadhav questions Rahul over his ‘filmy’ name. While it infuses a laugh with its natural humour, it stretches a tad too long. Similarly, a scene where Chaitanya is interrogated in prison is reminiscent of a scene in Black Friday. And the biggest disappointment is the climax. Watch it yourself to experience!

For all through the 1 hour and 50 minutes, ‘Ugly’ treads along with certain twists and turns and keeps one at the edge of their seat. But it is the last ten minutes where ‘Ugly’ is a complete anti-climax.

‘Ugly’ stays true to its title and offers one plenty to ponder. Anurag Kashyap weaves magic with his actors, but sadly tells a story with too many loose ends. A little back story of the characters wouldn’t have done any harm. While Anurag Kashyap did release a five-minute short film ‘Kali-Katha’ (Watch it on YouTube) which gives a glimpse of Rahul, Shalini and Chaitanya’s character, Shoumik’s back story isn’t unveiled at all. At the same time, certain disjointed plot points leave one with a little more to think.

There are no white characters and no black characters in ‘Ugly’. Each character has shades of grey. And this keeps the thrill factor of the film alive.

Girish Kulkarni as Inspector Jadhav gets a perfect launch in Hindi Cinema. Having directed and acted in several National-award winning films in Marathi, Girish proves his mettle as an actor for the first time in Hindi cinema and he doesn’t disappoint a bit. It’s a terrific performance that deserves more than just applause.

Rahul Bhatt who was last seen in a dud called ‘Nayee Padosan’ makes a comeback after almost twelve years in a role that seemed tailor made for him.

Tejaswini Kolhapure as Shalini gets a role that will surely be talked about. Siddhant Kapoor is good in a small role.

Vineet Singh (Shorts/Bombay Talkies-Murabba) is the surprise package of ‘Ugly’. For many who would have seen him in a restrained role, be prepared to get surprised.

But ultimately ‘Ugly’ for me is all about Ronit Roy’s act as Shoumik Bose. The actor, surely has had a strong second innings in Bollywood as compared to his early days. After working with Anurag Kashyap in Udaan as the abusive father, Ronit Roy once again delivers a performance that speaks volumes of him as an actor. With less words and more expressive eyes, this one is surely a performance worthy of some awards.

And finally Anurag Kashyap. While many claim to say that the director just lost his way post Gangs Of Wasseypur II (which was his most commercial venture till date), the filmmaker returns to his roots of making dark, gritty films. While ‘Ugly’ might not be his best since Black Friday, it is surely a well-made film. A diehard Anurag Kashyap fan may just not be able to miss this one. And being an admirer of his work, I look forward with much eagerness for ‘Bombay Velvet’!

Final Verdict: ‘Ugly’ is a gripping film that stays true to its title. But in the end, it is such an anti-climax!

 

Rating: ***

Queen – Every Man Must Watch This Film!

The very concept that a woman goes for her Honeymoon, all by herself, was enough for me to drag myself to the theatre. The promos of ‘Queen’ always were a refreshing, fresh take from the otherwise serious women-centric films and I had high expectations from the Kangana Ranaut starrer. Fortunately, ‘Queen’ has managed to surpass it and has made a huge impression.

Queen - Theatrical Poster

Queen – Theatrical Poster

As always said in my reviews, a film doesn’t need a rich, glorious star-cast, a larger-than-life production design. All it needs is a simple sense of storytelling enough to keep one glued for the time one is at the theatre. And ‘Queen’ is just that kind of film. Yes, it is flawed at places, drifts away shamelessly in the second half, but which other cliché Bollywood film hasn’t been in that league before?

Coming to the central premise, Rani a.k.a Queen (Kangana Ranaut), a young girl, from Rajaouri, is shattered when her beau, Vijay (Rajkumar Rao), calls of the wedding in the last minute. While, Rani does brood over the break-up, she quickly manages to put her rona dhona aside and decides to take the control of her life in her own hands, and decides to go for her honeymoon to Paris, all alone. It is this journey, which changes her completely from a shy, naïve, small-town woman into a bold, sexy, confident lady. It is this transformation in Queen that we see makes the film more than just an entertaining experience.

Queen, is not just is a tale about a woman redeeming herself from the pressures of society, marriage, but it is also a film that transpires a change in the outlook of how small-town girls are perceived. Often regarded to be buried under the control of men, Queen breaks the stereotype and manages to rise strong and bring a change in the outlook. The film does bear a small resemblance to Sridevi’s ‘English Vinglish’, in terms of concept, but it is completely different in its treatment.

Another high point of Queen is undoubtedly its writing, razor-sharp dialogues (additionally penned by Kangana, herself) and the way the film has managed to portray the women. While Kangana’s character is shown transforming from a shy, innocent to a bold, confident woman, there is also Vijaylakshmi’s (Lisa Haydon) character, which shows that there are women in this world, who equally crave for the pleasures of life as much as men, and ‘Queen’ has managed to portray that other-side of a woman pretty well. Reiterating a line from what Vidya Balan had said on ‘Koffee With Karan’, “Women want it, need it, and do it as much as men do!”

Queen is also richly colourful, fresh and refreshing and the locales of Amsterdam and Paris are a delight to watch. Music by Amit Trivedi holds the film tight and it is after a long time that I say, there isn’t a single track that is sloppy or sluggish. And the best part of the music is that, each track blends with the transformation that Queen is going through.

On the flipside, the film unnecessarily drags into the second hour, when Queen makes her trip to Amsterdam, her tryst at an Italian joint and her bid to make money by selling gol-guppas. While these moments could have been rushed, Vikas Bahl stretches them a bit too much.

But again, these errors are completely forgiven for there is that pleasing performance from Kangana Ranaut, which compensates for all the glitches. Kangana as Queen is as real and close that Hindi cinema can get in terms of portraying a woman. The actress pitches in a fine performance, which is so beautiful, thought-provoking and coming of age. As Rani, Kangana gets her act so right, that one could continue to be in awe of her performance, even after leaving the theatres, especially the ‘Hungama’ act just before the interval. It’s hard to take your eyes off her in that scene!

Every emotion is so wonderfully captured, so beautifully played by her, that I wondered if she is acting or really playing her own self. That’s how powerful, a performance it is.

Rajkumar Rao, as Vijay, is wonderful. In a film, which is completely dominated by Kangana, Rajkumar plays the baddie with ease. Baddie because, as women, one would love to hate that kind of a man!

Vikas Bahl, in his second outing after Chillar Party, gets his act nearly perfect. It takes courage, in a country like India, to try something unabashedly different, and it is a delight to see Vikas’s skilled work paying off. Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane also deserve applause for producing a film like ‘Queen’.

Needless to say, the film may be liked mostly by people who prefer a good story over rich looks. But it is surely a film that one cannot ignore!

Looks like the industry is coming terms to accept concepts revolving around women and they aren’t just people meant to run around trees. Kahaani, The Dirty Picture, Highway and now Queen! Take a bow!

Final Verdict: Queen is a film that is sweet, innocent and at the same time terrific. A coming-of-age film that shows the powerful transformation of women, in real, reel life and in Bollywood! While there is no doubt that women may love this film, it is a strict advice for all men to watch this film. Trust me, it will touch your hard hearts, as much as it did mine!

P:S – If there is anything special as a man you want to do this Women’s Day, take your sister, mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend to watch Queen!

Rating: ****