‘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: ***

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2 States: Krrish and Ananya are the new Raj and Simran

Let’s get this straight. ‘2 States’ as a film may be liked by many but also may be equally disliked by many. Reason: the romance between our lead pair, the Punjabi, Krrish, and the Tam-Brahm, Ananya, isn’t like the cliché romance that Bollywood boasts of. Yes, it is filmy, frothy, glossy (true to producer Karan Johar’s style of filmmaking) but at the same time its real and manages to give a near-perfect take on modern relationships. Like ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’, even ‘2 States’ has characters that one can relate to, making the film stand out over the regular run-of-the-mill romances that the Bollywood has churned out over the years.

2_states_new_poster

A dialogue in the film by Krrish (Arjun Kapoor) goes: ‘Agar India me shaadi karni ho toh ladke ke family ko ladki ki family pasand aani chahiye. Aur ladki ke family ko ladkon ka. Aur agar uske baad thoda pyaar bach jaaye to ladka aur ladki pyaar kar lenge’.

To put it in a nut-shell the above dialogue sums up the basic premise of Chetan Bhagat’s autobiographical ‘2 States’, adapted by debutant director Abhishek Varman on the big screen.

Krrish (Arjun Kapoor), a Punjabi munda, falls in love with Ananya (Alia Bhatt), a Tam-Brahm, while studying at IIM-Ahmedabad. Their marital confusion begins when they relocate after their finishing school at two different locations. While they want to get married they have to convince their families to like each other, which by Indian standards, is considered as the ‘Grand Finale’ before the next stage of the relationship – marriage!

The best part about Varman’s direction is that he manages to stay true to the book, partly, at the same time adds his visual flavour and imagination. For all who have read the book, it is delightfully humorous to see Krrish and Ananya’s love story and their strategies to get their parents together.

The flaw however remains is that Varman stereotypes the Punjabis and the Tamilians using traits of racism, education, food and more. Another thing is that ‘2 States’, at 2 hours and 30 minutes, seems a little stretched as Krrish-Ananya, try their level best to win over their parents at the same time work on their relationship.

But again Varman bounces back with a hard-hitting climax that brings a smile to your face at the same time a tear or two. Credit also must be given to him for handling certain scenes, especially between Krrish and his alcoholic father (Ronit Roy), with extreme maturity and high sensitivity.

‘2 States’ also stands out from other romances as the dialogues penned by Hussain Dalal seem like day-to-day conversations, making the film more realistic in many ways. Whether it is Krrish-Ananya’s pre-maritaal sex talks or the Punjabi mother v/s Tamilian mother battling out on ‘how marriages are done in a community’, these conversations seem extremely realistic, giving a glimpse of how modern society actually behaves.

When it is a Karan Johar production, it is but obvious that we get to see a visual canvas on screen. And 2 States again is colourfully and visually enriching. Binod Pradhan exemplifies each frame with such detailing that it looks like one painting on celluloid. While Namrata Rao’s editing could have easily trimmed the film by a few minutes, it still is sleek and extremely inflow with the film.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is a delight to hear and it is probably after ‘Taare Zameen Par’ that the trio has managed to come-up with a score which is so soulful. ‘Offo’, ‘Mast Magan’, ‘Chandaniyaan’ and ‘Locha-E-Ulfat’, my clear favourites. When was the last time, one had so many tracks as favourites?

And now coming to the performances:
A film like 2 States could have easily fallen in the trap of becoming another cheesy romance if not for its characters. Both Arjun and Alia make Krrish-Ananya as convincing as any modern Indian couple. Be it their practicality in understanding relationships, their ambitions, their love and hate for their respective families, Krrish-Ananya surely set an example of modern couples.

Arjun Kapoor is fantastic and it is a delight to see him as the sober romantic dude shedding his rugged image. After ‘Gunday’ this is his most powerful performance as an actor and he surprises everyone with his act.

Alia Bhatt has once again, after Highway, shown that she is here to stay and go a long way. As Ananya, she is simply fantastic and oozes with confidence. And she manages to pull off the Tamilian character (I say so being a Tam-Brahm myself) with much conviction.

Revathy and Shiv Subramaniam are first-rate and so is Amrita Singh as the loud Punjabi mother.

Ronit Roy is outstanding in his small role as the alcoholic father. After Udaan, this performance is sure to win him the awards at major ceremonies. He is completely in character that one loves to hate him until the climax!

But the lead pair stands out convincingly and bowl-over with their realistic act.

Final Verdict: To compare 2 States with DDLJ would be a sin in many ways (as the latter is and will always be a classic), but all I can say is that it’s time to move over DDLJ, Raj and Simran and welcome Krrish and Ananya into our world! The film stands out from many clichéd romances and is fresh like a breath of air. When we have gone for so many romances, that have lacked depth, 2 States is certainly far more enjoyable and applauding! It certainly deserves a watch.

Rating: *** 1/2

– Rahul Iyer –