‘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: ***




The sharp rays of the morning sun hit hard on Sam’s face as he woke up, baffled, finding himself at an under construction site. His head was aching terribly as he rubbed his palms trying to ease the pain a bit. He glanced at his broken watch, which showed the time. 9:00 AM. He stared at his torn shirt laden with blood stains and a half gulped bottle of country liquor.

‘Where am I?’ he wondered. ‘How did I land here?’ Sam didn’t remember a thing that morning as he seemed to be completely lost in thought. The continuous honking of vehicles and sound of the latest Tamil songs made him realise that he was probably near the central bus stand and taken refuge at the under construction site soon to be developed into a palatial shopping mall.                                                 


He couldn’t bear the pain in his head any longer and decided to get himself a tea. He picked up his broken pair of Paragon chappals, lifted his lungi and wrapped it at knee length giving a glimpse of his striped shorts and walked down the stairs. He put his hand into his short pocket and came out with a stinking 10 rupee note. That is all he had.

‘It will help me buy a tea, a plate of bhajji and a smoke’, he said to himself. He walked to the nearest shop at the bus stand, which was filled to the brim with customers. And there were conductors too discussing how a fellow member of theirs eloped with a wife of one of their best friends.

‘Anna orru tea, orru plate bhajji’ (Brother, one tea and one plate of bhajji), he ordered to an elderly man, sitting at the galla, counting the morning cash. As Sam munched on the bhajjis and sipped his tea, his eyes caught the sight of a few policemen walking towards this very shop. 

Sam began to munch faster and gulped the piping hot tea as if it was cold water. The man at the galla and others watched blankly as Sam rushed through his act. One of the policeman saw Sam and pointed towards him. He left the plate of bhajji unfinished, quickly gave the money, took his slippers in his hand and began running as if he was running a marathon. 

The policemen also began to chase him with full might and force trying to catch him by the collar, sometimes coming close to catching him and on most occasions Sam escaping the clutches of the policemen.


Finally, hours later, after running through slums, shanty localities, crowded streets, the policemen had succeeded in their efforts to catch hold of Sam, who was completely at loss of breath. Panting heavily he was brought to the police station and put behind bars. 

A hefty hawaldar took the lathi and entered his cell and trashed him black and blue on his back and legs. He came out with a broken stick but said to his senior officer that Sam didn’t speak anything. All he did was screamed and screech with pain. He also showed the senior officer something, the sight of which startled the officer.

The officer straight away headed to the cell and caught hold of Sam by his hair. He yelled out in pain as the officer, with his sharp nails pressed one of Sam’s bruises.

‘Common, speak up. Speak up or else, you know our tactics of getting things out’, he said pressing the wound harder.

‘I don’t know what you are talking about’, Sam said whining in pain.

‘Don’t try to act smart. We know everything. We want to know from your mouth. Common speak up you bastard. Why did you kill the minister’s son?’

‘I don’t know, which minister’s son, what you are talking about? Please…for god’s sake let me go. Please, I haven’t killed anyone’, pleaded Sam.

‘Then why did you run when you saw us at the tea-stall? Why did you get scared on seeing us approach Annachi’s stall? Why? Answer me now?’ the officer spoke with a sense of authority. He realised that he has got his man and it was a matter of time until everything, every detail was revealed.

Just as he was continuing with his interrogation, his junior subordinate came and said that Sam wasn’t the man they were looking for and that another team from the police station has managed to get hold of the real murderer, who murdered the minister’s son.

The officer couldn’t believe what he heard but nodded his head in agreement. Yet, there were thoughts crawling in his head thinking why Sam ran as fast as he could, on seeing them, giving the cops the intuition that he was the murderer. Or maybe it was his blood-stained shirt. Something was truly fishy here, he wondered and at that moment his eyes went into the thing that his subordinate had showed him, which had left him surprised. It was a small surgical knife and a wedding photo of Sam and his wife.


He straight away walked back into the cell and caught hold of Sam by the collar. ‘Okay, so now that you haven’t murdered the minister’s son, you have murdered someone else. Who’s it?’

‘I am telling you, I didn’t murder anyone, please let me go’, Sam was trying to defend himself as much as he could. But not until, the officer showed him the surgical knife and the photo.

The sight of the photo angered Sam and he screamed on top of his voice, ‘Yes! I killed Rachel, I killed her.’

Sam couldn’t hold back his tears and began weeping, while the officer wondered what could have been the motive.

‘I loved Rachel from the bottom of my heart. Even she loved me and it had been three years since we were married. We desperately wanted a child. But then, it just couldn’t happen,’ said a teary-eyed Sam.

‘Is that the reason you killed her, because she couldn’t bear you a child?’

‘No’, Sam said wiping his tears off and sounding stern.

‘Then why? And why did you run when you saw us?’ asked the officer, sounding confused at the turn of events.

‘She slept with someone and I couldn’t bear that sight of her being with someone else. So I killed her with the surgical knife. I ran on seeing you because I feared my life. I did not want to kill Rachel, but that horrifying sight was just not bearable,” said Sam.

‘She had an extra-marital affair, you mean? But you said she loved you equally?”

‘No, she slept with another woman!’