Somewhere amidst the chaos of looking for a kidnapped child, a cop explains to his superior the words and meaning of an item song that one of the suspects dances for in a movie. It is a classic example of why Anurag Kashyap is the king of alternate cinema. There is satire wrapped around and dripping all over humor that Kashyap manages to find in the unlikeliest of situations. The genius of Anurag shows up at every juncture in the movie. He shows how the best storytellers have a way about portraying their skills.
Ugly is the story of a kidnapping. A 10 year old girl, who disappears from a car, is kidnapped. Then like the layers of an onion, the plot unravels, bit by bit. Kashyap uses cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis’ skills to play with the lighting and the shadows, silhouettes and emotions. There is the mother, brilliantly played by Tejaswini Kolhapure, torn in life by the way it turned out, divorced once and then married to a cynical, angry and chauvinistic husband, besides being a brilliant and dutiful cop. Shoumik Bose(Ronit Roy). Her first husband Rahul(Rahul Bhat) plays the irresponsible dad, obsessed with making it in the world of movies, virtually broke, confused and detestable in spite of being bereft of natural villainy. His friend Chaitanya(Vineet Singh) is a casting director.
Ugly uses the individual characters to depict how true Rusty was in True Detective when he says ‘man is the cruelest animal’. From the woman who uses her own daughter’s kidnapping to have her own money to the men who use the situation to settle old scores, the friend who doesn’t have qualms about gaining advantage unfairly to the brother who uses his sister’s helplessness for his own end, Ugly is all about ugly people. It is one of the reasons why there are a lot of dark scenes in the movie, along with shots of filth across the city.
In Ugly, Anurag paints a dismal picture, one so negative you would be reminded of Huxley and his depiction of civilization as it would end up being one day. The background score by GV Prakash Kumar pampers Anurag’s depiction with a subtly intimidating, haunting, sometimes jarring nature. Individual characters are molded, scene by scene, incident by incident until we arrive at the climax, a crescendo of ugliness that shows how everyone involved is, in an ugly manner, responsible for a gruesome incident. While Anurag doesn’t miss out on any chance to spit on society, cops or the movie industry, the flawless performance of his actors, laced with real emotions and armed with true, raw dialogues should also be lauded.
Ugly, hence is not about the script, as much as it is about the screenplay – a Memento like depiction where things keep running forward and backward, keeping the audience on the edge at all times. It is perfection as far as dark drama goes, peeling the facades of humans and showing selfish, self-centered, conniving people of what they truly are against the backdrop of something tender, like the disappearance of a kid, to highlight the ugliness. Eventually, Anurag shows how society, including even the needy parents of an innocent kid, tries to make the most of a tragedy.
Ugly is laced with subtle humor and close-up shots, keeping you involved. It is not a movie that only serious cinema lovers will enjoy. It is a movie every movie lover would like. The way Anurag portrays mannerisms, quirks, everyday conversations during real life incidents, is brilliant, almost aesthetic. The amount of detail that has gone into every scene, to create every ambience, every dialogue, every like is just respect-worthy. Ronit Roy stands out in particular in a role he has already portrayed in Udaan. He could be typecast in such roles, given how his intensity, a sadistic and sad intensity, attrsacts you. Nevertheless, he along with the cast that played the roles of cops assisting him, make sure you get a peep into the functioning, thinking and talking styles of cops, unadulterated by glitz and glamor added by unrealistic movie makers. All in all, it is a movie one can keep raving about and yet, a movie each person will interpret in his own way. It is a study in good cinema!view less