Saturday, December 27, 2014


Grimy Mirror 
The film’s title is apt—everybody in the film exists in a moral vacuum of spiritual ugliness, cruelty and perversion. Unhappiness pervades the dark and grimy frames of the film, which is, nonetheless so real that the viewer wishes never to cross anybody like those characters, especially not the cops.
 In a long, darkly humorous scene in Ugly, Rahul (Bhatt) and his casting director friend Chaitanya (Vineet Kumar Singh) go to the police station to report the kidnapping of the former’s daughter Kali (Anshika Shrivastava), and the droll cop on duty, Jadhav (Girish Kulkarni), questions them about everything but the missing child.
 Rahul’s ex-wife Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure) is now married to a high-ranking cop Shoumik Bose (Ronit Roy), who married her to avenge an earlier rejection, and treats her so badly that she contemplates suicide, or drinks, oblivious that her husband has tapped her phone and listens to her conversations. Shalini’s unlikely confidante is Rakhee (Surveen Chawla), a C-grade item girl, who is having an affair with Rahul.  Her brother (Siddhant Kapoor), a petty hood also hovers around the edges of her existence. It’s a small world and everybody’s is suspect.

Bose puts all hands on the task of hunting for his step-daughter and for most part Ugly is a police procedural, that runs all over the most drab and grimy parts of the city.  The atmosphere is dank, the characters unbelievably venal; there is not an iota of sunshine, joy or kindness in the film.
Rahul and Shoumik, whose rivalry goes back to college, and includes Shalini in a nasty love triangle, try to show each other down, and none of them really care about the child. Perhaps the cops on the trail (and the audience) want to know what happened to Kali, because the fate of a kidnapped pretty little girl is too awful to contemplate. But for her parents, she is just a pawn in their game of inflicting emotional cruelty on one another. Kali becomes an excuse for all the characters to go after the ransom money and escape their own sordid lives. 
For most part, as the search for Kali is launched, the film is gripping, but it gets repetitive after a point, as the cops keep picking up Rahul and Chaitanya as suspects. It is also not clear why a financially strapped Chaitanya pays Rahul’s bills, and why Shalini and Siddhant, are on the skids in spite of their well off parents.
 Kashyap always puts together a fine cast of actor who are right of their parts, and here too every actor looks like he or she belongs to that milieu. Award winning Marathi film and stage actor Girish Kulkarni makes his Hindi film debut and walks off with every scene he is in. Bhatt and Singh reproduce the air of seediness that goes with the film industry’s lowest rung, while Roy’s grim righteousness is truly scary. A film that made to be appreciated...but maybe not to be liked or enjoyed.


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