Wednesday, December 31, 2014

'Ugly' is Beautiful

And yet another year ends. Not such an eventful year but yes, a rather good one. At least nothing bad happened to me. In this world, at such a time when the human behaviour has gone to such a negative level that anything bad can happen to anybody at anytime, I am rather pleased that I was not at the receiving end of any such mishappening. Anyways, this very blogpost is not yet another typical year ender blogpost. This is about Anurag Kashyap's recent release 'Ugly', about the film and about that same negative human behaviour that the film is all about and what I was referring to earlier.

'Ugly' was premiered at last year's Cannes film festival in director's fortnight section and has been making news since then. First for its wonderful response at the premiere and then for the controversy regarding that "smoking is injurious to health" message forced to be put in by the indian censor board, it was always in the news for all sorts of reasons. With the limelight, the wait and anticipation for the movie was also increasing and that's why I couldn't wait for much longer after its release. And after watching the movie, I must admit the wait and anticipation was all worth it. It is simply the best movie that I watched this whole year and also amongst the best that I ever watched.

Ugly on the outset is a story of the kidnapping of a 10 years old girl who is the step-daughter of a top cop of Mumbai police. She was away with her biological father on the routine weekly meeting day (as per divorce settlements) when she was abducted in the broad daylight. The incidents that follow is the whole movie. The police investigation, the trust issues, the betrayals and the greed everything characterises the theme of the movie and at the end the kidnapping comes out to be the side plot of the movie. The movie comes out to be all about the human behaviours, the greed, the distrust and the vengeance.

The movie starts off with a chase sequence wherein the biological father of the girl and his friend are chasing the suspected kidnapper in the streets of movie. Being an Anurag Kashyap fan, you are reminded of the iconic chase sequence from the movie Black Friday. As the scene goes on building upon you and you start to have that feel of Kashyap's film-making, bam, the suspected kidnapper is struck by a running car. His body parts are shattered all over the road and the first indication of the ugliness of the movie is there before you. The scene moves to that of a police station wherein the complaint of the kidnapping is being lodged.

There are many good sequences in the movie but this police station sequence, in the hindsight, appears to be the best of the movie and one of the best noir-sequences of all time. The sequence moves from the hapless father lodging the complaint to him teaching the police officer how to take and save pictures in contacts of his phone. The scene seems to overstay its welcome and looks like it is stretched just too long. You laugh at the irrelevance but then in the end of the movie you are struck by the fact that this very irrelevance is the total theme of the movie. The whole movie seems to be about the suspense of the kidnapping interspersed with too many irrelevant sub-plots. Sometimes even these irrelevant plots would irritate you but then at the end of it all you find out that these irrelevant sub-plots were actually the main plot of the movie.

The love triangle of the campus in the backdrop leading to the revengeful acts in the present, the seduction of the husband's friend just in reply of a casual appreciation of her beauty, the greed for money are all the sub-plots of the story. They seem to be irrelevant but in the end lead to the grotesque climax. These human behaviours lead the police investigation to a total awry path leading to an ugly end of, what in the end seems to be, a shameful story.

Anurag Kashyap is totally back in the form with his dark comedy shot in the filthy dark rooms of the Mumbai suburb. If he has to do the useless cameos in movies like Happy New Year and Bhootnath Returns to earn money to make movies like this, I am all okay with it. The way he has used all the actors is just commendable. Ronit Roy as the cop has come up as the most dependable actor lately. He is still in the 'Udaan' mode and seems too comfortable as a tough cop and a stern authoritative husband. Tejaswini Kolhapure as the alcoholic wife and Rahul Bhat as the struggling actor and the divorced biological father  have done justice to their role. Special mention must be made of two actors. National award winning marathi actor Girish Kulkarni and Vineet Kumar Singh are more than impressive and must be appreciated for making few of the sequences of the movie special. Dialogues are raw reminding you of the dialogues from a Tarantino movie. The background score keeps up with the tone of the movie. All in all, I must say, 'Ugly' is beautiful.

[In the end, a scene from the movie. Just watch out for Girish Kulkarni:]

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