Review: Ugly

Ugly (Dir.: Anurag Kashyap; Cast: Rahul Bhat, Ronit Roy, Vineet Singh et al.)

Anurag Kashyap has done it again. With Ugly, Anurag Kashyap, without doubt one of the best active Indian directors, has woven another masterful work around the contemporary society. It is being marketed as “a dark psychological thriller on the surface and an emotional drama within” and the description fits this gem of a film to the tee.

A kidnapping mystery serves as the backdrop for a thrilling, and at times horrifying, tale of the darker human emotions which makes for a juicy, spicy drama. Thematically disturbing, Ugly is anything but an easy watch. But despite the monstrosities on display, it’s difficult to take your eyes off the screen. The intertwining of motives, the layers in the characters’ pasts and all the unresolved issues that keep emerging as the film progresses, keeps one riveted to this fantastic tale.

The icing on the cake is the humour in mundane situations which Anurag is so adept in extracting out of our everyday activities and interactions. It is the humour in fact that sweetens the bitter pill that Ugly is, making it “humane” to watch.

I could not help but notice how this brilliant film mirrors another masterpiece of Indian cinema, Sholay, though in a negative sort of way. There is a pair of friends here just like in Sholay. Like Sholay, Ugly too features a chase sequence and characters with past scores to settle. Only, the shades of the characters and their friendship here are way more dark and grim. If Mehbooba in Sholay was a precursor to the item songs of the present era, Ugly features a parody of item songs, which doubles as the source of a comic sequence. The missing link between the two films is a reference to Amitabh Bachchan which, in the true spirit of Ugly and Anurag Kashyap (think Gangs of Wasseypur), is half in reverence and half in jest.

And that’s what Ugly is – a mirror held to us, for us to have a look at our demons within and also to have a laugh about how silly those demons ultimately are.

Ugly IMDb link

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