Ugly - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

The repulsion you feel towards Ugly is what makes it a good film. A thriller that makes you uncomfortable from within.



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It is an ugly world out there, indeed. And it is not a world of under-world dons or glamorous stars - we are used to seeing the ugly sides of those worlds and pretty much know what to expect. It is that of people like (most of) us, who have seen bad times, very bad times - who at one point or another have considered a drastic step, an irrational one to relieve ourselves of our miseries. No relationship is spared, closest of bonds are questioned. Each character's selfishness is brought forth to your shock. Ugly never allows you a moment of comfort, and that's why the film is a well-made one.

On the outside, Ugly is about a kidnapped 10-year old girl. About half an hour into the film, I wondered why Anurag Kashyap wrote an obnoxious, back-answering, over-smart girl who I didn't get involved with before she was kidnapped. He banks on the "generic" care you would have for any 10-year old girl who is kidnapped and worry on behalf of the parents. Later in the film, I wondered, is there one character I would feel my loyalties inclining towards? Nope. And that is exactly how the writer wants it. You don't like anyone at all. Who are you rooting for? But who do you root for in real life? Who do you like a 100%, a 100% of the time in real life?

As the kidnapping itself takes a backseat, I was reminded of a question I have about death, "how long does one mourn a close-one's death?" A few days later, you have to move on with your life. After a point, that's how the characters seem to have dealt with the kidnapping. The unsaid conclusion seemed, "If she were to be found, she'd be found by now. Since she hasn't been found yet, she must be dead. We should move on." This seems so far removed from how you think you would react that it is shocking, disgusting. This emotion that was evoked is what makes Ugly a good film.

In any other setting, with a set of different actors, Ugly would have felt like an exaggeration of dark characters. We are used to dark characters in a Anurag Kashyap film. We are used to seeing them devoid of glamor, but they usually do carry a style of their own. Here they are stripped off that. They seem so real, so possible that you accept their darkness as a part of them. They do have streaks of humanity in them, but they are either so stern (Ronit Roy as Bose) or so worn-out (Tejaswini Kolhapure as his wife) that it is easy to accept them as empty of that humanity.

In fact, another reason for Ugly to be a rare film is that the only people who seem to care is the police. Sure, their motivation is that it involves a senior's family, at one point they seem to be the only one's worried about the missing child. Watching their casual attitude turn into a serious one is a high point early in the film. The only one's doing their job and quite ruthlessly so.

True to any Anurag Kashyap film the content, even if you don't like it, is so over-powering that the actors and their performances are taken for granted. Each one of us who sees the film could pick a different character and the actor who played it as the best, and each one of us would be right. I'd pick Girish Kulkarni who makes the inspector he plays his own and Rahul Bhatt as the struggling actor who wears his false pride on his sleeves as the ones who stay back with me.

And of course there is gritty art work to go with the grim nature of the film and minimal to dramatic background music that only sets the tone deeper. While Mumbai lingers in the background, as the film proceeds, you might not hear it out loud but each frame seems to want to shout, "mumbai, sapno ka shahar, jahaan koi kisi ka nahi" - Mumbai, a city of dreams, where no relationship is sacrosanct.

Also, true to any Anurag Kashyap film, it is not only about the unmasking of real people under the names of father, mother, friend, lover, but also about how rampant child kidnapping and trading is; how accepted prostitution is as a part of life; how casual an extra-marital affair is and so on. Yes, the other ugly things about life with a huge stamp of dark humor. The kind that feels unacceptable when its happening with you but brings out the laugh when it is happening to another. Exactly when does this disconnect happen?

The film's content is so unsettling that you wouldn't want to watch it again, at the same time you feel like you haven't grasped it all in the first go. It is long and does seem to stall at places, over and above the lingering that is likeable. As well-made as I find a depressing film that shows you reality, I was ready to be out of the theater. After all, it does go out of its way to prove how deeply immoral we are as a society and as humans and after a point I don't want to be reminded that reality s***s. And at the same time, give me reality over gloss, any day!

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots of it.
  • Language: A lot of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Extra-marital affair, porn referred to. Impotency referred to graphically.
  • Concept: The fickleness of relationships.
  • General Look and Feel: Grim and sepia.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director:
  • Lyrics:

Ugly - Trailer

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Comments (11)

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Not much of excitement about this on wogma (yet).. Eagerly waiting for the review as Meetu is less upbeat about this compared to other Anuraag Kashyap movies.


@Swapnil ha ha, nothing like that. Just published the review. Had written the preview post a long time ago, when they had an earlier date of release. At that time, it was postponed to March and so had fallen off my radar. :D

Have you seen it? What do you think of it?

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 4
Story: 4
Lead Actors: 4.5
Character Artists: 4

Dialogues: 4
Screenplay: 4
Music Director:


@Meetu - I haven't gotten a chance to watch this, but it is definitely on my radar.


@Meeta : Can we know your top 3 films of 2014 please?

Pritesh Velankar:

Entertaining. Slightly weird ending.


So dark and intense as we were expecting with Anurag Kashyap movies.Super good story,exceptional acting, superb screenplay.Now expectation are more higher towards Anurag's movies.


@Anuj I'd go for - Queen, Lakshmi, Haider, Highway. Each one as good as the next, so no specific order, actually.


Ugly is a very nice movie. Complete entertainment package for me. Really liked the movie a lot. Thank u for the review...

Nishant Wadhwa:

Really well reviewed Meetu. A must watch. Although the story has a very basic technical flaw but let it be. I was speechless when the movie finished and it wasn't cause of the ending, but cause of the characters.


Thank you @Nishant!

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