Ugly

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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Director: Anurag Kashyap
Running time: 130 minutes
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Ugly - Preview

An Anurag Kashyap film by default generates a certain kind of buzz around the film. There has to be a controversy or two around the film. But beyond that, we all know there is something non-standard coming our way. And that is what we look forward to.

Interestingly then, Ugly's trailer looks like any other thriller that involves kidnapping with the victim being harassed by the police and all and sundry. Disappointingly, a bit of a downer. Usually, a film written by Anurag Kashyap has a dialogue or two that will stick in your head. Ugly offers not one.

In fact, it even looks like a major plot twist is given away in the trailer itself. But, you put in the context of the film being by Anurag Kashyap and you know there is something more up his sleeve. Or at least that's the hope. In either case, certainly looks like no room for music here. There are no music reviews out there.

Usually, with a film under this brand, there is more than just the branding to look forward to. This time, there seems very little. It is as exciting as it makes you nervous about the film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

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

31 reviewers(?) - 21 yays 7 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K. Jha, Apun Ka Choice : ... "Ugly" is a film of many surprises, most of them unpleasant sordid and unsavoury. The actors are not acting for the camera. But their characters seem to be constantly play-acting with one another. Deception seems to run through the gamut of sordid characters.... full review

Thumbs up, by Prathna Tiwari, Bolly Spice : ...Ugly is not your cheerful holiday movie but the kind of film that must be seen. Its serves as a brutal mirror to society and is likely to do more so for parents. It will act as a wake up call and stir up realisations that perhaps you’ve been ignoring. Not everyone has a taste for an Anurag Kashyap film but if there is one Anurag Kashyap film you’re to watch, it should be Ugly.... full review

Thumbs up, by Prateek Sur, Bollywood Life : ...I went to watch this film not having much expectations from it, but Anurag Kashyap won me over with his storytelling and direction. If you are a lover of good cinema and if you can handle dark, raw truths of the society, then this is a must watch. It is worth every penny spent!... full review

Thumbs up, Daily Bhaskar : ...Ugly is special, and if you love Anurags earlier film, you will love this one too. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Krish Sripada, Desi Martini : ...Movie of the year for me. Raw. Haunting. Immaculate and most importantly Gripping and Thrilling to the End With a Cynical Undertone ... full review

Thumbs up, by Inspector VIjay, Desi Martini : ...Riveting, thrilling & discomforting, Anurag's most mature film. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Ameet Bhuvan, Desi Martini : ... Its the man's best work post black friday, also the best this year saw on the silver screen ... full review

Thumbs up, by Bryan Durham, DNA : ...Do not miss this film. It may be all things dark and forbidding this festive season, but it is, with flaws and all, one of the best films you'll watch this year.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...Anurag Kashyap, his writers, his actors and his technicians have outdone themselves with Ugly. The underlying sense of peril and the unrelenting tension grips you through a sweat breaking two hours. And when the climax of Ugly arrives you’re dealt a killer blow. It’s so dark and inconvenient that it’ll wrench your gut. And yet, it’s so simple that you’ll hate yourself for not guessing. More so, you’ll hate the characters for being so ignorant and misguided. Ugly is a film that draws the deepest and darkest behavior of men. This is how you make a great film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Deepanjana Pal, FirstPost : ...Without giving away the twist in the tale, one can't help but wonder if Ugly is an allegory of sorts for Kashyap and the cinema that he hoped to create. Perhaps Shoumik, Shalini, Jadhav, Rahul and all the other characters are camouflaged versions of different people in the film industry who lose sight of good cinema, embodied by Kali. Egoistical, petty and getting their high out of power trips, the adults in Ugly all appear to care about Kali but all they really want is to upstage one another... full review

Thumbs up, by Nupur Barua, fullhyd.com : ...The striking camera work, by Nikos Andritsakis, keeps you hooked. The editing is crisp, and although it is a lengthy movie, you do not feel it dragging. The music is haunting, in a way.... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...Yes! That's the best part about this movie: every character is made to stand out, regardless of the length of his or her role. UGLY is fast-paced and stays true to its genre. If only Kashyap had got the timing of his release right!... full review

Thumbs up, by Sarit Ray, Hindustan Times : ... As thrillers go, Ugly's resolution isn't the most satisfying. There's no dazzling twist at the end. Yet it works because you recognise this as the world you inhabit. And it reminds you that it takes just a trigger for the seemingly ordinary to turn ugly - into the sort of stories you read about in the newspaper, the sort that could be happening around you right now ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohit Khilnani, india today : ...Be it Ronit Roy as a top cop, Rahul Bhatt as a struggling actor, Girish Kulkarni as the inspector, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Surveen Chawla and all the other actors, each and every actor does a terrific job. Credit for that also goes to Anurag Kashyap who sticks to the plot and uses all the talent he hired to put this film together. The screenplay and the music go well which only helps the film. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...Ugly is a mean, dark and unsettling film that will rip you off in its last scene. This film is for the strong-hearted. It is honest, bare and raw in all its sense. As disgusting as the characters are, you want to watch this film for their diverse personalities and just to see what goes on in warped brains that bring out the worst in them. I loved the film for its brave nature... full review

Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Movie Talkies : ...As for the film as a whole, it does come with a disclaimer to shock you to the core, especially in the last 10 minutes. With practically every actor baring his/her soul for the film and Ronit Roy (ironically) coming across as the most reasonable man amongst a plethora of ugly characters, the film indeed turns out to be the most personal film of Anurag Kashyap.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chattarjee, NDTV : ...This may not be Anurag Kashyap’s best film, but it is infinitely and indescribably better than all the muck that mainstream Bollywood passed off for entertainment this year. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...Ugly is a tale of torment, masterfully woven around the universally urgent trigger of a disappearing minor — and yet where, in the larger scheme of things, that kidnapping itself becomes, I daresay, a minor detail. Genius.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, Times of India : ...While the pace does dip in the second half, what makes Ugly tick is the searing honesty with which it is told. It's not for the faint-hearted, but for those who are willing to let the morally decrepit live.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shivam Sharma aka @GhantaGuy, Upper Stall : ...The story is complemented extremely well by stellar performances from the ensemble cast all-round. Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Tejaswini Kolhapure and Vineet Kumar Singh are all well cast and execute the roles to perfection but the Marathi star Girish Kulkarni, who makes his Bollywood debut here, deserves special mention. He steals almost every scene he appears in. The background score by Brian McOmber is great and the editing never lets the pace of the movie down. ... full review

Thumbs up, ZEENEWS.COM : ...This is a thriller which leaves us with a sense of utter futility about the quality of life that we lead.... full review

So-So, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...The art direction by Mayur Sharma is spot on as is Nikos Andritsakis’ intimate camerawork, creating for the audience a darkened world where sorrow and intrigue seem to lurk around every corner along with unhappy, myopic creatures. ... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...Sharing honestly, I always see a bit of AK’s first film PAANCH, hiding somewhere in his every attempt intentionally or unintentionally. Probably the fact that his first baby remains unreleased till date, not reaching the audience as he wished for, gives him immense pain affecting his thought process even today. And that makes me think that had PAANCH released normally more than a decade before, we would have had an entirely different Anurag Kashyap as a director, coming out of his own gritty shell of dark realism with more love, warmth and meaning in his exceptional films.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...A film that made to be appreciated...but maybe not to be liked or enjoyed.... full review

So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...One, however, must say that this film manages to deeply disturb you, mildly depress you and tag along with you for a long time even after you come out of the theatre. That obviously is Kashyap's intent.... full review

So-So, MoviezADDA : ...Dum? Well, all the Anuraag Kashyap die hard fans along with the ones who love dark and good cinema will definitely love the uglier side of human drama. The darkness, curiosity and performances will keep you engaged throughout the film leading to a hard hitting climax. The ones expecting a lot from their cinematic god (Anuraag Kashyap), might end up getting a bit disappointed as they might hardly find anything new or powerful to cherish their worshipping. The popular cinema lovers would prefer to stay miles away from this type of cinema. The brand name of Anuraag Kashyap is much bigger than the small product like 'Ugly', due to which it ends up being less distressing in terms of a dark thriller.... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur, Dev.D, Black Friday) gives us a film that represents a disturbing reflection of life. It's a film where there are only villains in varying degrees and no heroes. It reminds you of his 2011 film ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots'.In the end, 'Ugly' is a fairly gripping film that’s also exhaustingly melancholic and cynical. After all, it does seem unreasonable to view the world only through smog-tinted glasses! ... full review

So-So, by ANUJ KUMAR, The Hindu : ...There is no escape from the ugliness that we and our films like to keep under wraps. Last week Hirani had hung a mirror in theatres, this week Anurag has put together few shards of glass. That was easier to face; this one will test the nerve. ... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, technically brilliant with some wonderful performances, UGLY strictly caters to a niche audience. Moreover the choice of releasing it during a festive period isn't a great idea either. Watch it if you are an Anurag Kashyap fan, else avoid! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Anurag Anurag Kashyap’s attempts to chart a new course for Bollywood with his brand of edgy stylised realism have borne some fruit in the past decade or so. With the steady stream of talented young directors striving to create a new idiom for artily inclined cinema intent on creating a viable commercial platform, that is in fact a given.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanjukta Sharma, Live Mint : ...The film progresses as a whodunnit but it doesn’t take long to understand that it is actually a “why-dunnit”. The plot has many holes and improbabilities. The climax, not difficult to guess, chips away at Kashyap’s emphasis through scenes and detail that his characters are out of moral bounds.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

5 readers - 4 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Want to Watch, by Anuj

Yay! Thumbs Up, by amolclark : Superhit

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Anusia

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Nishant Wadhwa : Not to miss...

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Suman

So-So, by PSV : Entertaining. Slightly weird ending.

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

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):

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Ugly - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
130 minutes
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Comments (11)

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Swapnil

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 ha...no-no, 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:
Lyrics:

Swapnil

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

Anuj

@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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