Movie review 'Ugly': It delivers a packed narrative, intentional violence and shock value

Published Dec 25, 2014, 9:06 pm IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 4:51 am IST
'Ugly' takes steep turns that will leave you confused as to who to root for in the end

Director: Anurag Kashyap 

Cast: Rahul Bhat, Ronit Roy, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Vineet Kumar Singh, Surveen Chawla, Siddhanth Kapoor ,Girish Kulkarni


Stars: 4

Anurag Kashyap's 'Ugly' is a gritty thriller ripe with emotions. 'Ugly' is about an awful event (child kidnapping), showcasing awful people, who reveal themselves to be more awful than originally thought, which ultimately reaches a conclusion more awful than how it all started.

The movie kicks into action with the handover of ten-year-old Kali (Anshika Shrivastava) from her depressed and distraught mother Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure), to her loser aspiring actor father Rahul (Rahul Bhatt). Kali goes missing when her father is collecting a potential script from his crafty agent Chaitanya (Vineet Singh). The characters range from the lowliest of street beggers to Shalini's second husband, the powerful local police chief, Shoumik (Ronit Roy). Shoumik harbors a childhood grudge against Rahul and leaves no opportunity to get even.


The movie follows a linear plot but the circumstances become embittered by the knotty relationships mercenary characters and followed by a ruthless investigation. 'Ugly' is not only gory and thrilling but it is also darkly funny and extremely well-directed. It will make you ask is this what happens to missing children? On reporting Kali's disappearance to the police, Rahul gets bogged down in routine process and small talk at the police station and he finds himself trapped in a lengthy explanation of the intricacies smart phone functionalities to the police officials. Kali is soon forgotten, and what takes over is petty rivalry and bogus ransom demands.


'Ugly'’s web of deceit spreads out to include Shalini’s brother Siddhant (Siddhant Kapoor), and Rahkee (Surveen Chawla), the plot becomes too busy and intricate for its own good. The plot crosscuts neurotically among the large cast, heightening the sense of crisis, and keeps posing the question what are the characters after? A slew of inserted flashbacks add to the layers of the film and bring out the ugly side of the characters.

Rahul Bhat delivers an extraordinary performance as his character transitions from loser actor to helpless father. 'Ugly' is a comeback film for Bhat and he does full justice to the role. Ronit Roy adeptly potrays a autocratic police chief who seems right at home in a corrupt bureaucratic system. Tejaswini Kolhapure enlivens the grim thriller with shrill theatrics and Vineet Singh slips in perfectly into the shoes of a money-grubbing agent. The performances are all strong, with a touch of  manic-intensity that blends smoothly with the dark mood of the film.


The locations are used to heighten the mood of the action rather than function as an exotic foreground. Kashyap’s film is anti-establishment and it highlights the faulty setup that exists in the country. But the deftness with which Kashyap weaves these issues into the plot makes Ugly relatable.  Kashyap uses themes of  social corruption with extraordinary subtlety. The scenes are filled with uncompromising vitality while he tries to weave in systemic problem in the film. Surveillance-obsessed procedural detail, emotional meltdowns, and swindling schemes are pieced together without cutting down the pace of the piquant thriller.


With half the runtime of Kashyap’s previous efforts ,Ugly comes with a packed narrative. Every frame has a dark undertone and Ugly does not conclude until every possible avenue of audience empathy is explored. With a run time of two hours and eight minutes, 'Ugly' will end up leaving you gasping for more. While certain scenes could have been cut, the added elements are welcome diversions that throw the thriller pleasantly off-balance. An unending police interrogation with Rahul  that turns into a argument about smart phone features and a police officer singing a few lines of a song to understand its relevance to the case provides the necessary comic relief to the otherwise grim storyline.


'Ugly' takes steep turns that will leave you confused as to who to root for in the end. The ending is a haunting final shot, which pummels the moral centre of the movie. The film begins and ends with intentional violence which simply accentuates the ugliness instead of serving as a shock-value.  

Watch the trailer here: