22 January 2015 | jon_s_chan
Ugly - An ugly state of affairs in the lives of ordinary people
Anurag Kashyap yet again proves that he is in a league by himself among accomplished Bollywood directors. Lately in Bollywood there has been a surge in talented writers/directors creating movies that steer away from typical Bollywood glitz, glamor and grandeur. These glamorous movies appeal to the delusions of most of the Indian audience. But audience who take movies as a form of art and source for inspiration can see through the bling and realize that the substance is utterly lacking. Writers/Directors like Kashyap do not have audience in their mind when they create movies, they cater their work for themselves, which in my opinion brings the best out of any creator of art.
Ugly is a tale of ordinary lives involved in extraordinary circumstances. It starts out with a missing child followed by sequences that will make you utterly hate some characters initially. But as the movie unfolds and characters develop on screen, opinions on most of the characters will gradually change. This is a rarity in Bollywood movies, because many of them have characters that are purely good or evil. There is no middle ground, everything is looked as black or white and 30 minutes into the movie you can predict the plot by connecting dots between good and bad characters. But what if you start watching a movie where characters are constantly evolving on screen and every character has some evil and some nobility to him? That is when things become unpredictable and keep you on the edge of your seat if it is a thriller like this story is.
Greed and desperation, combined with poverty has a way of bringing out monsters in people you would usually deem as normal. Let me go ahead and say that you will find no character likable in the movie. Correction, I liked all the characters, but I could not root for any of them. But if I had to make an exception I would say one character would come out in a positive light by the end of the movie, even if there is some evil to him/her.
This movie is very condensed and concentrated with many raw, heavy hitting scenes that prompt vivid reactions from expressive audience. The plot is captivating and progresses linearly, with some retrospection in-between. Kashyap manages to have his audience on the edge of their seats 15 minutes into the movie. If you are a sucker for suspense thrillers like I am, you wont be leaning back for the rest of the movie. Kashyap also compels you to empathize and cringe at the plight and despair of characters, a lot of which is brought onto them by themselves.
Kashyap is a master at writing characters and finding impeccable actors to bring them to life. The lack of make up combined with many improvised scenes give a "real life" rawness and experience you are not used to in Bollywood movies. The movie "Apocalypse Now" where the character played by Marlon Brando talks about "the horror" is a scene that resonates deeply with audience. That was an improvised scene played by Brando who hardly could remember the lines and thus improvised in front of cameras to give us arguably the greatest scene ever. Kashyap obviously understands the positives of improvisation and lets his extremely talented cast do their thing. I only hope these actors get the recognition they deserve.
All in all, Ugly is the best Bollywood has to offer for the year 2014. I can confidently say that without even watching 99% of Hindi movies that came out in 2014. It is entertaining and inspiring. I wish I could meet Mr. Kashyap in person and thank him for all the wonderful creations. He is one of the very few reasons I still bother with Bollywood. I wish he managed to squeeze in Kay Kay Menon and Manoj Bajpai somewhere, that is the only (silly) complaint I have about this movie.