Archive for December, 2014

Ugly

Ugly-Movie-Poster

Ugly
Release date: December 26, 2014
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Cast:Tejaswini Kolhapure, Ronit Roy, Rahul Bhatt, Surveen Chawla, Vineet Kumar, Girish Kulkarni, Siddhanth Kapoor, Abir Goswami, Madhavi Singh, Anshika Shrivastava

What kind of a father leaves his kid behind on the only day he gets to see her? What kind of a mother feeds her kid milk laced with sleeping pills? What kind of a person marries someone to just get even for an old fight? This is the dubious setting in which Anurag Kashyap sets his reality-driven fictional universe. The charm and thrill of the unexpected at every step distracts you, and the case of a missing girl in the film, from looking at the obvious.

Kali (Anshika Shrivastava) is the ‘Gone Girl’ and her “failed hero” actor/father Rahul (Rahul Bhat) and his casting director friend Chaitanya (Vineet Kumar) start searching for her. In their attempt to file a police complaint, they end up talking about why aspiring actors in Mumbai change their surnames, why can’t a casting director cast his friend in a film and Inspector Jadhav (Girish Kulkarni) takes them only seriously when he discovers Kali’s relation to a senior officer.

The senior officer is Shoumik Bose (Ronit Roy) who is also a monster dad and a hardboiled cop turns the complaint around and starts suspecting the original complainants. Shoumik is also a control freak, yet vulnerable; as he hears his wife’s phone conversations on the loudspeaker mode and yet monitors her every movement. Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure) is the repressed wife who’s the link between Shoumik and Rahul.

In an engaging character study and the slow divulging of small plot points that replay in hazy flashbacks, Ugly paints every character with a motive for crime. With an amateur robbery heist, it shows you the desperation of the characters. Logically, the heist could have been stopped by the immediate interference of the snooping police force, but that’s the only kink.

Rahul Bhat as the cash-strapped, abusive husband and the troubled father is splendid; while Kolhapure as the incurably hapless betrayed wife is sickeningly empathetic. Ronit Roy strikes fear with his verbally limited vocabulary and more than able physical repertoire. He’s shadier than the News of the World and as unrepentant as a proven psychopath. Vineet Kumar and Surveen Chawla as the friends with their own murky interests only help to further tighten the mystery. Not to forget, Girish Kulkarni is a complete showstealer in every scene he appears in.

Ugly also gains a lot from the slick background score by Brian McOmber. It provides bass to the treble of the stylishly-shot visuals, no matter how disturbing they may appear to the fainthearted viewer. The director is in complete control towards the end of the film and uses DevD-ish fadeouts to let the viewers fill in the blanks deliberately left open in the narrative.

There are no angels with halos in this dark world, only co-conspirators with headphones, voice modulators and laptops. Kashyap is asking you to trust no one, yet don’t convolute the obvious.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

 

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PK

pk-posterPK
Release date: December 19, 2014
Directed by: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Parikshit Sahni

In the December of 2009, 3 Idiots, the “highest grossing entertainer” of all times released with the same protagonist and the same director at its helm. I would reserve my observations about that film, but the similarities keep soaring in my mind. Of course, the glaring disconnect between the two is the lack of any attention to the supporting characters in PK.

Hirani along with Abhijat Joshi creates his title character as an outsider (Aamir Khan) to India’s belief systems. The outsider doesn’t know how the societies work, what’s acceptable and what’s not. He loses his way out of here and relies on the innumerable human gods for hope and answers because he has no friends and no relatives. Jagat Janani (Anushka Sharma) chances upon PK and decides to help him through her news channel.

The news channel head (Boman Irani) indulges PK with his questions about birth control, and is thoroughly impressed by his “amazing questions”. Groan. Once the film goes down the path of using a TV show as a confrontation between its only self-admitted antagonist–Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla) and the ever inquisitive PK, it all goes downhill.

The dichotomies and differences between the religions present hearty laughs and play out as a continuous gag; turning potentially sensitive situations into perfectly innocuous moments of lovable relativity. The writers go to originality in spurts and come up with a few new devices that turn conventional scenarios around. Unfortunately, these spurts of originality cease at being used to rake up humor and nothing beyond that.

The post-interval part is reluctant at going for an emotional depth and eventually turns out to be manipulative and shallow; where a bomb goes off and there’s no gravitas attached to the scene. It’s just something that you’re supposed to care about, but the characters on the screen underplay it and thus the film chickens out of attaching any strong subtext.

The prolonged climax of the film is insufferable to say the least. It descends into a full blown TV debate between the two aforementioned characters and the interviewees completely hijack the show and the anchor and the producer have absolutely no control over it. Yes, it’s a film and they get cinematic liberties. But I wouldn’t be pointing this out if it was the only thing that was far-fetched. What follows that and ends in a telephonic conversation with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput) in Pakistan is outrageously ludicrous.

It’s an all Aamir Khan show here. He shoulders the entire film, not because the other actors are doing a bad job, rather they don’t get to do much. Everyone’s made out to be a sidekick to this Bhojpuri-mouthing great ashternaut (sic) His chaste Bhojpuri makes him endearing and affable, instead of thriving on the usual poor representation of the language in self-righteous Hindi films.

PK is just about a kindhearted blockbuster in its approach, which makes it ironically un-kindhearted and seem more like an insincere crossover between Hrithik Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya and Paresh Rawal starrer OMG-Oh My God!

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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