10 Things to Learn From Anurag Kashyap's Ugly

Published: January 02, 2015 10:24 IST
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(Rishi Majumder is an associate partner at the new media company Oijo)

Anurag Kashyap has been quoted saying people have told him Ugly is his best film ever. It's futile to get into such discussions. Everyone will have his or her own take. But what's interesting about Ugly - a film that fuses the genres of emotional drama and thriller-is that it's the kind of film that evokes a mixed bag of reactions, not from different people but within yourself. That's what defines an experiment.

Here are some of those reactions. (A quick synopsis: the movie is about a child getting kidnapped and a series of events that ensue which expose the Mumbai underbelly as much as the darker side of the city's white-collared denizens.)

1. If you decide to beat up someone who hit on your girlfriend in school or college, consider this: there is always the off-chance he will become a cop, stalk you, steal your wife and return the favour.

2. Anurag Kashyap and his crew are masters of mood. Their attention to detail ensures you're taken straight to Planet Ugly. You may not identify with this planet, but the magic of cinema lies in making you realize you are separated from it by only 6 degrees or less. I hope, for your sake, it's not less.

3. There are fine actors out there such as Rahul Bhat, Vineet Kumar Singh and Girish Kulkarni whom we don't know much about, but whom we should see a lot more of on screen.

4. A poor, ambitious, unsuccessful father who loves his child is a popular film and life trope perhaps, but it may also lead to unintended schizophrenia. If you happen to be one, sort out your priorities or watch out for early warning signs.

5. Pace does matter. Enormously. Characters may lose their audience at times, or just turn uninteresting, but a film that's well-paced will carry its viewers with it. Editors such as Aarti Bajaj embody this. She repeats her Black (Friday) magic here.

6. Yes, those 'No Smoking' disclaimers are obnoxious. Someone has to explain to the Censor Board that an obsessive cop with self-esteem issues and members of the Mumbai underbelly don't constitute role models for today's youth. If they do, then smoking is the least of our problems. I mean, take a hint. The film is called 'Ugly'. Did you have disclaimers saying: "Kidnapping a child may land you in jail" or "The actors in this film do not endorse kidnapping"?

7. Smaller characters make a film too. Like Luca Brasi in The Godfather, Charlie Cheswick in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and so many from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction or Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. The 'supporting characters' that reiterate the contours and rules of the film's universe can also give you something extra, like a surprisingly pleasant flavor from a dish which you didn't anticipate but which fits in. Ugly has such characters. Assistant Commissioners of Police played by the late Abir Goswami (a quiet but effective portrayal) and Madhavi Singh (a cop who's a tech geek) and other blink-and-you'll-miss-them roles such as the gun peddler who runs something like a dance bar, an Irani cafe manager or an old toy maker.

8. Nobody cares about the butler anymore. If you see the film you'll know what I mean.

9. Thievery 101. If you're taking someone else's phone, don't put it into your pocket without turning it off.

10. An ending that lingers on in your head long after the film is over-and not because it was unbelievably bad-is a reasonably laudable achievement. Ugly manages this.

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