Till a few monsoons ago, the protagonists in a Hindi movie were pristine white, while the antagonists, expectedly, were jet-black. Nonetheless, Hindi cinema seems to be getting 'real' with each passing week, serving plots that one can relate to and presenting characters that are as credible and authentic as you witness in day-to-day life. FUGLY, directed by Kabir Sadanand, fits into the variety.
The very first theatrical trailer of FUGLY brought a sense of dÃ©jÃ vu, as cineastes started drawing parallels with Bejoy Nambiar's SHAITAN... and for a legitimate reason. Bejoy's film mapped out the lives of five youngsters who commit felony after felony to smokescreen the dreadful offense they had committed. A tough cop [Rajeev Khandelwal] was, hence, entrusted with the task of apprehending themâ€¦ In FUGLY, the four youngsters are pitted against a cop [Jimmy Sheirgill] as well, but before you jump the gun, let's correct you. The plotline is similar but only to a point and takes a diverse route when the youngsters have a run-in with the law.
FUGLY is set in the lanes of Delhi. A story of four friends -- Dev [Mohit Marwah], Devi [Kiara Advani], Gaurav [Vijender Singh] and Aditya [Arfi Lamba]. Their dreams and expectations come to a crashing halt when, one night, they are faced with evil incarnate R.S. Chautala [Jimmy Sheirgill], a Police Officer. What unfolds from here is a series of events that will put to test their friendship and character.
FUGLY is not the standard Bollywoodish fare that looks at life through rose-tinted glasses. Unlike films of its ilk, which tend to get dark, gory and predictable after a point, Kabir Sadanand smartly uses sub-plots and characters so that the film doesn't steer into the foreseeable zone. In addition, Kabir invests in drama and the emotional bond amongst friends to make the proceedings captivating, but at the same time, makes the road back from hell compelling and lifelike.
Although the initial portions focus on the bonding and the fun-and-amusement the youngsters seem to revel in, you've an inkling that there are curves ahead, the smooth sailing won't last for too long. Your apprehensions come true when Sheirgill makes an entry.
Kabir takes time to warm up, but once he does, there's no stopping him. He maintains his grip on the dramatic portions for most parts, expertly building up tension and handling a couple of episodes adroitly. Although it's sacrilege to spill the beans and spoil the fun for the viewers, I'd like to state that the sequences featuring Sheirgill keep you most attentive.
Conversely, there are loopholes that are hard to ignore. Like I pointed out at the outset, the initial portions are not completely compelling. A few episodes in the second hour too appear implausible, more so because the film chooses to stay as real as possible and these sequences just don't gel. Even the finale in the hospital -- with a TV crew interviewing an almost-dead patient -- appears far-fetched. Nonetheless, the conclusion brings the film back on tracks.
The film's key weapon, besides drama, is its soundtrack and Kabir makes sure he places the songs neatly in the narrative. 'Banjarey' is easy on the ears and the spectacular visuals of Ladakh catch your eye, while 'Dhuaan' has a tinge of sadness that comes at a crucial point in the tale. Milind Jog's cinematography is top notch, with the DoP capturing some wonderful frames on his lens.
The performances are strong, with Kiara Advani and Jimmy Sheirgill leading the pack. Mohit Marwah makes a confident debut, interpreting his character with insight and conviction. He has this amazing intensity which gels well with his character. Vijender Singh has screen presence and surprises you with an effective portrayal. Arfi Lamba underplays his part well and maintains the grip over his performance all through.
At first, Kiara Advani gives the impression of just adding to the glam quotient, but the pretty newcomer catches you completely unaware as she handles her part with rare understanding. She has the combination of looks and talent, both. The manic charisma that Jimmy Sheirgill brings to his character leaves you bewildered. His fury and wickedness makes you detest him, which clearly indicates how brilliantly he has portrayed his character. Sheirgill is indisputably one of the film's biggest strengths. Mansha Bahl [cast opposite Arfi Lamba], Vidushi Mehra [associated with a news channel] and Anshuman Jha lend satisfactory support. Kunickaa Sadanand is perfect in a cameo.
On the whole, FUGLY is relatable that portrays several episodes that mirror the realities and the problems the youth encounter in the present times. A decent entertainer!