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Canadian Premiere
  • India
  • 2013
  • 128 mins
  • DCP
  • Hindi
  • English (subtitles)
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Official Selection, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Cannes 2013

“Compulsively watchable, thrilling, darkly funny and extremely well-directed” – BRIAN CLARK, TWITCHFILM

« Cruel, noir, violent et labyrinthique… un diamant noir qui ne devrait pas passer inaperçu » – Nicolas Gilli, FILMOSPHERE

As per his agreement with his ex-wife, Rahul (Rahul Bhat) picks up their 10-year-old daughter Kali (Anishika Shrivastava) every Saturday. Kali’s mother Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure) is now married to Bose, a controlling police chief (Ronit Roy) who makes her life miserable — tapping her phone calls and forcing her to stay home at all times. Just about to blow her brains out with her husband’s gun, she is interrupted by her daughter, asking for her expectedly late father. When Rahul finally gets to the house, he is his usual, self-centered and forgetful self: a wannabe actor, he takes Kali for a car ride but ignores her, taking calls and stopping mid-way for an audition. Leaving Kali in the car, he meets with his agent Chaitanya (Vineet Kumar Singh), and when they get back to the vehicle moments later, Kali is gone — kidnapped. Taking the kidnapping to the police proves to be a terrible idea, as they are met with complete derision and indifference. Worse, when Bose is made aware of the situation, both Rahul and Chaitanya are tortured and accused of having plotted the kidnapping themselves. Managing to escape, an absurd, unproductive dick-waving contest begins, as the men’s ego clash in parallel to the search for the young girl. Days go by and Kali remains at large…

Anurag Kashyap (of the cult Indian film DEV.D and the recent five-hour magnum opus THE GANGS OF WASSEYPUR) returns with a crushing urban noir — the title of which is to be take very literally. Indeed, UGLY is populated with desperate, egotistical, back-stabbing, manipulative bastards of all ilk, and the film acts as the polar opposite (and perhaps cure) to the colourful and joyful grandiloquence of the usual Bollywood fare. Visually, the film’s harsh blues and oppressive deep yellows make for an expressive, yet gritty and realistic experience, and Kashyap’s film takes the form on a nearly hallucinatory descent into the depths of human depravity. Throwing the viewer into the middle of a twisting mystery that seems increasingly unlikely to have a happy end, Kashyap expertly covers his tracks and seeds much doubts along the way as to the who, what, how, and why of the situation. Ultimately, it is the clashing of egos, a portrait of India’s systemic violence, as well as a critique of its completely inept patriarchy that comes to the forefront — neatly packaged in an unforgettable, gut-churning thriller.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer