The setting is Delhi, there are four friends, one of them is politically connected, the mustached cop speaking in a thick Haryanavi accent is the villain, politicians dance around item girls at a party, our protagonists need a huge sum of money to get out of trouble, a pinch of patriotism is thrown in for good measure.
Sounds familiar? It has to. The film will have you thinking back to Shaitan, Delhi Belly, Fukrey and even Rang De Basanti. A blend of these with a generous helping of other “Delhi movies”, Fugly is vastly unoriginal to begin with.
Then, it attempts to bring in elements from ALL the films mentioned above. The film pours in too much, with the execution struggling to juggle them all.
Our four protagonists— Dev (Mohit Marwah), Devi (Kiara Advani), Aditya (Arfi Lamba) and Gaurav (boxing champ Vijender Singh)— call their lives “easy” and “on speed”; we then proceed to see how their life turns, borrowing from the title, fugly. It begins with a middle-aged leery shopkeeper molesting Devi. She talks about how the world is turning fugly for women, and the gang takes it upon themselves to teach the molester a lesson.
That’s when they meet the cop— Chautala (Jimmy Shergill, superb)— and things turn unexpectedly. They find themselves in such a big mess, that even Gaurav with his political connections cannot help them.
There are some moments that really work. The time when the girl slaps the molester shopkeeper, with people choosing to believe the shopkeeper’s version is heart-rending.
Gaurav’s disillusion with the politically motivated ways of his family is also touching. The comical portion where a politician accidently loses his seat is amusing.
The film relies heavily on the viewer connecting with the characters, and the characterization is not at par. Dev, the central protagonist who takes a drastic step to set things right, disappointingly has the weakest characterization. In fact, apart from the nervous Aditya and the feisty Devi, you don’t quite know much about the characters of the four friends.
As far as the antagonist is concerned, Chautala appears to operate out of a vacuum. He doesn’t seem to have seniors to answer to, intends on becoming Commissioner without going through the ranks, and commits the most outrageous crimes without any fear. Is a Delhi cop really that powerful? That he can evade the rest of the police force, politicians and the media?
But things get even more ludicrous towards the second half, including a journalist interviewing a burn victim on his story, as the docs struggle to keep him alive.
For “comedy”, you have a nosy reporter asking a burn victim, “Aap ko jal ke jaisa lag raha hai?” And the gang bullying their friend by calling him shithead, because he has a family business of commodes.
Then there is ‘misplaced comedy’, where humour is insinuated in situations where it looks miserably incongruous. Like a do-or-die situation when a character is trying to escape; hardly the time when a viewer would want to laugh.
The only portion that works is the ghoonghat-clad prospective bride of one of the friends, who turns out to be quite a firecracker. And of course, the one with the grandmother misleading an income-tax official.
The Delhi lingo is omnipresent with words like thulla (cop) and lines like, “sorry le le” (I am sorry). As far as the crass dialogue and portions are concerned, it seems insinuated into the film without context.
Writer-director Kabir Sadanand (Tum Milo Toh Sahi, Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao) takes up an interesting concept – that of four youngsters in the grip of a cop on a diabolical mission, but the execution falters. There is none of the edge-of-the-seat thrills, that this story warrants. The characterization isn’t strong enough. The performances are uneven.
The only actor, among the younger cast, leaving an impression is Kiara Advani who plays Devi.
Eventually we struggle to understand what the film is trying to say (how you wish they hadn’t mixed in patriotism, and kept it simple). The film’s politics are also muddled as it makes a statement about how women are harassed, but sexualize the film’s heroine in the songs, and add a risque item song later. No walking the talk, eh? And there are some really embarrassing homophobic portions involving a gay prostitute.
The film starts as an arresting concept, but that sadly hasn’t been realized to its potential.
Rating: Two stars