June 13, 2014
Mohit Marwah, Kiara Advani, Vijender Singh, Arfi Lamba, Jimmy Sheirgill, Anshuman Jha
Fugly is a well-intentioned film that suffers from weak direction, lack of focus and overly melodramatic, over-used music. It’s the story of four carefree young chaddi buddies – Dev (Mohit Marwah), Devi (Kiara Advani), Gaurav (Vijender Singh) and Aditya (Arfi Lamba). They spend their days and nights hanging out together, figuring out their career plans, and getting away with their occasional misbehaviour because Gaurav’s dad is a powerful politician. One day a creepy fellow molests Devi, and the friends’ revenge scheme goes horribly wrong when they are caught by that rare cop who is unimpressed by their neta connection. That’s when life spirals out of control, as does the film.
It’s clear right from the start that Fugly is trying to achieve a certain mellow, thoughtful tone. The going’s okay early on especially considering that Mohit and Kiara are easy on the eye, and the DoP treats us to some expansive, breathtaking shots of Leh. Pretty soon though, it gets boring. The writer skips from one focal point to the next to the next, making it hard to figure out what the film is trying to say. Only one thing is clear: it’s trying to say something. Towards the beginning it seems like Fugly might be a coming-of-age film revolving around this quartet of 20-somethings. But no it’s not that. Later it feels like perhaps it will be about society’s response to the everydayness of sexual violence in India. Nope, it’s not that either. Then you think it’s about the all-pervasive corruption in Indian society. Not that either. And then I just stopped caring.
Sadly for the cast, three of them deserve better. I’ll give you till the end of this paragraph to guess who the fourth is. Arfi Lamba is a talented chap who played Chandan Roy Sanyal’s troubled friend just last year in Ashish R. Shukla’s lovely yet unheralded film Prague. Debutants Mohit (veteran actor Anil Kapoor’s nephew) and Kiara reveal flashes of potential and large doses of sex appeal. Unfortunately, all three are handicapped by poor writing.
Real-life boxing champ Vijender Singh is a different story though. Not every attractive sportsperson can emote before a camera. In Fugly, Vijender’s face is so immobile that he makes Katrina Kaif look like a National Award-worthy actress.
Playing the corrupt policeman R.S. Chautala, the usually dependable Jimmy Sheirgill tries hard to appear menacing as the four youngsters battle his character. Sheirgill’s own battle here is with the sketchy writing of his character. It’s hard to believe this film is produced by the same Grazing Goat Pictures that had the vision to back the script of 2012’s pathbreaking, revolutionarily gutsy OMG Oh My God!
Some films are so bad they leave you angry. Fugly is just too tepid to incite that kind of passion. This is truly unfortunate because in those scenes where Devi is shown dealing with the sort of sexual harassment that Indian women have to face in daily life – at the workplace, at parties, everywhere, anywhere – and the consequences of her protest, the film does manage to be strikingly true-to-life. There are serious Hindi films that have dealt sensitively with the issue of rape, but other forms of sexual violence have rarely been touched upon effectively. Fugly has one particularly poignant scene in which Devi is chided for having made an issue out of a man running his hand over her bottom. “He just touched your ass, he didn’t rape you, did he?” she is asked crudely. The scene is a stark reminder of how women across the world, but especially in this country, are often expected to build up their tolerance levels and accept at least a certain amount of sexual harassment as an inevitability. It also illustrates the reason why millions of women don’t complain about such behaviour. Wish director Kabir Sadanand and team had stuck to this chain of thought. They did not. Instead, the film meanders endlessly and tries to be about too many things, leaving us with no answer to the question that’s been repeated in its theme song running relentlessly on TV channels for what seems like weeks now: seriously, “yeh Fugly Fugly kya hai?”
Rating (out of five stars): *1/2
CBFC Rating (India):
Poster courtesy: Everymedia PR