There is a category of filmmakers who manage to showcase their storytelling prowess with their debut ventures. At the polar opposite, there are those whose first films turn out to be unwatchable – so much so that you would feel apprehensive about watching their latest flick at a theater. Unfortunately, Kabir Sadanand belongs to the latter category – with both of his previous films (‘Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao’ and ‘Tum Milo To Sahi’) having firmly made their place among the most forgettable Bolly movies in recent times. In ‘Fugly’, Sadanand picks a crew of newbies as the cast members – and the promotional drives underlined how the film delivered a social message to viewers. In truth though, it does nothing of the sort – and is the third dud of the director on the trot.
‘Fugly’ starts out as a buddy flick – with a gang of three young men and a feisty girl. ‘Devi’ (Kiara Advani) has a big-time crush on ‘Dev’ (Mohit Marwah) – and together with ‘Gaurav’ (Vijender Singh – yes, the pugilist!) and ‘Aditya’ (Arfi Lamba) they form a quintessential ‘friends-forever’ group. ‘Dev’ is a adventure tour manager, and the group heads of to Leh (which is of no significance to the overall story) for some camping. Of course, that also gives ‘Devi’ the opportunity to cosy up a bit with the man of his dreams.
The hot-headedness of ‘Devi’ soon leads to problems cropping up. Here is not a lady who accepts a straight ‘sorry’ for any lecherous acts – and believes more in action rather than words. She slaps (much to her buddies’ chagrin) a local politician’s son ‘Cheeni’ (Anshuman Jha). While that incident does not proceed to a full-blown brawl, another ugly incident follows. Local shopkeeper ‘Nunnu’ tries to grope ‘Devi’ (she supplies goods to the former’s store). This time, she convinces her friends that some sort of revenge is necessary. Accordingly, ‘Dev’, ‘Gaurav’ and the cowering ‘Aditya’ set forth, capture the hapless ‘Nunnu’ from his shop and lock him in their car’s dickey – with the intention of handing him a good beating later on.
In the first half of commercial Hindi movies, things never work out the way the lead characters envisage. The same happens in ‘Fugly’. During their escapade from ‘Nunnu’s shop – the four friends’ car nearly collide with that of ‘Chautala’ (Jimmy Shergill) – a thoroughly evil police officer. Stung by the strong words of ‘Dev’ and ‘Aditya’, he shoots the hidden ‘Nunnu’, and frames the entire case on the four friends. There is only one way out – the buddies have to pay a hefty amount of money to ‘Chautala’, to keep his mouth shut. Since ‘Aditya’ is the son of a cabinet minister, it doesn’t seem that difficult a challenge at first. But things start to go haywire (much like the movie’s screenplay in the second half), ‘Devi’ gets kidnapped, and the three guys find themselves peddling drugs at parties. Will happiness ever return to their lives again? Wait for the DVD – and get the answer!
There were shades of grey in Jimmy Shergill’s role in the two ‘Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster’ movies – and in his first full-fledged ‘bad cop’ act in ‘Fugly’, he shines. The drawl in the voice, the drunken eyes, and the obvious relish of tormenting four innocent young people are all showcased with nonchalant ease by Shergill. If he had stayed away from choosing a string of nonsensical films after his impressive ‘Mohabbatein’ success, he could well have been an A-list star by now. Going by his performance in ‘Fugly’, Shergill might still have a future as a villain.
The same, sadly, cannot be predicted for any of the other actors in the film. Mohit Marwah, in the pivotal role of ‘Dev’ is so wooden that he puts an early-career Arjun Rampal to shame. Irrespective of whether he is getting all sentimental with ‘Devi’, having a blast with his other friends, or is in a fit of frustrated rage – not a muscle in Marwah’s face change its position. From the nephew of Anil Kapoor, we had certainly expected a better performance.
Kiara Advani, as ‘Devi’, is fun to watch for some time – with her tendency to hurl profanities at wrongdoers and general devil-may-care attitude. She is burdened with a half-baked characterization though. In the opening reels of ‘Fugly’ she declares that the country has ‘betrayed’ her, because her dad – a war martyr – had not received his due recognition. This is hardly reason enough for her feelings. The way in she struts about in hot pants while being constantly hounded by the evil ‘Chautala’ is scarcely believable. In the second half of the movie, she gets kidnapped – and does not have more than a couple of scenes. To give where credit is due, Kiara does bring an oomph quotient to her otherwise lacklustre effort to ape Deepika Padukone.
Vijender Singh could no probably have chosen a worse debut vehicle than ‘Fugly’ – but then, bigger banners and better directors were unlikely to select him, anyway. He plays ‘Gaurav’ – an aspiring world champion boxer (surprise!), who, like Mohit Marwah, is mostly expressionless. There are fleeting moments (like when ‘Gaurav’ discovers that his father and elder brother are also involved in the drug racket) when Vijender shows a bit of promise in the acting department. Let’s just say this is a marginally better effort than Leander Paes’ horrendous act in ‘Rajdhani Express’. Arfi Lamba, as ‘Aditya’, is almost inconsequential. Anshuman Jha, as ‘Cheeni’ impresses. Sana Saeed, the adorable little girl from ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ proves that she is all grown up now, with an item number that spells V-U-L-G-A-R. The others are just about okay.
‘Fugly’ has one of the most powerful opening sequences among recent Bollywood films – when ‘Dev’ sets himself aflame in front of the India Gate, in full public view. The reason for doing so is strangely lame though – and when it is revealed that the three other friends would have done the same one-by-one (should ‘Dev’ had failed), things get unintentionally funny. There was a method to the way the protagonists of ‘Rang De Basanti’ (the film ‘Fugly’ was being compared with prior to its release) – but here, trying to commit suicide at a public place reeks of melodrama, not determination. The climax is good though – when the injured ‘Dev’ grapples with ‘Chautala’, and ultimately loses his own life. Between the opening and the end, ‘Fugly’ is a strictly ho-hum affair.
Films that aspire to be socially relevant must not have any extra flab – and ‘Fugly’ flouts this basic rule of thumb. Shounok Ghosh’s editing leaves a lot to be desired – particularly in the post-interval phase, when the story meanders at a sickeningly slow pace. Milind Jog wastes a glorious opportunity to capture the beauties of Leh, when the lead actors (albeit unnecessarily) headed there. The plot had every potential to be hard-hitting, but ends up seeming outlandish. Probably director Kabir Sadanand was confused about whether he should make a buddy flick, or focus more on the social message part. The final product is neither here, nor there.
For the first time in over a year, Yo Yo Honey Singh draws a blank with his musical numbers. It’s true though that he does not get any scope to include his signature dance tunes in ‘Fugly’. The fun moves of Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan with ‘Yeh Fugly Fugly Kya Hai’ looked cool in the promotional video – but paired with the opening credits in the film, it sounds plain weird. ‘Dhup Chik’, with its spunky beats, is the pick of the album, while the item song ‘Lovely Lovely’ is atrocious.
A few weeks back, ‘Heropanti’, which also starred two newcomers in lead roles, did impressive business at the box-office. Kabir Sadanand’s shoddy direction, the poor performance of almost everyone except Jimmy Shergill, the far-fetched plot (the friends could surely have sought help at a police station, and not be cowered by a single corrupt guy) and the boring music of ‘Fugly’ has made sure that this one will be forgotten in a hurry, though.
The most interesting part about Kabir Sadanand’s third unbearable film is its title – stylized as ‘F*UGLY’. Given how the film is, whether he was merely choosing the movie title or describing the overall flick seems doubtful!