There are films that may jump out at you with all their social messages and didactic qualities. Sometimes they work but more often than not they can be annoying. There are films that handle this with a sleight of hand that is rare for a message heavy movie – even if sugarcoating the revolution a little bit – and traverse the character arcs and motivations that are key to the genre. Think Rang De Basanti. Whatever can be said about that film, stupid isn’t the word. But Fugly is stupid. It lacks the heart. It lacks the will. There are things fundamentally wrong with the premise itself. Using the obvious pun is settling for less but this movie does settle for less. Fugly is plain bad.

Where do we start? Let’s start with the acting which is one of the most atrocious mass failures in recent times. Jimmy Shergill is a savior here but he can sleepwalk through these roles and we wish he had gotten more screen time. Boxer Vijender Singh can’t emote to save his life. Mohit Marwah tries very hard but he simply cannot get it on. Kiara Advani, whose face is an amalgamation of the younger Sridevi and Hema Malini, gets some of the most uninspiring lines early on in the film. After a point it is tough to guess whether the acting is just bad or it is the writing that is the bane of these poor souls. It is so lazy that the lead characters are named Dev and Devi.

Fugly suffers from the same false sense of entitlement that it is trying to speak against. The four friends, Dev, Devi, Gaurav and Aditya lead a happy-go-lucky life and get caught in the web of corrupt police officers and government that is out to bury them alive. But how did they get there in the first place? They were committing a crime themselves and it wasn’t petty. In the film it comes across as unintentionally linked to the mostly harmless things they do like talking their way out of a tangle with night time patrol cop. But the gravity of the crime they were committing  never washes upon them. Their impetus is conveniently tied to the narrative of Delhi (and to be honest – India) and its crimes against women. What happens to them should have slapped them across their face and made them look at themselves in the mirror but what Fugly asks them to do is look at how bad rest of the world is. It doesn’t fly. Kabir Sadanand must take notes from Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Are there any positives at all? The Dhup Chik song is pretty catchy.

(An edited version of this was first published in The New Indian Express)


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