Rensil D’Silva is known for simplifying the politics in his films. His films have dealt with complex issues but are oversimplified to the point of being funny. Yes, he did contribute to Rang De Basanti and while that film may suffer from similar problems, a deft handler like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra can be credited for turning it into the heart wrenching roller coaster it is. Ungli is far worse. It is generic. It is laughably bad at the way it executes some things. There is no coherence in staging. And it also suffers from bad acting apart from Sanjay Dutt who tries really hard to maintain a straight face through it all. As do we.
Ungli deals with a vigilante gang that specializes in punishing corrupt officials with firecrackers or making them eat ten rupee notes. You read that right. They also manage to break into a politician’s house with 5-6 security guards on duty and stick up their posters showing the finger (Ungli, you see?) all over the house. I am usually not a stickler for plot realism and that probably has much to do with why something like Rang De Basanti worked well for me. But Ungli marries this with a lot of empty talk by empty characters. The bunch that comprises of Abhay (Randeep Hooda), Maya (Kangana Ranaut), Kalim (Angad Bedi) and Goti (Neil Bhoopalam) – note the names – decide to give it back to the system and it’s just that. A decision. Their missions don’t send pulses racing. There are no visible challenges or a perception of evolution to their modus operandi.
The film also tries to mirror some true events but only on the surface level. Ungli lists its disclaimers but the symbol itself may be a reference to the party that heavily lost the last general election. There is a throwaway shot to underage prodigal son driving an expensive car recklessly. There was a similar incident recently that gave birth to many conspiracy theories thanks to its hushed up handling. But everything in this movie is done with broad strokes. On top of the lazy writing sits all round bad acting. Sanjay Dutt as ACP Kale (possibly problematic with all the irony behind this casting) is the only sincere one of the lot. The members of Ungli need more than a crash course in acting. Above all, Kangana Ranaut and Randeep Hooda come too close to losing all their karma points earned with Queen and Highway respectively. Neither us nor Neha Dhupia (who is named Teesta. Not Setalvad but get it?) knows what she’s doing in the film. Emraan Hashmi is the biggest mystery of all. Is he a police officer? Is he undercover? Has he resigned? Or is he a law student? It’s quite confusing. Ultimately you rest easy thinking he is just there to give that one self-referencing line about kissing. That was a good one. Beyond that, Ungli is an embarrassment.