Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Mohit Marwah, Kiara Advani, Vijender Singh and Arfi Lamba
Director: Kabir Sadanand
“Yeh Fugly Fugly kya hai?” goes the title song of director Kabir Sadanand’s muddled film. It’s also a question you ask yourself repeatedly as you leave the cinema after a viewing, still baffled by the wildly inconsistent narrative.
Four friends on the cusp of adulthood live it up in their native Dilli, staying out till late, flouting the rules because one of them has an influential dad. The ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Fukrey’ influences are hard to miss, but weighed down by bad acting, banal dialogue, and clumsy execution, there isn’t a hint of authenticity in these bonding scenes. The quartet – Dev (Mohit Marwah), Gaurav (Vijender Singh), Aadi (Arfi Lamba), and Devi (Kiara Advani) – finds themselves in a bind after locking horns with sadistic Jat thulla, Inspector Chautala (Jimmy Shergill), who threatens to frame them for murder unless they pay him an obscene amount of money.
But this premise, not all bad, gets a Rang De Basanti-inspired twist as the story becomes one about fighting corruption, defending one’s honor, and inspiring a national awakening. Alas, none of it rings true because the writing’s so affected. There is no connective tissue between individual scenes, and Sadanand resorts to stereotyping of the most lazy order. We get flaming gay men who pounce at anything that moves, lecherous rich women with a taste for young men, fat ladies who send their daughters out to please clients, and oily politicians who can’t keep it in their pants.
Of the cast, Jimmy Shergill is deliciously evil as the blackmailing cop, but watch how he hams as the character finally gets his just desserts. The four youngsters, sadly, leave no impression, particularly Olympic boxing champ Vijender Singh, who survives the comic bits but struggles in the dramatic scenes. The one character that stayed with me was a feisty old biddy who distracted an income tax officer while her grandson made off with wads of notes. Genuine comic moments like these are few and far between in this well-intentioned but sloppy film.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for ‘Fugly’. In the end it’s neither thrilling nor stirring. Just a wasted opportunity.