According to the official brochure for the New York Indian Film Festival, Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly is “a terrible tale of corruption, indifference and systemic violence [which] starts when the 10-year-old daughter of an aspiring actor disappears.”
Given that description, I didn’t expect to laugh several times during the NYIFF’s opening night screening of the film earlier this month. But as the viewer watches the aftermath of the child’s sudden abduction, there are severely deeply cynical, darkly hilarious scenes that show Anurag Kashyap’s talents in full form.
The film’s central event is the kidnapping of 10-year-old Kali, which occurs on a Saturday when she is in her divorced, shiftless father Rahul’s care. While it appears on the surface that Rahul loves his daughter and wants her to be happy, it’s also clear that he is completely unable to put Kali’s needs before his own, a circumstance that unintentionally contributed to the tragedy. (Kali disappears when Rahul leaves her waiting inside his car while he discusses business with his best friend and casting director Chaitanya, in the hopes of finally getting his big break.)