Before you get misguided by the high minded critics in town who fail to appreciate simple things in life and movies, who look for reasons under the earth and beyond the sky to say bad things about any and every movie ever made unless they are paid well enough to say otherwise OR unless they are member of the ‘Bollywood’s Mutual Admiration Society’ or ‘Star Power Sucker’s Club’, and before you fall victim of the vicious process of letting someone else decide what film you should and shouldn’t watch…let me tell you, please give this week’s release ‘Ugly Aur Pagli‘ a shot, I have liked it and I think you would do too. Unless of course you really dislike the main star cast, Mallika Sherawat and Ranvir Shorey.

This is the story of an ordinary romance between Ugly and Pagli being narrated in a manner refreshingly sweet and funny.

I know you would read a lot of reviews, on papers, blogs, TV, tabloids etc. but it would all only confuse you. My suggestions is to go for it and decide for yourself and while I say that allow me to give you the reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed the film and felt ‘Ugly Aur Pagli’ and NOT ‘Jaane Tu’ is 2008’s best release till date.

The movie should run on Mallika’s shoulders alone and I sincerely hope it does. She plays the Kuhu, a drop-dead gorgeous, outrageously crazy Bengali college girl. I don’t think Bollywood has ever put a girl like her in the heroine’s shoes, forget heroine, I haven’t even seen such an outrageous vamp in Bollywood. Dang, you almost have a sadistic psychopath in her. So much so that you would just hate her for being such an over demanding, always dictating, physically abusive bitch. But that’s you, you are not ‘Ugly’.

‘Ugly’ our hero Kabir (Ranvir Shorey) on the contrary loves her. He is truly madly deeply in love with her and no matter how much you fail to understand why should anybody be in love with a weird girl like Pagli, you would still want Ugly and Pagli to meet and be happy together.

Kabir is a dumb engineering student, getting scolding from his mom all the time. He met Kuhu accidentally in a railway station, one thing led to another and he found himself stuck with her in a drunk state completely passed out in Parel station. He wanted to drop her home but couldn’t’ find a cab. So ended up carrying her to a hotel and take a room there. Kuhu happens to be his first step towards girls or romance, this being the first time he was in a room alone with a girl, reason enough for the sweetly dumb Kabir to fall in love.

The next morning onwards, Kuhu pretty much forces herself upon him as his girlfriend in every possible sense except that she never said she was his girlfriend or that they were dating. She would compel him to bunk his classes to join her for some fun party, which might not be so much fun for him. She’d get violent and start slapping him if he tries to avoid her. She also happens to be a very imaginative script writer. Every time she would write one, he would have to read it and say nice things about it and probably get slapped in return. She would hijack him to Goa to celebrate their 100 days of meeting each other and being into a relationship, which she prefers to call, that of a master and slave. He however is waiting for the day she’d say ‘I love you’ to him. Rest of the story you’d have to find out yourself.

The entire movie is about such histrionics between the two. The script is in no hurry to introduce any sub plot or additional characters to complicate the romance. There is no twist to the story, no earth shattering revelation regarding the history or geography of the characters. You have the typical song and dance sequences that every Bollywood flick has and if you ask me they are never required, not even in a Taare Zameen Par, but we always have them. So don’t complaint about the song and dance. Better still, you could watch Ranvir doing a Bollywood song and dance sequence for the first time which is quite a funny sight.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the bizarre futuristic super hero movie scripts that Kuhu wrote wherein she would always be the lady super hero. While the elite critics might rubbish them as ‘irrelevant to the main plot’ or ‘forced humor’, I was touched by the simplicity in the way her pathetic imagination goes.

There are many such simple things in the small nook and corners of the film reflecting upon the insignificant traits of each character. Like when Ranvir is in a lift, he farts and being impressed by the noise the fart made he also decides to give it a cute name.

Sushmita Mukherjee appears in the film for 10 min as Kuhu’s mother and portrays an uber neaka high society Bengali woman with such annoying perfection, you’d only have to see her to believe what I am saying. More so because I can’t explain it in words what it is like being a Bengali neaka woman, I couldn’t even find an English word for naeka, which makes me wonder, are only Bengali woman found to be naeka? Once you have seen her you’d know what I am talking about.

There are plenty of situational comedy in the movie which could have come across as forced humor but thanks to Ranvir’s smooth performance they are bound to make you laugh, or smile at least.

I said the movie should run on Mallika’s shoulders alone, but I must add Pagli is absolutely incomplete without Ugly. Ranvir and Mallika share the screen time equally and I don’t think any one of them overshadowed the other. I wouldn’t exactly say they had as great a chemistry as Mallika had with Rahul Bose in ‘Pyar Ke Side Effects’ but they are not bad. Ranvir’s talent as an actor hardly needs any certification after movies like Mixed Doubles, Khosla Ka Ghosla and Mithya. Mallika has come of age too. She has got rid of the loud makeup and looks more trendy than before.

The film music is by Anu Malik, who now has a few more A and U in his name in exactly what combination I can’t remember. He did an impressive job at the track in the opening credits sequence, which was also one of the most beautiful opening credit sequence I have seen in a long time except of course ‘Taare Zameen Par’. Rest of the songs are typical Anumalikish songs.

Before I end, I must touch upon a little bit on, what is now considered my trade mark…The review rip off. Review to be ripped is the one by Rajeev Masand on IBN Live. Rajeev has given it 2 stars and if people were to go movie watching solely depending upon his review, his review has sealed the fate of this movie. I don’t wish to dissect the review line by line, am quoting this para below instead, which pretty much sums up the review.

Rajeev Masand writes,

In the end, Ugly Aur Pagli doesn’t quite work because it’s corny and contrived and it tries too hard. For a romantic comedy to work, you have to like the couple enough to want them to end up together, but honestly there’s little to like about either Kabir or Kuhu. He’s a doormat and she’s an overbearing kid. Apart from a few decent jokes, it’s unlikely you’re going to enjoy this film much.

In case Rajeev Masand missed it, the opening credit made it very obvious that the film is about strange and weird love, between mother and child, a saint and a pup, two opp sex cross dressers and more such strangeness.

I always believed there is no big deal in falling in love with someone who is really lovable, true challenge is to love someone who is weird and not so lovable. And when someone can achieve that, you know it is true love indeed. Perhaps only an Ugly can love a Pagli. And once the audience is convinced Ugly does have that love for her, that itself should be reason enough for the film to work, it doesn’t matter whether audience love Pagli or not.

I was convinced of that love in the scene where Ranvir sobbed like a child and that’s why the movie worked for me.

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