Ugly is a 2013 Indian Hindi-language thriller film written, co-produced and directed by Anurag Kashyap. Jointly produced by Phantom Films and DAR Motion Pictures, the film stars Rahul Bhat, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Vineet Kumar Singh, Girish Kulkarni, Ronit Roy, Surveen Chawla and Anshika Shrivastava in the lead roles. It also features TV actor Abir Goswami in his last film appearance before his death in 2013. Told in the course of a week, Ugly follows the story of a struggling actor Rahul Varshney (Bhat), whose daughter Kali (Shrivastava) disappears, and the events that follow.
The film’s background score and music were composed by Brian McOmber and G. V. Prakash Kumar respectively, while Gaurav Solanki wrote the lyrics. Nikos Andritsakis served as the film’s cinematographer and Aarti Bajaj was its editor. Kashyap had the idea for the film since 2006 and started writing the script after talking to one of his friends, who was in the Special Task Force, Lucknow, about kidnapping cases. He chose actors who could connect with the characters in the film.
Ugly premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It was also screened at the 2014 New York Indian Film Festival, the third Ladakh International Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The digital poster of the film was released on 8 May 2013. The circumstances that led to the birth of Kali were separately made as short film, titled Kali Katha, and was released in YouTube on 23 December 2014. The film was theatrically released on 26 December 2014 after a two-year delay due to Kashyap’s refusal to carry static anti-smoking warnings in the film. He had filed a case in court, but ultimately lost it. Upon release, the film received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, grossing over ₹6.24 crore (US$870,000) worldwide.
Shalini is a depressed housewife who attempts suicide, but is interrupted by her ten-year-old daughter from her first marriage, Kali. Shalini calls her husband, Police Chief Shoumik Bose, asking for money but he refuses. Her brother Siddhant tries to convince Bose to smuggle iPhones. Rahul, Shalini’s first husband and Kali’s biological father, takes Kali to a work assignment, where she chooses to stay in the car. While Rahul is waiting for his casting director, a mask seller tries to catch Kali’s attention with children’s masks. Chaitanya soon arrives and gives Rahul a film script and informs him that Kali was not in his car. The duo rush back and find her missing. Chaitanya asks the mask-seller about Kali and notices that he has her phone. The man tries to get away but is eventually killed by a car while being chased by the two. They later go to the police station to report Kali’s disappearance. The local police inspector Jadhav asks Rahul why he was travelling with his daughter. Rahul says that since his divorce, he can only meet Kali on Saturdays. Two officers find the mask seller’s house and ask his aunt about Kali, but she claims to know nothing.
Bose taps Shalini’s phone and listens to her conversation with Rakhee, a B-grade film actress. After being informed of his step daughter’s kidnapping, he arrives at the station and beats Chaitanya. Bose accuses Rahul of the kidnapping and shows him the recording of Rahul and Shalini’s conversation where she did not want Kali to meet him. Bose later reminds him of their college days when he used to bully him. Disguising his voice, Chaitanya calls Rahul and demands ransom. The call is received by Bose instead. Chaitanya also informs his agent to conduct an audition of ten-year-old girls to re-create dialogues for a ransom call. Next day, Jadhav follows Chaitanya into his office, where the police tap his phone and find out that he is in debt. He is arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Kali. Rahul escapes from the police captivity after a doctor arrives for his check-up. Later, Bose overhears one of Shalini’s conversations, in which she explains how Rahul used to beat her after marriage and how she met Bose after filing a complaint. Jadhav interrogates Chaitanya who says that he had called for ransom because Bose was more interested in his personal grudge with Rahul than the kidnapping. Rahul tells Bose that Chaitanya could have not kidnapped Kali since he is aware of Rahul’s lack of funds. The police expand their search operation.
Chaitanya uses a girl’s audition to demand ransom from Rahul. Rahul, who is at Rakhee’s place, tells Chaitanya about the call, which is tapped by the police. Chaitanya tells him to talk to Bose, who can arrange the money. Later, Rakhee urges Shalini to pay the ransom. Chaitanya is subsequently arrested by the police, and Rahul, who escapes, is later arrested after he robs a jewelry store. Rakhee calls Rahul, and using the same recorded voice, demands ransom. Siddhant also makes a ransom call of ₹50 lakh (US$70,000) to Shalini, who asks her father for ₹65 lakh (US$91,000). She hides ₹15 lakh (US$21,000) and delivers the rest. Rakhee eventually flees, stealing the money. Bose asks her about the money, but she does not answer and shoots him in the shoulder. Siddhant is then arrested with the money. Jadhav tells Rahul to deliver the money to the kidnapper but Chaitanya evades police interception and throws away his phone. Rahul, Chaitanya and Rakhee now have the money and Rahul calls Bose to taunt him. Realizing that Bose is unaware of Kali’s whereabouts, Rahul murders Chaitanya, whilst Rakhee quietly leaves with the money. The police revisit the marketplace and talk to a woman who knew the mask seller, and find out that they have a history of abducting children. The woman finally leads the police to Kali inside the sidecar of a bike, where she is found dead. The police discover that she had been kidnapped by the mask-seller, who had previously died in the chase.
Rahul Bhat as Rahul Kapoor/Varshney
Ronit Roy as Shoumik Bose
Tejaswini Kolhapure as Shalini Bose
Vineet Kumar Singh as Chaitanya Mishra
Surveen Chawla as Rakhee Malhotra
Siddhanth Kapoor as Siddhant
Girish Kulkarni as Inspector Jadhav
Abir Goswami as ACP Gupta
Madhavi Singh as ACP Upadhyay
Anshika Shrivastava as Kali Varshney
Alia Bhatt as Young Shalini Bose
Saharsh Kumar Shukla as Gangster Pujari