Planet Bollywood
Producer: Hiroo Yash Johar and Karan Johar
Director: Rensil DSilva
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda, Kangana Ranaut, Angad Bedi, Neil Bhoopalan and Sanjay Dutt
Music: Salim Sulaiman, Sachin Jigar, Gulraj Singh and Aslam Keyi
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Kumaar and Manoj Yadav
Genre: Thriller
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 28 November 2014
Reviewed by: Anish Mohanty  - Rating: 7.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.09 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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Kurbaan, in my opinion, was one of the best films to have come out of the Hindi film industry in 2009. I still lament the commercial failure of the film as I thought it to be a brave and sincere effort by director Rensil D’Silva. After making a film based on the subject of terrorism, Rensil D’Silva now tackles the issue of corruption with his latest offering Ungli. Rensil had co-written ‘Rang De Basanti’, a film which dealt with the same issue. Unlike ‘Rang De Basanti’, which was an out and out serious affair, 'Ungli' seems to be looking at things in a lighter vein.

While making ‘Kurbaan’ Rensil remained faithful to the subject that the film was dealing with. He did not incorporate any such element that would have worked against the mood of the film. The promotions of ‘Ungli’ mainly consisted of promotional videos that had nothing to do with the core subject of the film. Maybe, the makers did all this to garner some attention for this long delayed film. These promotional tactics disappointed those who were expecting another hard hitting thriller from Rensil and one wondered whether the director succumbed to the pressures of the producers who wanted him make him a more commercially viable film after the failure of ‘Kurbaan’. Putting all apprehensions and fears aside, I went to the theatre to check out this film made by someone, whose first film had a profound effect on my psyche.

Crime reporter Abhay (Randeep Hooda), car mechanic Kalim (Angad Bedi), medical intern (Kangana Ranaut) and computer engineer Gautam / Goti (Neil Bhoopalan) suffer from a personal tragedy owing to the loophole in the judiciary system. They decide to take matters in their own hands and turn masked vigilantes to teach people, who adhere to corrupt practices, a lesson. While the civilians hail the ‘Ungli’ gang for their activities, the police believe that the gang is flouting the laws. ACP Kale (Sanjay Dutt) is given the responsibility to nab the gang. Sanjay takes the help of Nikhil (Emraan Hashmi) who has zilch interest in his job as a police officer. Nikhil, with the help of a well thought out plan, becomes a part of the Ungli gang and manages to gain the trust of the other members. He, then, waits for the right opportunity to lay a trap for the gang.

‘Ungli’ begins with a bang. The film opens with an elderly man asking for his rightful pension amount to be paid to him. The government officials ask for a bribe which sets the upright man fuming. The man suffers from a stroke soon after. After getting to know of this incident, the gang decides to teach the officials a lesson. The way the gang does this, is not only amusing, but would also make you cheer for them. This is followed by an imaginatively designed title sequence, which comes across as a graphic novel.

‘Ungli’ deals with issues that may seem to be small when compared to the bigger issues at hand. But, these are exactly the issues that trouble us on a daily basis. Right from a corrupt officer seeking a bribe to a road filled with potholes that does not get repaired in spite of the public paying tax- all of us are familiar with these scenarios. Rensil, who doubles up as a writer apart from directing the film, wants his audience to get entertained. Hence, he has infused this issue based film with dollops of humour that is completely in sync with the narrative. At a runtime of about two hours, the film maintains a brisk pace and is devoid of any scenes that would serve no other purpose than increasing the length of the film. The methods that the group members undertake to deal with the issues may come across as unrealistic to some but in all fairness, they are far from being impossible. Even as the plot gets predictable at times, it’s the brilliant execution that keeps one thoroughly engaged.

Having said that, the way the gang goes about its final case, appears to be very convenient. One would expect to witness some high voltage drama in the climax but that does not really happen. Of course, the trick that they play would leave you in splits but the ease with which they carry out their plan is not very convincing.

Emraan Hashmi is the star attraction of the film and probably that’s the reason the makers decided to promote him as the main lead of the film. Well, the fans of the actor who would like to watch the film just for the actor, should brace themselves for some disappointment. Emraan makes a belated entry and his character gains some prominence only in the second half. He manages to make his presence felt in some key scenes, though. Not only Randeep Hooda has the best role in the film, he delivers the most powerful performance of the lot. He is brilliant in the scenes that require him to be intense and shines in his playful banter with Neha Dhupia. Kangana Ranaut gets minimal scope but is good nevertheless. Her jarring accent which was not evident in some of her last films, has come to the fore again. Angad Bedi displays the brilliant comic timing that one has witnesses in his earlier performance in F.A.L.T.U and is equally effective in the dramatic scenes. Neil Bhoopalan has an incredible screen presence and acts very well. Sanjay Dutt plays his age and the character he plays suits him perfectly. ‘Ungli’ was shot in sync sound. Even when a film is shot in sync sound, some of the actors may be required to dub some of their lines after the film has been shot. In some portions in the film, Sanjay’s voice has been dubbed by a voice over artist who tries to mimic the actor’s voice and well, it shows! However, that’s a minor glitch. Neha Dhupia gets to play a significant role after a long time and does complete justice to her part. In fact, she gets a better role than Kangana, who was promoted as the leading lady of the film. Arunoday Singh appears in a cameo but has character is of importance. Mahesh Manjrekar is good in a brief role. The film has some interesting cameos by popular actors like Raza Murad and Reema Laagoo. Shraddha makes an appearance in the song ‘Dance Basanti’.

Rensil D’Silva does a brilliant job as a director. As a writer, he could have worked on the climax a little more and on certain portions that come across as formulaic. The writer-director is aided by Deepa Bhatia’s razor sharp editing that lends the film its brisk pace. Songs (Salim Sulaiman, Sachin Jigar, Gulraj Singh and Aslam Keyi) don’t make much of an impact but are appropriately placed. Background score (John Stewart Eduri) is good. Milap Zaveri’s dialogues are entertaining but could have been subtle at times. In some scenes, the witty one-liners elevated the mood whereas in some intense scenes, the over-the-top acted as dampener of sorts. Hemant Chaturvedi’s camerawork is very good.

Ungli does not live up to the high standards set by Rensil D’Silva with his first film but is not a disappointment either. ‘Rang De Basanti’ had led to a sort of awakening among the people and inspired them to stand for what’s right. Will ‘Ungli’ be able to achieve something like that? I am not sure. Does it entertain? Yes!

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