Ungli review: Stupid dialogues, silly plot make Emraan Hashmi's film a bore
Cringe-worthy dialogues make a mediocre film terrible.
There are two questions that lie at the heart of Rensil D'Silva's Ungli.
1. How far would you go for your gym trainer?
2. Given the cheesy stupidity of his dialogues, how on earth has Milap Zaveri landed either a career in dialogue writing or a date?
In the awkward cocktail of comedy, vigilante justice and the irony of Sanjay Dutt playing a policeman that is Ungli, Zaveri gets the credit for churning out some of the most cringe-worthy lines in Bollywood history. Thanks to Zaveri's wordplay, most of the punchlines in Ungli will make you groan while the earnest, emotional scenes are likely to make you guffaw. No matter how humourless a person you are, you cannot hear statements like "Aansoo sey sirf whisky dilute hoti hai" ("Tears only dilute whisky") and not giggle. Unfortunately, that line is meant to make your heart swell with emotion rather than induce peals of laughter. Though considering Zaveri is rumoured to be paid in the range of Rs 1 crore for his dialogues, the one laughing loudest, and all the way to the bank, is Zaveri himself.
Ungli is about a group of friends who decide they're going to break the law to uphold the good that is being trampled in contemporary society. Abhay (Randeep Hooda) is a rather dishy crime reporter with Aaj Tak. Goti (Neil Bhoopalam) is a computer engineer and Kalim (Angad Bedi) is a mechanic. With medical intern Maya (Kangana Ranaut) in tow, they make up the Ungli gang. The connection between them is their gym trainer, Ricky (Arunoday Singh). Ricky is seriously injured while trying to be a good samaritan on Mumbai's Carter Road and to avenge this tragedy, his sister Maya and three clients decide they're going to clean up the city.
When the Ungli gang's antics make a laughing stock of a politician, the city's police sits up and ACP Ashok Kale (Sanjay Dutt) is entrusted with the task of catching the vigilantes. Kale turns to Nikhil (Emraan Hashmi), a truant police officer, for help. However, Nikhil has more in common with the Ungli gang than the police. How do we know this? Because when Nikhil feels like snogging his girlfriend, he makes an anonymous call to the police saying there's a bomb in her hostel. Some would sneak into their girlfriend's hostel and make out in the comfort of a bed. Nikhil prefers to have the entire hostel evacuated so that he can kiss his girlfriend against a tree. Which goes to show that Nikhil, like the Ungli gang, is more interested in an adrenaline rush than in details like logic and actually achieving some tangible purpose.
There isn't much by way of either suspense or originality in Ungli. The boys are essentially the millenial Munnabhais, only hunkier but less lovable than the iconic Munna. Their antics aren't entirely novel either. One involves tattooing a bad guy, which is quite clearly lifted from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and tweaked for comic effect. The women are irrelevant. Ranaut might be on the posters, but her Maya is about as memorable as the nutrients in a McDonald's burger. Neha Dhupia plays Abhay's love interest and colleague, Teesta, who is the sort of prize idiot that doesn't file a police case when an intruder breaks into her home. Dhupia actually has more of a role than Ranaut does in Ungli, but that isn't saying much since Ranaut has only about five minutes on screen and one unnecessary (but melodious) song to her name.
What Ungli does capture decently is the camaraderie between the men who are actually just a group of mischievous boys hanging out. Hooda and Hashmi are engaging as Abhay and Nikhil. They along with Dutt deserve awards for being able to say Zaveri's lines with a straight face. Some of the Ungli gang's pranks and conversations are genuinely amusing, but they're not enough to distract the audience from how stupidly ridiculous much of the plot is. This is a world in which gangsters keep all their money in cabinets whose doors are wide open in order to give us a good view of all the cash in the room. Here, hardened crime reporters don't find it dodgy that a man old enough to work in the bomb squad is a college student. There are more holes in Ungli's plot than there are potholes in Mumbai roads and D'Silva hopes that we will focus instead on how deep Hooda's voice is (he does most of the talking in the film).
Ultimately, however, you have to wonder about the intelligence of the adults who think they're bringing about social change by traipsing around the city wearing masks and playing practical jokes on the powerful. It's all intensely adolescent.
The idea of using the raised middle finger as a sign meant to cause offence is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. Apparently, that classical civilization gets the credit for having noticed the phallic possibilities in the gesture. Considering the imagery, it's fitting that Ungli is all about boys looking for a high. Much like the middle finger salute, however, Ungli ends up to be a rather pointless and forgettable gesture.
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