A decades-old rivalry between a Bollywood wannabe and a brutal police chief shines a light on Mumbai’s dark side, in Indian director Anurag Kashyap’s fast-moving psychological thriller “Ugly” about the kidnapping of a young girl.
Enthusiastically received at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, the aptly titled film was inspired by real events in a city blighted by child trafficking and prostitution.
A suicidal woman sets the scene in an upmarket apartment as she contemplates a concoction of pills and alcohol; she eyes a scarf hanging from a ceiling fan before putting a gun in her month.
About to pull the trigger, she is interrupted by her young daughter, full of life.
Fast forward and a police inspector mocks and toys with the girl’s father and his producer friend as they try to report her abduction from his car.
“They are divorced, that’s the problem – divorce,” he tells the actor. Turning to the producer, he reels off the names of some of Bollywood’s biggest stars.
“I suppose it’s you who decides (to cast them),” he sneers, surrounded by sniggering subordinates.
But his menacing tone turns to panic when he realises that the girl is the step-daughter of his police commissioner.