Sachin Khot's Ugly Aur Pagli promises to be a laugh riot and it does turn out to be one for the better half of its duration. The film is irreverent in the manner in which it reverses gender roles and is quite a whacky take on relationships between the sexes. But while the director and the film's writer manage to keep the first half rocking and thoroughly entertaining, it is towards the tail end that the film digresses into sentimental areas, which is just not keeping with its whacky mood. Like with most Hindi films, the premise is laid out beautifully but the director bungles the end. The conclusion is hurriedly put together and hence does not match the tone of what went earlier.
There are a couple other problems with the film as we are never given any reason as to why Kuhu (Mallika Sherawat) goes about slapping Ranvir Shorey's character, or why he continues to out up with it. To be fair to the film, Shorey's character often comes up with that question himself but has no answers as to why he is attracted to Kuhu and keeps humouring her. It makes one wonder if the director is trying to be different just for the heck of it. Of course, there have been reports of the film being totally based on a Korean film, which was remade in English. Leaving that bit aside, even if it is a copy, one expects a certain amount of coherence in the film's plot or a designed incoherence. As for Ugly Aur Pagli, the incoherence is more due to lack of skill and not by any design. What lifts the film and makes its entertaining are really the two lead actors, some of the minor characters, the dialogues and the music.
It is only Ranvir Shorey who could have played a character like he did with so much conviction. He, to a great extend, manages to keep the laughs going for the longest time possible. Shorey plays a normal young guy, has failed his engineering exams for the fourth time. The bane of his life is the lack of a girlfriend and he finds one in the most bizarre circumstances. He bumps into Kuhu at a railway station, when she is punch drunk. It ends with him carting her safely to a hotel and getting slapped for his labour of love. He slips into a bizarre relationship with her where she constantly slaps him around, gets drunk or makes all kinds of weird demands, like asking him to ride a bicycle clad in a red petticoat or walking around in her high heels. She even has a penchant for writing scripts which she expects him to applaud. The scripts too are all about role reversal, a domineering female taking on the meek male. The relationship chugs along till one day Kuhu disappears from his life.
The mystery of where she went and why she is the way she is, all unravels towards the end of the film and the two lovers are united again. But it is in this unraveling that all the whacko element of the film does a disappearing act and what we are left with is the standard Hindi film story about girl losing boyfriend, turning suicidal, getting drunk and the fact that Shorey's character reminds her of her ex. It's just pure sentiment from here onwards. That's where the director looses the plot and the film loses the zing thing. What keeps the interest alive are Shorey and Mallika. One cannot imagine anyone else but then portraying Ugly and Pagli. Mallika plays the sassy girl with the right amount of restrain and sauciness, never ever going over the top. She looks gorgeous in most places and puts in a worthy performance as well. As for Shorey, he is perfectly cast as the underdog, who is slapped at last a few hundred times during the course of the film. Whether playing Mallika's slap buddy, or as the lover pining for her, he is a class act ft. The actors are helped by the fact that the dialogues have been very cleverly penned.
There are certain minor actors as who stand out, despite their two bit roles. Sushmita Mukherjee and Tinnu Anand as Mallika's parents are hilarious. In fact, the scene where Shorey meets her parents for the first time is quite brilliant. Bharti Achrekar as Shorey's mother too is very effective. Former actress and glamour queen Zeenat Aman makes a special appearance in the end and plays a hand in reconciling the lovers. It would have been more interesting to see her in a lengthier role. The film's music, which has been composed by Anu Malik, goes well with the mood of the film. The songs are punchy and have been picturised very well indeed. The director is to be lauded for this.
The first half of Ugly Aur Pagli copied or not, works like a dream. It is only towards the end that the film sags as its script takes a predictable turn. After having been so unconventional thus far, one expected better or different from the maker. A half hearted attempt one would say, from Sachin Khot.