Actors: Emraan Hashmi, Sanjay Dutt, Randeep Hooda
I’m sure you’ve seen videos or even film promos on TV where the prominently pointed middle finger gets blurred on the screen. It’s as if to protect children from learning a new sign language, we’re telling them that the middle finger doesn’t actually exist in the human body!
The ‘ungli’ this movie’s title refers to is the ring finger, but it gets flashed prominently to mean the same thing, basically “Up yours.” It’s the party-symbol for a gang of well-intentioned thugs called Ungli. The censors thankfully don’t mind this public display of disaffection. They show as much restraint and maturity when everyone in this movie is shown to be villains of the “system”, deserving of instant punishment—auto rickshaw drivers who refuse rides, RTO chaps who issue driving licenses without conducting tests, the entire Mumbai police force….
To be fair, this is only a film. To be fairer still, we’re all corrupt in one way or another. Only degrees differ. But this problem must be fixed. The solution, according to this film, has to be found outside the law, because the state or the “system” itself is the problem. This is, in my experience, a very common upper class South Bombay world-view. As are the problems being highlighted in this picture, which might seem petty to most of India—be it potholes on roads or hoardings of politicians above them.
Mumbai’s English language dailies that primarily serve an upper middle-class readership rightly make much noise over these issues. The Ungli gang in this film similarly conducts sting ops to shame the city’s offenders. This is great service to journalism. The main characters in this movie make for fine reporters.
As did Arvind Kejriwal, the anti-corruption crusader from the middle class, who may have inspired this angry and well-meaning film. It’s another matter that at some point, due to certain obvious pressures, the mainstream media was forced to ignore Mr Kejriwal and his exposés.
But these unknown Ungli dudes go a few steps further. They in fact haul up, maul, abduct and mete out punishment to cops, rickshawallahs, netas etc. One by one they film this abuse. Top news channels happily run these videos. Their viewers feel exhilarated. Catharsis is complete.
That, my friend, is the disturbingly repetitive plot of this supposedly realistic film that’s got some top actors to show up at what must be less than their current market rates. I suspect this alignment of stars has something to do with the film’s producer, Karan Johar, who could do this society great service by writing a book on ‘how to win friends and influence people’.
Randeep Hooda plays the leader of Ungli gang here. Kangana Ranaut plays one of his band-mates. Sanjay Dutt is the tough cop. Even minor parts have been filled up by reasonably well-known faces—Mahesh Manjrekar, Neha Dhupia, Shiv Subramaniam… Lest we forget this is also, with due respect, an Emraan Hashmi film.
These fellows have together decided to help uproot greed from India. Day after day, the Ungli gang comprising four unprofessional jocks with no criminal experience leave their pugmarks at public places, homes of profile politicians, top bureaucrats… Still, no one can catch them. This tells you the problem with India is inefficiency, not corruption. Whether bribed or not, how ineffective is this Mumbai police? Just as ineffective as this juvenile flick I guess.