If you are expecting Ungli, directed by Rensil D’Silva, to be as crackling as the vigilante film A Wednesday (starring the supremely talented Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher) or as thought-provoking as Rang De Basanti, then you are knocking at the wrong door.
Ungli, led by Randeep Hooda, Emraan Hashmi and Sanjay Dutt, is loaded with noble intentions, but is weighed down by uneven execution and simplistic twists.
The drama begins with an old man waiting endlessly at a government office for his hard-earned pension. The government officials in charge of doling out his money are corrupt and will not get things rolling unless he greases their palms with some cash. The hapless victim loses his cool, grabs the officer by his collar and suffers a minor stroke soon after. But while he’s recuperating in a hospital, a young group of masked vigilantes bring the dishonest officers to their knees by strapping a bomb onto them.
They have done what the cops or the establishment couldn’t do — bring down the bad guys swiftly. They become instant heroes in the public eye and they bestow upon them the title of Ungli (“finger”) gang. With masks on, they may feel like superheroes whose name depicts what they think about the system, but once their masks are off the viewers realise that they are a bunch of amateurs who are trying hard to be bold and fearless.
Abhay (Hooda), a crime reporter for a TV news channel, is the leader of the pack. His friends (Kangana Ranaut as medical intern Maya, Neil Bhoopalan as the computer engineer Goti and Angad Bedi as Kalim as a mechanic) are regular people who love to go to the gym and go clubbing. They look fetching, but, barring Hooda, they don’t look too convinced about their violent vigilantism. It’s hard to believe that they can hatch conspiracies that wreak terror on the minds of evil people since this is a bunch who choose their hideout (an old garage in Mumbai) because there are burger and pizza joints that deliver nearby. Priorities, anyone?
It’s also hard to believe that the entire Mumbai police force would divert all their energies into nabbing the elusive Ungli gang members either. Aren’t they more pressing matters to attend to? Just after their first mission to root out evil in society, an irreverent but honest cop (Dutt) is put in charge of catching these “intelligent criminals”. Did they mean “petty criminals”?
The Ungli gang’s vigilantism is never grand until the climax, and by then you may be past caring. To watch them repeatedly bring down corrupt traffic constables and dishonest officers who issue driver’s licenses is not exactly riveting.
Hashmi, who plays a sprightly police officer who goes undercover to nab them, is under-utilised, so is Ranaut, who barely has any good lines. But what’s most disappointing is the inspiration behind their vigilantism. It’s lame and it’s tough for a viewer to be invested in their causes. Also, inserting songs set in swanky nightclubs doesn’t exactly scream nail-biting whodunit.
The team behind Ungli may have set out to make a noble film, but where’s the punch?