Director Vijay Kanakamedala displays good narrative control in the latter half but goes overboard while glorifying the police force
Last Updated: 01.36 PM, May 05, 2023
A police officer Shiva, his wife Aparna and their kid meet with a ghastly accident on a flyover. When Shiva wakes up at the hospital the next day, his wife and daughter are nowhere to be seen. While the hospital authorities claim he didn’t admit them in the first place, Shiva believes otherwise. After a war of words, a doctor confirms he’s diagnosed with dementia. Was Shiva bluffing after all?
Director Vijay Kanakamedala in his debut Naandhi showcased the plight of an innocent common man who’s framed in a case and needs to fight the system - cops and the judiciary - to seek justice. Redemption was certainly the dominant emotion in Naandhi. With Ugram, he showcases a cop’s fight for his family and reverses the scenario - the system is quite integral to his journey.
Telling the story of a cop, the director widens the canvas with Ugram - the fight is for the society as much as it’s for his family. Weaving a fictional backstory around real incidents of human trafficking, the film works when it sticks to its purpose of being an action thriller and not serve as a pamphlet of the police force. The premise is impressive but it goes overboard while glorifying the cops.
Ugram has a riveting start and there are several surprises as you try to put together various pieces of the puzzle. The mix of psychology, action and drama captures your imagination but the film loses its momentum when Shiva’s flashback portions commence. There’s a desperate effort to establish Allari Naresh as the brave action hero and the saviour of human race.
The film gets repetitive when every second sequence is in place to emphasise the aggression of Shiva as an angry young man. Minus any vulnerabilities, it’s hard to relate with his persona. The on-screen romance between the cop and the college student lacks spunk and unfolds like a mere formality. After the heroism and the typical family drama, just when as you sense the threat of the narrative falling apart, it wakes up from its slumber.
While the first hour is a mixed bag lacking focus, Vijay Kanakamedala gets his act together as Shiva tries to understand the psyche of the traffickers. There’s good tension in the storytelling without any distracting subplots and the well-choreographed action sequences keep the film alive. Allari Naresh truly enjoys his full-blown action avatar and it shows.
The director proves to be more adept with the thriller segments and enhancing the mass appeal of the sequences than handling the drama. The pre-climactic action block is one of the film’s major highlights and gives the protagonist a perfect outlet to vent out his anger. There’s no doubt that Ugram too celebrates violence and gore and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Even if it isn’t nailbiting always, Ugram wins your curiosity because of its focus on the mind games. The thriller-specialist Sricharan Pakala is on top of his game in a familiar space and makes good use of the raw emotions, intensity in the story, complementing the ambience of the situations. The cinematography is particularly a delight while dealing the action sequences filmed in the nights.
There’s no question that Ugram is a story that deserves to be told, but the detailing isn’t its strength. The priority is the protagonist and the modus operandi of the villain is kept under wraps for long (and is simplistic). It’s hard to find well-written characters beyond the leads. The film messes up with the medical jargon considerably too.
While the director gives Allari Naresh all the license to exaggerate and go overboard, the actor proves his worth by keeping his emotions under check and exploding when necessary. Mirnaa gets limited scope to shine but is brilliant when she’s around. It’s a relief to see Indraja cast in a role beyond the staple mother/mother-in-law of the protagonist and she performs it with sincerity.
Shatru sleepwalks through the ‘been-there-done-that’ zone as a cop and the likes of Sharath Lohitashwa, Nawab Shah are handed over staple roles that don’t add much value. The child actor Uha Reddy makes an impression in a brief role. If the drama was the USP of Naandhi, the director shows enough indications that he could be a capable action filmmaker with Ugram. With the former, you rooted for the character because he was a underdog; this isn’t the case in Ugram.
Apart from a few narrative inconsistencies, Ugram isn’t a bad film at all. While it’s a feast for action junkies post intermission, the pacing of the first hour and the detailing could’ve been better. Allari Naresh is explosive in an action avatar and the film proves he can handle larger-than-life roles with ease. Mirnaa, Indraja, composer Sricharan Pakala make a mark a well.