Gangs of Wasseypur – Review
Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur a dark, violent tale that kicks its journey through pre-independence 1940′s to 2000′s demands your full attention or you are at danger of getting bumped out of the narrative and events.
Set in the rustic, wild, rural land in Danbad district which shifted its address from pre-independence Bengal, later to Bihar and now in Jharkand is blessed with minerals. The exploitation of coal is actually at the cost of the exploitation of poverty and illiterate local population which leads to proliferation of blood, gore and the might of machetes and bullets in collusion with political class, bureaucracy, and the rogues. The seeds of revenge are sowed in the tiny hamlet of Wasseypur when Shahid Khan is outcasted after crossing lines with the local gangster and impersonating as legendary Sultana Daku. He then joins as the pehlwan of Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), a local mafia. Sensing Shahid Khan’s larger ambitions of becoming a mafia himself, he eliminates him one day, when he takes him out of home, only to not return forever. Shahid khan’s kid, Sardar Khan is whisked away by his uncle escaping the knives of Ramdadhir Singh’s men who were send to eliminate the family. Sardar Khan grows up in Danbad with only revenge in thoughts and action and sports a shaved head which he swears will be bald till he takes revenge on Ramadhir Singh. Time shifts. Ramadhir Singh grows up to be a politician and a MLA now, while Sardar Khan his nemesis engineers himself to become a ruthless, cold-blooded gangster. Amidst all the butchery and gore, the film also delves into the timeline of Sardar Khan’s family life with his marriage first to Nagma (Richa Chadda) and his second marriage with Durga (Reema Sen) and his children.
It needs a huge effort, attention and narrative skill to tell a tale that spans 60 years,many generations and changing landscape and Anurag Kashyap weaves through the time and characters adeptly. He deftly handles the intricacies and extreme lunacies of human nature with so many characters that walk around, many getting butchered in between. Standing tall is Manoj Bajpai as Sardar Khan with the fire of revenge burning inside and ruthlessly and meticulously planning his rise as gangster taking advantage of the turmoil and lawlessness of the countryside and equally being goofy, quirky even getting beaten up and chased by his wife, Manoj is in full flourish and sizzles on-screen with his controlled acting. Matching him is Tigmanshu Dhulia (for the filmi un-initiated, do note he is the director of movies like Shagird, Saheb biwi aur gangster and Paan Singh Tomar) as Ramadhir Singh with an understated calmness even when Sardar Khan is baying for his downfall. Then you have the womenfolk in the movie dominated by men and blood. Richa Chadda as Nagma, a nondescript women when she marries Sardar Khan then flourishes with her screams, chases him when he visits other women, rues, shouts but manages the family when her husband leaves her to other woman and then there is Reema Sen, a Hindu Bengali woman who marries Sardar khan and also we have Huma Quereshi, who makes her presence felt in the fading end of the movie and promises a bigger role in the second part of the movie (Yes, GOW is a two parts and you have a to be continued at the end, the movie was screened in Cannes continuously taking some 5 hours, for Indian audience it would be presented as two parts) Rest of the characters and you have a long list for me to name all of them does a very commendable work and Nawazuddin Sidiqui as Faizal, film crazy, drug addict son of Sardar Khan who expectedly would get the larger role in the second part of GOW hints ably that he can match Manoj in acting.
As much blood is spilled without any remorse or sin, expletives fires out of the mouth at free will adding to the rustic and darker shades of the movie. Sneha Khanwalkar’s folk music and GV Prakash’s gripping, rustic background music is the strong pillar of the movie along with Rajeev Ravi’s mowing camera that is a brilliant visual,dark canvas capturing the changing landscape and fallacies of the people.
On a final note Anurag Kashyap’s GOW is an epic bloody tale that drains you at the end even though it adeptly holds you till the end. A bit of butchering in the editing table could have made it deservedly less demanding on the audience, nevertheless it’s a great movie but full of blood and expletives.