|CULTURE & SOCIETY
Rustic has never been this raunchy
Warlords, gunfights and sultry women make Anurag Kashyap’s depiction of a gang of bad men bloody good
Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1)
Anurag Kashyap’s five-hour-long magnum opus Gangs of Wasseypur comes to Indian viewers in two parts of two-and-a-half hours each, treading a territory no Indian film has done before. Part 2 is slated for a July release. For a movie that takes you through the visceral badlands of rustic Wasseypur, a coal-mining city in Jharkhand, it is a jolt from the start: Indian TV’s saintly bahu — Tulsi Virani (Smriti Irani) from Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi — invites a confused viewer into the movie. As the camera pans out, a group of men are seen watching the serial on a TV in a teashop.
GOW P1 is on one hand, a gritty tale that unfolds in the courtyards of Dhanbad’s notorious coal mines where bullets fly and blood splatters, and on the other, is the odd comic ball where housewives shower you with their wildest expletives. GoW P1 spans across four decades, and starts with a narration of feudal rivalry, vengeance, ribald incursions and gore. In a pre-independent India, Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) masquerades as Sultana dacoit and is soon outlawed. He flees to Dhanbad from Wasseypur and finds himself toiling in a grim colliery. Post Independence, when the government divides the coal mines amongst the ‘Tatas and the Birlas’, he becomes a bahubali of Ramadhir Singh (Timangshu Dhulia), and is soon smothered when his ambitions to take over the mines are unearthed. His son Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) relocates to Wasseypur and grows up with a shaved head, swearing to avenge his father’s death.
Bajpai is unabashed in his lust for the women — Najma (Richa Chaddha) and Durga (Reemma Sen) — and in his blood-filled revenge. He makes love with an unconcealed passion and cuts, slashes, shoots with the same fervour. Even with blood-soaked hands, he draws both a smile and empathy from the viewer, his comic timing perfect. That also goes for most of Akash Dahiya’s cast. Expletives fly thick. The performance worth a mention is that of Chaddha, as a harangued wife who has to accept her husband’s philandering ways, is a cracker. Timangshu Dhulia, as a beefy yet understated antagonist carries away some of the shine from the stellar cast. GoW P1 builds the characters of Mohsina (Huma Quereshi), who in her aviators reminds you of Madhuri Dixit, and Sardar’s son Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) for P2.
Sneha Khanwalkar’s impressive soundtrack melts into the storyline like a dream; it is a character in its own right. The dialogues by Akhilesh Jaiswal, Anurag Kashyap, Sachin
K Ladia and Syed Zeeshan Qadri are exactly what a revenge drama unfolding within the innards of mofussil India needs. Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography flits from sepia-toned shots of Varanasi to grim shots of the colliery. Shooting on location adds an authenticity to the screen.
The movie at times looks like a spaghetti Western that is Indianised to the core. It draws from the quintessential feudal flick, Godfather, and also has undertones of Omkara in it. Having said that, Kashyap still makes it his own. His is a no-holds-barred commentary on the notoriety of the Dhanbad coalmines, in the making of which both ganglords and the government yield an equal clout. Yet, he is indulgent with the build-up, at times languorously doling out scenic mélanges. The trailer of P2 at the end promises a rush with characters (with some wily names as Tangent, Definite and Perpendicular) that chew blades and dodge machineguns.
However, despite its earthy beauty and bold outlook, GoW makes for a tedious watch and is aimed only at the discerning cinemagoer. The stage, at times, is too crowded. There are too many characters and needless to say, everybody fights for their screen space. Sultan Khan’s (Pankaj Tripathi) character does not age a bit throughout, and the generational progression has its confusing moments.
However, the last word lies in its raw, unabashed and layered slice of cinematic ingenuity. And, surely deserves a watch.