Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur (Part I)

Shashank Reddy

Gangs of Wasseypur (Part I) (hereafter called GoW, cause..) is a supremely fun filled testosterone charged epic that clocks in at 2 hours 40 mins and enthralls you for every second. The movie is not without its flaws but you choose to overlook them in retrospect, simply because the better parts of the movie greatly outnumber the not so good parts.

 First of all the scale is epic. Covering almost fifty years, starting from 1941 to the early 1990s, the movie chronicles a revenge saga in the coal rich badlands of Dhanbad, between three families, the protagonist Khans, their traditional rivals the Qureshis and local mining big shot-turned politician Ramadhir Singh and family, each with its own set of quirky characters, lustful men and ferocious women. The violence comes at regular intervals and is satisfactorily filled with blood and gore, not to mention humour (especially the scenes where the country made pistols misfire). Anurag Kashyap is not simply trying to tell a story, he is trying to tell a Mahabharata and succeeds, to a great extent.

 The acting is simply outstanding. Manoj Bajpai as Sardar Khan owns the movie. This is by far his best performance, and what a performance it is. Tigmanshu Dhulia is his debut as the ruthless Ramadhir Singh is a fitting adversary to Manoj Bajpai’s Sardar Khan. And it is on the backs of these two men that the story is written. But, this is not to take away from any of the supporting cast. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as Sardar Khan’s son, is the man to look out for in Part II. And the two main female protagonists, Sardar Khan’s wives, played by Richa Chadda and Reema Sena, are absolutely brilliant as the feisty, ruthless women who control everything from the inside.

 And the music. Oh boy, the music. The completely relevant songs that start playing randomly in the middle of a tense situation. With whacked out tracks like O Womaniya and Hunter and the absolute gem that is Teri Kehke Lunga, GoW is definitely the album of the year in my book.

 But what really makes the movie special is the degree of authenticity that Kashyap brings in. The dialogues, the maa-behen gaalis and the little touches like the malfunctioning country made pistols and homemade bombs and Ramadhir Singh’s wife whispering in his ear that she’ll be serving sweets, in the middle of a serious conversation about procurement of guns that Ramadhir Singh is having. The rustic reality that Kashyap brings out, with the state having minimal presence and the writ of local landlords and gangsters runs large, owes a lot to new age Tamil directors like Ameer Sultan, Bala and Sasikumar (who Kashyap himself credits as the Madurai Triumvirate in the beginning of the movie), but taken to a scale larger than what any of those directors had ever envisioned and made to near perfection.

 The movie however, does have its drawbacks. It lags a bit in places for instance. And it is too long and it does require a certain amount of effort to sit through. A little more editing could have helped, but what the hell.

 All in all, this is definitely one of the movies of the year, and is nothing like anything that the Hindi industry has thrown up in the last few years. I am eagerly awaiting the release of Part II, which hopefully ties all the strings together and provides an epic conclusion to the saga and for Anurag Kashyap to start working on the Bombay Velvet trilogy. If this is what he can do with the relatively small coal mafia of Dhabad, just imagine what he can do with Bombay underworld.

 P.S. My favourite scene- The handholding scene between Faizal Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and the girl he is courting, where she says, “Yeh kya hai? Permission leni chahiye. Hum mana nahin kar rahe hain, lekin permission leni chahiya na? Kisike ghar mey gusne ke pehle, permission lete hein ki nahi?”

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