Gangs Of Wasseypur – Anurag Kashyap is back! With all his indulgences

Posted: June 23, 2012 by moifightclub in cinema, reviews
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Growing up in a small colliery town in Dhanbad district, the first tax that i learnt about was called rangdaari tax. That was much before the “tax and debentures” chapter in school. As a kid it seemed fun. You demand and someone pays you. Also, everything was related and dictated by coal there. The two important trains to Calcutta, the closest metro town, were Coalfield Express and Black Diamond Express. With so much coal dust floating all around, all the trees in our area were black in colour. My aunts and relatives would even compare Dad’s dark complexion with coal mines to tease us when we were kids. (Similar emotions are there in a terrific song in part 2 of Gangs Of Wasseypur). Vishwakarma puja – celebration of God of architecture and engineering was a household thing. Have rarely seen that anywhere. Worshipping your bicycles and scooters!

The area had a local don called D N Singh. That rangdaari tax! And as filmy legends go, the guy was good at heart too. Donating generous amounts for Durga Puja and other local festivities. And had a filmy end too. With the posting of a new police chief, he was attacked and beaten up in the middle of the market on a broad day light and was literally stripped off his power.  Since Dad was posted as Welfare Officer there, we used to hear all kind of stories revolving around miners welfare. And film conversations with Dad or his friends meant someone will surely talk about Amitabh Bachchan starrer Kala Patthar. Everyone used to claim that it was shot in their area and they had seen its shooting. I never bothered to check where exactly it was shot. There is no fun in killing that joy of nostalgia with little bit of knowledge.

But Anurag Kashyap’s two-parter Gangs of Wasseypur is more than just nostalgia for me. Though i was happy that finally we have some new tales beyond the legend of Kala Patthar. We moved out of Dhanbad after Dad’s retirement but am going to call him and tell about a new film from the land of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL).

Gangs Of Wasseypur is quite an ambitious film in every possible way and Kashyap is in top form with his craft. He was never this good! To tame and deliver a beast of this epic proportion is a mammoth task.

I first saw the film when it was in edit. Still don’t have the talent to gauge the final film from its rough cut. Could figure out that individual scenes and humour was working. After that, me and some others have been pestering him to screen the film before he left for Cannes. And unlike others, he scores quite high there. Has no insecurity about showing his films, no matter what you think about it. I hated That Girl In Yellow Boots and wrote about it here.

Then a call at 1am.

Film dekhega? Dikhao. Kab se bol raha hoon.

Abhi dekhega? Abhi? Kahaan?

PVR aa ja. 10 min me. Kya? Haan. aa ja.

It started around 1:30 am and got over by 4:30 am or so. In an empty cinema hall with just 10-12 of us and Manoj Tiwari’s voice blasting in the early morning hours, my morning never started on such a high note. It was pure cinematic orgasm on big screen! Jiya ho bihar ke lala kept on playing in loop in my head.

I saw the film today again. The opening credits still looked the coolest in the B-town! It still felt bit long and indulgent. But as i have often believed and contradicted myself too – if filmmakers and artists don’t indulge, who will? My kiranawala? Finally it all depends on you – what indulgence by which artists you can connect to.

Piyush Mishra’s voiceover still sounds bad. The beginning is too hotchpotch. Too many characters criss-crossing each others paths and confusing at times. Hopefully we will put a family chart soon to have more clarity there.

But what an epic filmmaker’s masterclass is this!

With the terrific talents of Rajeev Ravi and Wasiq Khan, Kashyap has managed to create a whole new world all together. A world where men are beasts but are stripped down to their bare minimum and are eyed and hunted by the womaniyas! I don’t remember seeing a Gang leader in his underwear and eyed by the woman in any film. Or when they need to take permishan to even touch the girl. Playing with gangs and guns but tears roll down when denied permishan. There are many such cinematic kinks, flavours and reasons why this film by Kashyap stands out easily. And like others, he doesn’t even claim to write strong female characters.

The humour is distinct like in any other Kashyap film. I still laugh thinking about that No Smoking scene – tum ja rahe ho? Tum aa rahi ho? Main aa rahi hoon. Main ja raha hoon. Here, a woman in labour pain while delivering the baby gets you a chuckle. Or an impromptu race between two people after a loot, when the older person shouts out hum phirst, hum phirst. I am not going to write about the rest and spoil it for you. You will be left wondering about them because these are people from a different world that we have never seen on our screen.

Now, I guess everyone knows that GoW i’s a revenge saga spanning across few generations in the backdrop of coal mafia. Having seen both the parts, what i can tell you is that the first part takes time to set up as everyone is doomed and is busy sowing the seeds for their ends, either with love or hate. 2nd part is more action, more drama and more revenge. First is like wine, you can’t treat it like junk food. You need time to savour it. There’s no takeaway from it. In the business of guns and groins, coal is just the excuse. Enjoy it till it lasts. Kyunki yahan last me kuch nahi hota hai! Because the beginning is the end. Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi – That’s it! And in that way it’s unlike other desi films we see these days. So even in your viewing, you can’t treat it like any other film – start, beginning and end!

Nothing makes me more cringe that seeing a bad scene on screen. That breakdown scene by Kumud Mishra in TGIYB still haunts me because it’s atrociously bad. In Gangs Of Wasseypur, you can’t point a single scene which is badly acted or directed. The actors, each one of them, from the main lead (Manoj Bajpayee, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Nawazuddin, Richha Chaddha, Jaideep Ahlawat, Piyush Mishra, Jameel Khan, Huma Quereshi, Reema Sen and rest) to the extras, they all make it look so real. They don’t act, they *are* the characters. Once inside their world, you forget the real world that you belong to – that’s a rare achievement. But my favourite is Pankaj Tripathy. He has such a strong presence and am happy that he finally gets his due.

But it would have been better if it was bit shorter, no?

Why only shorter, it should have been just one film. Right.

And if there was no voice-over in the beginning. True.

And would have been better without all that history of Bihar and Jharkhand.

It’s also so self indulgent!

And you don’t emotionally connect with the characters.

May be then it would have been my film and not a film by Anurag Kashyap. Having seen all his film in the last few years, i have made peace with his art and craft. You can’t beat him in craft and in the budget that he delivers, it’s almost impossible. As for his art, it’s not easy to digest. It’s never going to be your regular fare. And i hope it remains that way. Once in a while I like being restless. There’s a thrill in getting out of your comfort zone and figuring out things in the dark – where the wild things are! It’s time you do the same. It will take some time but you will get used to it. If you can afford, why should your cinema be just for escapism? And if you are worried, don’t think because we have enough Imtiaz Alis and Raj Kumar Hiranis to take us back to those comfort zones.

(Update – I hate it when people like a film but forget to mention the writing credits. And i just did the same. So here it is – Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and AK.  This is via wiki, so am not sure about the right credits. Deadly lyrics by Varun Grover and Piyush Mishra & Music – Sneha Khanwalkar. Background –  G V Prakash. And all of them contribute immensely to this experience)

  1. Gyandeep says:

    Brilliant! Last para is killer. Also, 2nd part is more action and drama? *jizz-storm-alert*

  2. Jalebi bai says:

    Nice post. But I don’t get whats the deal is with nearly all the critics calling the first half hour confusing with too many characters too follow. It wasn’t confusing at all. Mishra’s VO made sure to explain and lay down everything nicely.

  3. Nice writeup MFC! For what its worth, I loved Piyush Mishra’s voiceover and the documentarish historical angle. Moreover, I didn’t have any problems with the length as many others did. Brilliant film!

  4. Pankaj says:

    It has a kickass score by GV Prakash making up the mood of the entire film. And I just learnt from wiki that he is just 25. Great career ahead for the young man.

  5. Reading so much about this film and still not being able to watch is deeply and supremely frustrating!! Nice post.

    And I completely agree on the ‘indulgence’ bit.

    Vincent van Gogh said he had put his heart and soul into his work and lost his mind in the process. Artists are known for pursuing their dreams relentlessly and the like minded people chase them with a hope of seeing something magical come out.

    Doing everything ”planned” and ”organized” to make ”business sense” for the ”masses” is a consequence of businessmen taking over the world.

    Anyways, my wishes to AK and his team for the success, reading very nice things hope I get to see the movie soon.

    My fav AK film moment: ”Alvani ke naam se kamra book hai tera, Advani mat bol dena”.

  6. The last para sums it up so nicely about why I am a fanboy for the AK/DB brand of films.

  7. Regarding length of the movie, story demands it to be told that way. If AK had tried cutting scenes or stuffed it in one movie, would have been blunder. Two parts of movie is fine.

    Even after the voice-over of Piyush Mishra so called ‘Movie-Gores’ are finding it difficult to understand the characters come on screen. Just imagine without voice over, Critics, most of the audience would have gone clueless!!

    @Cilemasnob ji aap Bihar me paidha hoke uss jagah ke history jaante honge, magar South India me hamare jaisa kuch un-pad (hishtory ke baare me) ko jaanna padega na saheb.
    ‘Aadukalam’ movie dekhe honge, without the voice over or history of subject ‘Rooster Fight’ looks silly or so small in context of story.

    ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ ki duniya me kisko chahiye ‘Emotional-Connekson’, bhad me gaya!

    Please pass on our request to Mr. Anuraag Kashyap to release the uncut or directcut erosion DVD/Bluray (agar kuch kaat-koota ho toh). Even if it is 10 hour movie on DVD/Bluray, hum ko koi aitraaz nahi:-)

  8. Varun Varghese says:

    They should keep up the hype as the WOM is outstanding….Kahaani did it with Bob Biswas, also Vicky Donor makers did it very nicely..even 2-3 weeks after release…lage rehna hai…zabardast honge collections…and ya brilliant post.

  9. @Rohwit says:

    Q&A with AK. When? Simple question. Jawab simple hona chahiye. Bas.

  10. Bihar ke lala on screen is the best thing that has happened in hindi screen since a long time.Pure orgasm.

  11. John Doe says:

    Great article.It is amusing to see the same guys from twitter ( friends and family) commenting here and creating a buzz for the film. Wishing AK all the best and hope he profits since i really like the new talent he supports and introduces.

  12. Kenny says:

    Am so glad AK’s back in top form! (Me too in the non-fans list of TGIYB)
    Loved everything about Wasseypur. Starting with the opening shot, then the absolutely tashan credits, then the background, then everything else. A true epic. Fully deserves its 5 hour run time.

  13. desipsycho says:

    I saw the film today. Still unable to get it out of my head.Each song,each scene,each character & every minute of the film seemed to be necessary in creating the faadu experience it is.

    Filhaal humari zindagi ka ek hi maksad hai-Part 1 & part 2 back to back bada parde par dekhna. Kab aa raha hai 2nd part ?

  14. Ankur Das says:

    Great post…so finally Francis makes it up to Frank…Flying kiss of a post it is. I also really liked the film and it works so much better on second viewing.

  15. SAdhu says:

    Lack of story telling can be called..Indulgence ? ?

  16. Fatema says:

    I fail to understand how ‘no emotional connect’ becomes a metre to gauge a film’s worth. I’ve heard that argument so many times, most recently in the context of Shanghai. Some films and their characters are not meant as vehicles of emotional connect. The point of their existence is something else, like in Shanghai they pushed the theme and in GoW the experience of the world Kashyap creates. Also, Kashyap is by and large an objective film-maker. Even while investing in emotions his approach is to hold his characters at a distance, which works superbly for him because that’s his style. We’ve got to see a film for what it is rather than what we want it to be.

  17. Dilip R says:

    There were no subs. I didnt get so many jokes at all. Many of them walked out, I think the sole reason was because there was no subs. In the credits they have subtitles by varun grover even though there was no subs.
    Even commercial tamil films release with subs these days outside tamil nadu. And an ANURAG KASHYAP film doesnt have subs.
    In PVR bangalore they didnt play the trailer as well. Wow,

  18. Nupur Jain says:

    I once questioned Anurag on the form of his films, everything else being dead in place…he responded to the question but has since then refused to acknowledge my communication with him:( even though i watch and read every damned detail about his films…sigh…gud to know he takes slamming his films well, didnt work for me though

  19. gold price says:

    The years pass, Ramadhir becomes a powerful politician who controls the district while the wily and philandering Sardar becomes a ganglord and the most feared man of Wasseypur . Staying true to its real life influences, the film explores this revenge saga through the socio-political dynamic in the Wasseypur town of Dhanbad which was a part of north Indian state Bihar earlier but now a part of newly constituted state of Jharkhand. The town of Wasseypur is dominated criminals & gangsters, the dacoits/Bandits/slaughterhouse gags of Pre-Independence India to the post independent mafia ( coal and scrap trade) – politician nexus.

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