The ApunKaChoice movie review of Gangs Of Wasseypur. Keh Ke Lunga. Don’t complain that you weren’t warned. Anurag Kashyap, the unabashed trasher of every stereotype that Hindi films thrive on, and the agent provocateur in the tribe of mainstream mockers, seems to rattle out this pithy warning to the audience of his overwrought, self-indulgent, but utterly entertaining piece of slam-bang cinema, Gangs of Wasseypur. It’s a film made with no-holds-barred, no-punches-pulled audacity, with smugness that skill and confidence breed. It’s a film that, though convoluted and circuitous, boasts of many fine sequences and wicked humour to make you kowtow to Kashyap, but not without a cautious eye on your backside.
Gangs of Wasseypur demands total surrender and undivided attention. So ignore the sweet nothings of your girlfriend or boyfriend, cast that cola and nachos aside, and take a plunge into the blood splattered world of Wasseypur, a lawless land riven by the feud between the butcherly Qureshis and the rest of the oppressed populace, out of which a stray rebel Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) sows the seed of a protracted rivalry in the 1940s’ British India, a rivalry that blooms into a full-blown gangwar in 1960s, 80s, and to the present day.
The film opens rather amusingly, with sentimental claptrap by Smriti Irani’s character from Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi… cut short by raging gunfire by a bunch of rowdy louts out to wipe out a family. Then Anurag Kashyap trots out some gyan on the history of the powerful Qureshi tribe in Wasseypur that was once a part of Bengal, then passed to Bihar and finally to Jharkhand.
Shahid Khan, a pathan, takes on the might of the Qureshis in 1940s and goes on to become, from a dacoit, the trusted pehelwan of the coal-mine owner Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) in nearby Dhanbad. Since Shahid himself has an ulterior motive, he’s bumped off by his employer while his son grows up to be Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) who’s vowed to avenge his father’s murder.
Driven by his vengeance and overactive hormones, Sardar builds his own ragtag gang against Ramadhir, but also sires two kids from his wife Nagma (Richa Chadda) and one from his mistress Durga ‘Bangalan’ (Reemma Sen).
The gang war sputters to life in the 60s and 70s when kattas, or country-made pistols, were weapons to reckon with -- despite them blowing off in the shooter’s hand -- and homemade bombs, with nails and lots of sulphur, caused damage enough to send the enemies scooting for cover. Our protagonist uses this to his advantage, but his foes aren’t slow to catch up.
There is much violence and gore in Gangs of Wasseypur. People are butchered and minced into pieces, just like buffaloes at a local slaughterhouse. Guns and bombs make the killing business a tad bit cleaner and quicker. Amid this bloodbath, there are tender moments as well, as you see Bajpai’s lusty Sardar woo Reemma’s tongue-tied ‘Bangalan’. My favourite moment is a daydream sequence between Nawazuddin Siddique and Huma Qureshi, as they get moony-eyed behind Ray Ban aviators as the popular song ‘Salaam-e-Ishq’ from Amitabh Bachchan’s Muqaddar Ka Sikandar blares out in the backdrop.
Playing Sardar’s broody son, a pothead, and a reluctant heir to the family’s legacy of crime, Nawazuddin holds out the promise of a stellar performance in Gangs Of Wasseypur 2. This part, unequivocally, belongs to Manoj Bajpai. In a snap he turns from an intense marauder to a sheepish husband fearing his wife’s wrath, from a toughened rogue to a libidinous lecher. Other notable performances come from Richa Chadda, Piyush Mishra (as Sardar’s trusted hand) and Pankaj Tripathi (he plays the murderous Sultan Khan, the Qureshi kingpin).
Gangs of Wasseypur is incredibly well shot, has terrific music score (by Sneha Khanwalkar) and littered with humour and cuss words from start to end. The film does get overwrought with its slew of characters, history of trade unions, PSUs, coal mafia, dacoits and local rogues and politicos. What redeems the film is the master strokes by Kashyap -- coming at regular intervals -- in the form of brilliantly executed sequences, and finely extracted performances. Though violent and overlong, the film is a fairly enjoyable watch, and makes you look forward to the sequel.