Welcome to Anurag Kashyap's epic gangster saga, colossal in format ....
The Battle of the Khan's vs. the Singh's
- The Battle of Wasseypur vs. Dhanbad -
5 hours of cruelties and intense
hatred with killings and vendetta executions, constant betrayals and
making of alliances - Let the bloodshed begin!
Anurag Kashyap, probably my favourite Indian film director,
an important force behind the Bollywood New Wave type of
filmmaking and with indie classics as Black Friday, Dev. D, Gulaal and
Ugly on his CV, with this film tried something else.
A combined indie with mainstream type of Bollywood speciality - The
Gangster movie, and an epic such clocking in at some
5 hours and 20 minutes and presented on 2 dvd discs.
The question is if Anurag Kashyap, the creative volcano in Indian film,
has bitten off more than he could chew here? Could he
back up this massive playtime with relevant material or should he've
used the scissors in editing ? Has Kashyap left his indie
type of filmmaking for mainstream big budget projects? Yes, i would
like to answer these questions, and even though Kashyap
and Bollywood film are totally neglected and ignored here in Sweden,
the Hollywoodified country described as the 51st state
of the USA and with a government eager to join in all of the warhawks
war-mongering around the world, it's important to me
as i'm a big fan of Kashyap and Bollywood film.
As i already mentioned, Anurag Kashyap is my favourite
Indian film director along with the Tamil master Mani Ratnam, the
man behind trio Roja, Bombay and Dil Se. Kashyap is also behind an impressive
trio with Black Friday, Dev. D and Gulaal,
and the latter one here Gulaal is my favourite Anurag film ... yet,
a hypnotic crime-drama made under chaotic circumstances
and who took a lot of years to finish. Gulaal should've
created a world wide sensation, but it didn't and it remains a cult
movie with devoted fans and i place it in my OMG category of films,
the A grade section with other personal favourites of
mine, as Takashi Miike's Audition (renowned), Park Chan-wook's Old Boy
(renowned), Jang Jun-hwan's Save the Green
Planet (quite renowned) and Aleksei Balabanov's Gruz 200 (obscure).
Gulaal are probably the most obscure of these films
and we were only a few that levitated over it's brilliance when it was
finally released and the indian film critics ignored it.
So .... when indian film critics now praise Gangs of
Wasseypur, should that worry us? Is this a bad sign? Has Anurag Kashyap
started to suck trying to please a mainstream audience? The answer is
luckily a NO as this epic gangster saga is a mix of
indie filmmaking and mainstream. It's made on a low budget (as AK says
in the Making of) but looks like it was made on a
big budget with great photo, music and with a bunch of great actors.
The film isn't experimental in any way but has some of
AK's unique style to it and with some scenes, especially towards the
end, reaching pure brilliance - the attack on the Khan
house, the Definite chase sequence and the ending bloodbath shoot-out.
DVD disc 1 meny with Tigmanshu Dhulia, Reema Sen and Manoy Baypayee
This film is supposedly based on true events and takes
place in the quite big city of Dhanbad and in the smaller
town, the city of coal industry, Wasseypur, nowadays
situated in the Indian north-eastern state of Jharkand (ex-Bihar).
The film depicts the Vendetta type feud between the gangster families
the Khan's and the Singh's and it's played out over a
period of nearly 70 years, from 1941 to the epilogue in 2009.
The film's narrator and some sort of equivalent to the Greek Chorus
in ancient drama is Piyush Mishra and who also plays
the smaller role of Uncle Nasir, living with the Khan family all through
the film. He's also a singer on the soundtrack.
He, the narrator/Kashyap gives us a portrait of India through the development
in the City of Coal, Wasseypur, the well
known story of gangsterism, mob families and corruption of police and
Yes, we've seen this many times before in Bollywood film as it's one
of the most common and ever so popular themes.
But if you compare Gangs of Wasseypur to e.g. another master of crime,
Ram Gopal Varma and his equally bloody and
4 hours long gangster saga Rakht Charitra, a more Masala type of film,
then GOW has an objective tone. In GOW there
are no heroes, and i mean NO, because basically everyone
are ruthless killers, slime, and even the women are rotten to
the core. Like animals they only care about their own off-spring and
a human life means nothing. That's the way they are.
Richa Chadda's Nagma and Manoy Baypayee's Sardar
Khan in part one
OK, there isn't one likeable person in the whole film,
not one that isn't a hereditary gangster sociopath or psychopath,
woman or man, with the possible exception of poor Shama Parveen (Anurita
Jha) a victim of the feud, and Nasir.
There are copious amounts of killings and blood-letting and some elegant
set-piece type of shoot-outs and the film
could be seen as an elegant pastiche of the indian gangster
movie genre. And as such a one it works great on
a superficial plane, but you really don't care too much about any of
these violent people, and AK didn't meant us to.
Not as Nawazuddin Siddiqi's genuinely gripping performance as a gangster
in crime-drama Badlapur (read about this
film on my Bollywood page 2).
Did it have to be 320 minutes long then? Well, if Anurag had edited
it down to a third of it's length and just kept the
stylish scenes then we would've another .... Gulaal, and that film he's
already made. This time he obviously wanted to
make a looong epic gangster saga just like his friend and mentor Ram
Gopal Varma, and let us be thankful for that.
The film starts with a 2004 prologue where the Sultan
gang attacks the Khan's house in Wasseypur (and after 4 hours
and 20 minutes we're back to this assault). Then the film shifts to
1941 and a time when India were under British rule
and when thieves stole coal from the British trains. The Brits left
and the coal mines was taken over by local heavies,
politicians combined gangsters, and this film 60 year long Vendetta
starts when the Dhanbad boss Ramadir Singh
(played nicely by film director Tigmanshu Dhulia) kill one of his underlings
and enforcers, Shahid Khan.
Shahid's son Sardar Khan (played by the charismatic
Manoy Baypayee, always delightfully quirky and something
of a James Woods of Bollywood, as he's always great in any film he's
ever appeared in) grows up to a feared killer
and gangster boss and he's the first of the Khan's determined to revenge
his father's death. Sardar's death ends part 1
The Great Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Faizal and Zeishan
Qadri as Definite in part two
In part 2 his son's Danish (Vineet Singh), Faizal (Nawaz)
and Definite (Qadri) continue with the revenge making
and the bloodbath that ends the film was an impressive set-piece.
The first part can be seen as a build-up to the explosion in the second
part. The main figure in part 1 is Sardar
and in part 2 Faizal, but (my thoughts that is) the power performance
in Part 1 comes from Richa Chadda as
Nagma, and the whole of Part 2 belongs to Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the
But all the actors are doing great and with, obviously, fine personal
direction from Anurag Kashyap.
The Females - the oh so talented Richa Chadda in the
roles as Nagma, the first wife of Sardar, bengali Reema Sen
as Durga, the 2nd wife of Sardar, Huma Qureshi as Mohsina,
the wife of Faizal and Anurita Jha as Shama Parveen,
the wife and then widow of Danish. Richa Chadda rules, but looks much
too young to be the mother of Danish and
Faizal, Mohsina even jokes about it, that Faizal looks older than his
mother. Old lady make-up obviously isn't quite
mastered yet in Bollywood
The Males: Manoy Baypayee is good as
always, but/and unlikeable as the bestial psychopath killer Sardar.
Tigmanshu Dhulia, the director, impresses much in the
role as the slightly melancholic boss Ramadhir Singh, and the
scene where he explains to Faizal why he's killed his father, grandfather
and his brother is memorable, "i killed them
so i could live" - a lesson in practical gangster politics that
brutal rulers have followed all through history of Man.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the hashish smoking Faizal,
with tired drug-induced red-rimmed eyes and aged in advance
has the heaviest part of the film and he's sensational as suits one
of the greatest actors in Indian film.
Pankaj Tripathi as the Khan's other arch-enemy (besides Ramadhir Singh)
Sultan and Zeishan Qadri as Definite are
both very good too. Piyush Mishra also has a great precense as the films
narrator Uncle Nasir
Aaah, doesn't he look happy? The Sweet taste of
My favourite scenes? There are the 2 set-pieces that
stand out naturally but also all scenes with Richa Chadda in them.
1. The whole of the Sultan attack on the home of the Khans. A very elaborately
made shoot-out sequence where a
wounded and confused Faizal is wandering around on a house-roof to the
sound of distant shooting and explosions.
Chaos and brilliant, a scene where Mr. Kashyap swing his magic wand,
thank you you Great man.
2. The ending bloodbath and where the word "Overkill" might
be suitable. Highly memorable.
My least favourite scene and something that could've
been edited out, the unfortunately Tarantino-esque fruit scene
before the Sultan killing, it just don't suite in with the rest of the
films style. Hopefully Kashyap hasn't been negatively
inspired by the ramblings compairing him to hipster filmmaker Tarantino,
Yuck. There's absolutely no reason for AK
to lowering himself to the infantile levels of that hacksters films.
I do hope that Anurag Kashyap will continue making films his own style
and renew the Bollywood way of filmmaking
without the assimilating of styles from inferior western filmmakers
and without looking to what the Indian asshole film
critics have to say. Just continue making YOUR films without any concern
about if there's an audience or not.
I watched the Eagle 3 disc edition of this film and
it was presented in anamorphic widescreen (not in 4:3 as said on the
sleeve) and with a 5.1 hindi audio with english subtitles. No annoying
logos was seen on the screen.
On disc 3 there was a Making Of documentary playing 1 hour and 35 minutes
without english subs, but as usual, with
a lot spoken in hinglish (hindi and english) and Anurag Kashyap speaks