Gangs Of Wasseypur (Part I)

Gangs of Wasseypur Part I

Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Richa Chaddha, Reema Sen, Piyush Mishra, Jameel Khan, Pankaj Tripathi, Vineet Singh, Nawazudin Siddique, Humra Quraishi, Anurita Jha, Jaideep Ahlwat

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Indian Express Ratings:****

'Gangs Of Wasseypur' is a sprawling, exuberant, ferociously ambitious piece of film making, which hits most of its marks. It reunites Anurag Kashyap with exactly the kind of style he is most comfortable with : hyper masculine, hyper real, going for the jugular. It's not so much about gangs, as about men who are pushed into 'gangstergiri' as a thing to live by ; as you go along, you see that Wasseypur is not just a place, but a state of mind, which roars and strikes after each deceptively quiet patch. I liked most of 'Gangs', Part One, enormously.

This is a tale with a long arc. From 1941, to the present day (it breaks off in the middle; the rest of it will come to theatres next month, in the second part). It tells us how coal ('koyla', much more poetic) was one of the country's precious natural resources which was captured for the betterment of few : first by the British overlords, and then by the local mafia, which hijacked the 'khadaans' (mines) and monstrous gains and became the resident fat cats. In the first flush of 'azaadi', those who thought their lives were going to get better were proved miserably wrong. Those who toiled and laboured became poorer, those who lorded over the worker drones with swords, and lathis and brute force, flourished. There's history here, of the kind almost never attempted by Hindi cinema, bouyed beautifully by geography : the locations are part of the pleasures of the film.

It is in a setting like this that Wasseypur introduces us to its passel of characters, and the two men whose enmity will decide the fate of their families and foes. It's all very `Godfather' like, in its vowing of vengeance, and settling of scores, also reminding you of movies featuring the American wild west where lawlessness was rampant, and the law was decidedly an ass. Sardar Khan (Bajpai) has fixed his beady eye on Ramadhir Singh (Dhulia), for the latter was responsible for his, Sardar's, father's death. The story keeps circling back to this core, providing us with the kind of authentic local colour that is hard to find in manufactured Bollywood. The language is earthy, robust, filled with profanities (even the women swear fluently). There's a particular invocation of a maternal private part and the violence to be wrecked upon it that immediately fixes the place and the people : you will never hear the phrase in any other place other than in some parts of UP and Bihar. The dialogue of 'Wasseypur' is one of the high points of the film : I was watching out for faux rusticity, given Bollywood's penchant to slip into this lingo and massacre it, but there are very few slips, and miniscule at that.

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