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Anurag and his HiranyaKashyaps
Jul 05, 2012 05:41 PM 5063 Views
(Updated Jul 10, 2012 12:12 PM)





The brilliant coruscating scripts of "Satya" and "Kaun" were among the first to showcase the script-writing prowess of Anurag Kashyap. Moving on to direction, he had the guts and heart to make "Black Friday" ,the release of which was stifled by our useless system. Undaunted,Kashyap soldiered on and went on to display directorial virtuosity in "Dev D". His storytelling hallmarks became clear - hard-hitting shamelessly honest stories given a further cutting edge by stabs of humour and stylish audio-visuals. For his newest venture starring the Wasseypur Mafia, he must have sat down and given special thought about how to make it unique. For starters, among other strong-points, he persuaded Manoj Bajpai- one of the other great artists from the R.G Varma starting-block - to act in "Gangs of Wasseypur". Day after thwarted day, I schemed to see this film despite the fact that it was not releasing in any theatre within 12,000 kilometres of my current home, but by employing the spirit of the film , I, by hook'-n'-crook, managed to eventually watch it.The good news is that Kashyap & Co. are successful in investing truckloads of high-quality innovative hard work into this film. The bad news, I really regret to report, is that a fantastic climax still isn't quite enough to make this film richly merit 5 stars.

At the start,Kashyap thanks Vikramaditya Motwane (director the the top-class 'Udaan'), and also whom he christens as the "Madurai triumvirate'" of Bala,Ameer Sultan and M.Sasikumar .This group ,he thanks, for "inspiring me to get back to my roots". If this film represents his "roots', one shudders to think what the entire tree looks like. Pic kicks off quite saucily with a recording of the opening song of a famously cheesy soap opera produced by Ekta Kapoor. This mush,together with hard walls, are all then blasted with bullets by a marauding gang armed with machine guns. An impressive thunderstorm of gunfire continues. The vendetta and back-stabbing is already underway.

A scruffy voice-over then fills us in on how Wasseypur slowly got integrated into Dhanbad (a district formerly of Bengal,which then shifted into the state of Bihar and later to Jharkand) , and about how the British-owned coal-mines eventually got transferred into the hands of the natives. But while the brutal British at least gave housing to the labourers,the savage sons of the soil add to the woes of the workers. Ramadheer Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia- an excellent scriptwriter-director who previously worked with Kashyap in unique TV serials like "Star Best-sellers") who is a coal-mine owner grows in power by corrupting trade unions, faking high production and murdering any opposition to his autocratic take-over. He eventually becomes a political big-shot in Dhanbad and appoints his ineffectual son as an MLA. The Dhanbad-Wasseypur social climate is shown unadorned- women are wantonly abducted off the streets. and police are bullied and coerced into submission by the gangster-politician nexus.

Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlanwat) is a strong-willed capable man who reckless ambition makes him pay dearly .His son Sardar Khan (embodied in the adult role by Manoj Bajpai) swears revenge against Ramadhir. Sardar is fearless -he doesn't care about diplomacy as far as men are concerned, and he doesn't bother with foreplay in the case of his women. With ebullient audacity he physically attacks the goons who stand in his way, builds a small gang who then carry out guerilla attacks against rival groups. In Dhanbad,his enemy is Ramadhir Singh and in Wasseypur a ferocious man by the name of Sultan (of the Qureishi clan,and nephew of a famous bandit) becomes his foe.

In his personal life, the sex-hungry Sardar is in no mood to spare his tired pregnant wife (played by Richa Chadda as a firebrand who tongue-lashes and even attempts to beat up her philandering husband.) Unfazed, Sardar continues his merry promiscuity be it with prostitutes or with an abandoned Hindu woman (Reema Sen, sensuously restrained and so plumped up that I did not recognize her). Switching from multiple nefarious trades to forcibly claiming ownership of the local lakes and their harvested fish, Sardar meanwhile is relentless in ridiculing and attacking the supremacy of Ramadhir Singh. His two sons- Faisal and Sohail, grow up and fall in love, while getting entangled in the unholy web of "give and take" in which their father is enmeshed. Pushed to the extreme, Ramadhir ultimately joins forces with Sultan in a plan to destroy Sardar and his family.

There is no denying the discreet fact that Kashyap has taken the "The Godfather" as a template for multiple facets of G.o.W's story, but he ensures that the similarities are kept subtle. Even the background score is a smart riff on Nino Rota's famous composition. While the Puzo-Coppola masterpiece arranged a succession of immaculately constructed scenes and built wave upon wave of regally powerful and poignant drama, G.o.W does not possess similarly cohesive force. But it comes very close to being outstanding. A lesser director would have struggled to achieve what Kashyap has accomplished by layering at least a dozen different story-segments that come close to fulfilling his vision. With assiduous flair, dollops of imagination and a sparkling sense of humour (much of which is thoroughly vulgar- the gluteal and anal regions are the butt of repeated jokes ) the director gives this small-town milieu a sprawling modern sense of dynamism and complexity. The opening despite all its booming violence could have been more arresting, but the elite ending amply compensates for this. Clever scene placment (the editor has superbly done all the hard-work) ensures that the end-wallop is preserved while the less gripping epilogue is tucked into the opening salvo.

Comedy involving spurious guns and "fatal" hospitals, the organ-'n'-blood world of butchers some of whom also happen to be hardcore gangsters, naughty colours of fantasizing romance by successive generations and feisty independent-minded women all fit into the busy but smooth matrix which flows through this film. Sardar is honourless when it comes to marital fidelity but his virile sense of humour, aggressive challenges against enemies and loyalty to his own gang ensures that he gets a fair amount of audience "connection". The story of his sons is given good coverage -a traumatic childhood event whose aftermath is expertly sketched, a two-part snazzily filmed Banaras "job",and their fledgling love-lives.

Manoj Bajpai's career-graph may be considered a synechdoche for that of the whole Hindi film industry- phases of greatness interspersed by larger wastelands of unrealized potential.After singularly great performances in 'Kaun','Shool,'Satya', and excellent turns in 'Zubeida' & 'Road', Bajpai's fall-out with R.G Varma cast a shadow over his career.In G.o.W however,he returns to grand form. Whether it is his dare-devil homicidal attack against a larger man in a bylane (cf. Vito Corleone vs Fanucci), smooth cracking of endless dirty jokes, lovingly mollifying his hysterical mistress, coolly insulting his powerful enemy with outrageous cheekiness via a loudspeaker, or revealing a animal-like survival instinct despite being blown out of his wits, Manoj Bajpai ,essaying Sardar Khan, proves that he is the Baadshah not just of Wasseypur but also of the Bombay filmdom.(Review abhi baaki hai -Continued in comments section)


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