Over the years, Bollywood has become synonymous with over-the top cinema, colorful scenes, and exaggerated story-lines and acting. Thankfully, none of the aforementioned traits, however, describe Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur. The film, which was released in two parts due to its length, has carved its own path in the world of Indian cinema. Both parts of the film have been doing the film festival circuit for a while. Now, Gangs of Wasseypur is finally going to be released here in the US in select cities. I had a chance to watch the film and have shared my thoughts below. If you don’t want to read the whole review, in short, the film is worth at least one viewing since it is not your typical Bollywood film. You really need to sit through Part 1 to fully appreciate Part 2. Part 1 focuses more on character development, so by the time you get to Part 2, you will be an expert on the relationships. Based on the sleek style of film, perhaps, Gangs of Wasseypur, will help bring Indian cinema back on the path on making films with social themes! Undoubtedly, the film has confirmed that Anurag Kashyap is the king of art-house type cinema. Please do real the full review below.
The film deals with a clash between Qureshi dacoit chief Sultan and Shahid Khan, a Pathan who impersonates him in order to rob British trains. Ultimately that leads to the expulsion of Khan from Wasseypur, and ignites a deadly blood feud spanning three generations. This seems like a simple story-line, but that story really is the broadest theme and is at the main surface. There are many more complicated themes underlying the film – lawlessness, corruption and discord, love, politics, religion, and family. It is thanks to the direction, acting, story, music, realistic dialogue, and drama that all these themes successfully see the light of day. This film is all about patience and sticking with the story-line. There is a lot of violence and bad language, so I would not recommend showing it to young kids. However, if you like the crime/thriller/gang genre, this is the film for you.
The most striking thing about Gangs of Wasseypur is the mood and cinematography. Rajeev Ravi has done a very impressive job with his cinematography. The quality of the movie is elevated solely due to the shots and angles he has used. As such, the film’s darker tones and textures really help reflect the crime-ridden world the viewer is to be exposed to. Each frame of the film was perfectly done. Adding to this mood was the flawless soundtrack. In fact, from the first few shots on-wards, it felt like one was watching a Hollywood western film and not a film coming out of India! Kashyap seems to have really carefully studied how Hollywood directors have filmed movies. For example, the style used in Gangs of Wasseypur is similar to like Martin Scorsese, Sergio Leone (a pioneer of spaghetti westerns, most known for the “Dollars Trilogy” of films) and Sam Peckinpah (another great pioneer of westerns). I can safely say that if Hollywood has the Godfather Trilogy (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), Bollywood has Gangs of Wasseypur to boast of! While the latter is not a remake of the former, it deals with a similar theme – a family embroiled in violence.
The actors have also done a fantastic job. There are no major names from Bollywood, and this truly works in favor of the movie. It allows the audience to really feel like the characters are real. There are no larger-than-life personalities of the actors to overshadow the characters. Manoj Bajpai does a great job as Sardar Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui is perfect in the role of Faizal. Huma Qureshi did a great job too, but this film isn’t really about the female characters. It is a male-centric universe and story. Still, these are the performances that stood out.
One thing I didn’t like about the film is that it immediately opens with violence. This made the story-line hard to connect to initially, but you have to stay patient – really really patient! – as the story takes its time to unfold. Part 1 is really about setting up the story-line and etching out the characters. Once it does, however, you truly become involved in the details of it. Part 1 is definitely more violent than Part 2, which has more humorous moments and some pretty funny odes to Bollywood. Another flaw with the film is its length. Yes, it is split over two films, but to really hit the ball out of the park, the film could have benefited from some editing. For example, the violent scenes in the beginning could really have been cut down. Language also could have been toned down.
Overall, the film is skillfully done by Kashyap and his crew. It definitely makes a change from the usual films coming out of Bollywood these days. Be sure to check it out in a city near you!