Gangs of Wasseypur: Insanely Briiliant
A real masterpiece if ever there was one in Hindi cinema. There is so much to take in and enjoy, that I feel I must see it one more time before I wrote about it.
But I just chance upon Rangan’s review after coming back from the film, and he has pretty much nailed it. So I will quote the most insightful bit from the review.
” In a pre-titles credit, Kashyap expresses his gratitude to the “Madurai triumvirate” of Bala, Ameer Sultan and M Sasikumar, for inspiring him to get back to his roots, but he just as well could have thanked Cervantes and Dickens. Gangs of Wasseypur is a sprawling, picaresque saga set in and around the mining community in Dhanbad (formerly of Bihar; now belonging to Jharkhand), and its raffish protagonist is a man named Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai). But where films revolving around a hero (or an antihero, a khalnayak) usually become fixated with their every movement to the extent that this hero (or antihero) shows up in every scene, Kashyap tells the story of Sardar Khan through the people around him, the people who came before him, and those who come after him. In other words, the story of Sardar Khan is the story of his father, the story of his wife, the story of his neighbours, the story of his children.
We begin in the years just preceding Independence, where we learn who Sardar Khan’s father was, how he lived, how he died, and how the young Sardar Khan, subsequently, swore to avenge his death. We meet this story’s villain, Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), and we steel ourselves for his showdowns with Sardar Khan, and for him to meet a most well-deserved end. This is how films have trained us. But novels, on the other hand, aren’t as bound to plot and protagonist. They can, on a whim, linger on descriptions of scenery, or on the misfortunes of a secondary character – they aren’t time-bound. There’s no pressure that they wind up in two-and-a-half hours, and that’s the philosophy that informs Gangs of Wasseypur.
On a formal level, this is easily Kashyap’s most fascinating outing (and a gratifying return to form after the underwhelming That Girl In Yellow Boots). The film unfolds as a series of voiceovers, a flurry of dates and names, a cavalcade of memorable scenes – Sardar Khan canvassing for votes as a sidekick channels Mithun Chakraborty from Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki; Yashpal Sharma breaking into a falsetto rendition of Salaam-e-ishq meri jaan (one of the many throwbacks to the Amitabh Bachchan era); a smitten Sardar Khan wooing Durga (Reema Sen) as she washes clothes by a hand pump; Sardar Khan’s elder son being hit by a bullet and later tended to in a hospital in the midst of a power cut; the younger son putting the moves on a girl he likes, as a goat, behind him, nibbles on leaves from a tree, oblivious to the unfolding of all this human drama.
Gangs of Wasseypur is a diffuse epic, content to coast around the revenge plot instead of making it the thrust of its narrative – and what the film loses in terms of dramatic power, it gains in texture. (Besides, do we really want Anurag Kashyap to take on a conventional revenge story?)”