Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious gangster saga is a trippy outburst of vivid characters reeking of revenge, deep-seethed rivalries blended with an off-kilter soundtrack and clever dialogue. Although, self-indulgent in parts the film manages to say a lot in approx 160 minutes of runtime.
Working on a similar template as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972), Gangs of Wasseypur lacks the polished story-telling but in entirety makes for a decent Indianised version of the American epic.
Welcome to Wasseypur; a province of Dhanbad district, which shifted from Bengal to Bihar and finally to Jharkhand post-independence. Starting from 1949, when coal mines represented wealth and power Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat), a ‘pehelwan’ who guards his master’s life, secretly wishes to take his place someday.
Eventually, he’s crushed in the power struggle by his own master Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Khan leaves behind his son Sardar (Manoj Bajpayee) who shaves off his head, vowing not to grow his hair until he exacts revenge for his father’s death.
GOW is grand in terms of scale. Spanning over two generations, Kashyap has successfully managed to add depth to the story and soul to his characters. As if on ecstasy, once the film begins, it refuses to slow down.
The snappy narrative technique works like a double-edged sword. While multiple sub-plots and almost a dozen central characters turn the film into a tangled web, the considerable usage of time lends the characters sufficient space to emerge as real people.
Bajpayee as Sardar Khan gets the most screen time, negative elements and the girls too. Full of lust, he has no morals or sense of right and wrong. Bajpayee exhibits a child-like charm that makes women fall for him. He has two wives, one the feisty Nagma (Richa Chaddha) and another much subdued Bengali girl Durga (Reema Sen).
But he also possesses an intrinsic nastiness that comes across when he’s out there, busy taking revenge. He’s clearly the show stealer of the film. Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays Faizal (Sardar’s younger son) has a brief role.
Yet, the actor shines as the nemesis that initially chooses weed over violence, movies over guns and love over hate but eventually takes the road to vengeance. This film is a perfect introduction to Nawazuddin’s character which is the main protagonist in Gangs of Wasseypur Part – II.
The dialogue and music deserve a special mention. The film is set in North India; so needless to say, cuss words are aplenty. The witty repartee and exceptional comic timing in particular scenes take the movie to another level.
Also, fabulous music by Sneha Khanwalkar and gritty background score by GV Prakash gives the film a retro mood that smartly shifts gears into folk.
In terms of storytelling, GOW is surely entertaining but isn’t fearless. At times it crouches and hides behind unnecessary montages and sub-plots that ultimately leave you a tad bit underwhelmed. The film doesn’t disappoint but it also doesn’t satiate your hunger.
The second part trailer has been attached at the end of the film. You come out of the theatre feeling anxious to know what’s going to transpire in the second part.
Probably, this could have been a three part film. Or maybe, an entire 5 hour 20 minute film, just the way it’s been screened abroad. Maybe, that would be a fulfilling experience, perhaps!
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