Gangs of Wasseypur: A well-documented thriller

It’s rustic. It’s ruthless. It’s unrelenting. It’s indulgent. It’s sinister.

At over two-and-a-half hours of viewing time, the first half of Anurag Kashyap’s two-part movie series – ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ – might be lengthy but it is meticulous in devilishly capturing how the mafia came into being.

It’s blood-soaked, sword-slashing, bullet-pumping, unforgiving heroes and villains are similar in ethos and values, with each displaying the unforgiving, violent characteristics and hunger to play power politics. The only difference being their diverse loyalties.

It is how the economics of power, money, class and religion, incites people to turn into ravenous beasts. It’s decidedly one of the most well-documented crime thrillers that retraces through the colonial period to post-independent India, trying to piece together what could be the beginning of the mafia war in rural Bihar.

Just like its unremorseful characters, director Anurag Kashyap is unapologetic about creating a style of movie-making that’s defiant of the Bollywood standards, and therein lies his brilliance.

The blood feud in the lawless land of Wasseypur spans over three generations of Khans – Shahid (Jaideep Ahlawat), Sardar (Manoj Bajpayee) and Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who ruthlessly attempt to seek revenge from the mighty Qureshis.

Sneha Khanwalker’s music strikes the right chord by being unpoetic. The brashness in her lyrics echoes the vulgarism in the language the ruffians unabashedly voice.

And when there’s no violence to highlight, Anurag even treats us to some rare, fun moments, the most striking being Sardar parading a Mithun-da-lookalike, donning a shiny shirt and coloured shades, to dance his ways to a Bollywood track that challenges the village ruffians from returning a kidnapped woman unharmed.

While the extensive narrative does appear exhaustive, with numerous sub-plots, affairs and battles, it’s Anurag’s impeccable narrative that keeps you hooked till the end.

Mukesh Chhabra’s casting is what essentially makes ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ stand out. Among the performers, it’s Manoj Bajpayee who is undoubtedly the winner, not because he’s got the meatier role, but because he exercises remarkable finesse in portraying the foul-mouthed, lecherous gang lord Sardar the most endearing and, yet, dangerous.

Tigmanshu Dalia as the menacing Ramadhir Singh is faultless. Nawazuddin is outstanding as he shifts from an aviator-sporting, movie-obsessed lover to a dutiful son who obediently inherits his father’s brutal supremacy. Piyush Mishra as the narrator Nasir is pitch-perfect. Richa Chadda as Sardar’s feisty wife Najma and Reemma Sen as his coy mistress, who is unhappy about giving birth to his son, is pitch perfect.

Although we are bound to look for parallels with ‘The Godfather’, mainly because both share the same theme, this one belongs entirely to Anurag, with no reference in texture, treatment or characterisation to any other movie.

Anurag ends the first part in such an incredibly riveting sequence that it’s undeniably the most impactful, and enough to convince us to return to the cinemas for the final instalment.

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