A Movie of Pure Brilliance
By Burhan Jafferjee
One day I scoured Netflix for something new and exciting to watch. I came across the title Gangs of Wasseypur, a Hindi gangster movie showing in two parts. Being a fan of the gangster genre and being insanely bored enough to try it out and risking the probability of the typical Bollywood song and dance routine, I pressed play. I was preparing myself for some cringe worthy dialogue, song, dance or masala romance to make my exit but that moment never came. From the brilliant opening scene done in one long take, I was totally engrossed in this story of epic proportions and five and a half hours later (Yes. It’s that long.) I was inspired by what I had just seen.
I wanted to slap myself for my ignorance and arrogance going into watching these two brilliant films. The film takes place in the cities of Wasseypur and Dhanbad in the Northeast of India and centres around three families all vying for control of their territories . This epic story is told over the course of eight decades, starting as early as 1941 to 2012 and spanning three generations of the warring families; the Khans, the Qureshis and the Singhs. Post-colonialism, capitalism, love, lust, greed, power, family, legacy and revenge.
The never ending cycle of hate and violence destroy these characters and their environments. The span of time tells us not only the story of these characters but of India and the nature of humanity itself. The director, Anurag Kashyap (Remember this name people), weaves this story masterfully and uses his amazing cast consisting of Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Tigmanshu Dulia and more to perfection. Nawazuddin Siddiqui. What an actor. Think De Niro, Al Pacino , Day Lewis, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Siddiqui deserves to be mentioned up there with them.
Try taking your eyes off his face when he’s on screen. This movie is alive. The people, the locations, the acting and oh the music. It is true, honest and authentic. The essence of of great filmmaking. Kashyap has made a film that combines the best of Hollywood and Bollywood. A gangster film fan can sense the traces of style borrowed from Scorsese and Coppola and we can see the history of Bollywood classics seeping into the soul of the movie.
The film was supposed to be shown in all its five and half hour glory as one part but as you can imagine had to be separated into two for commercial distribution. Don’t let the runtime scare you! You can’t rush art! You will barely notice the time go by. Anurag Kashyap’s film deserves to be in the gangster film hall of fame and mentioned in the same breath as Coppola’s first two Godfather films . Kashyap has made a film that deserves universal recognition and any aspiring filmmaker from South Asia should consider him a hero.