Director: Anurag Kashyap
Writers: Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and Anurag Kashyap
Starring: Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Mishra, Richa Chadda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Reemma Sen and Huma Qureshi
Runtime: 156 minutes
TIFF 2012 Programme: City-to-City
Water script-writer Anurag Kashyap returns to festival stage with his greatest directorial project yet: Gangs of Wasseypur. The film first premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews and high acclaim. Then again it would be because Kashyap has gone above and beyond any Indian film to date, really pushing the boundaries with his indie filmmaking style, something Artistic Director Cameron Bailey has spoken very highly about.
Gangs of Wasseypur focuses around a revenge battle between crime families. It all began when Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) becomes a worker at Ramadhir Singh’s colliery after being exiled for impersonating a legendary thief to rob British trains. Part 1 of the film follows the early beginnings, how Shahid came to work for Ramadhir, how the blood-thirsty fued began and the rise of Shahid’s son, Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai), who vows to return his father’s honour and thus becomes the most feared man in the whole of Wasseypur.
Kashyap has brought a very interesting style of filmmaking to Indian cinema. Gangs of Wasseypur breaks boundaries in many ways. There is a “rough and raw” feel to the production. From the very beginning, the audience is pushed into the dark, tense world of Wasseypur. You get this unhinged feeling from the moment the story begins, something you don’t see very often – or at all for that matter – in Indian cinema. Part 1 creates the right emotional impact at the right time, really keeping the audiences pinned at all times. Sexuality is also an element that Kashyap pushes to the boundaries, bringing to the screen a more real picture of mafia activities.
Then of course there is the violence. Violence in Indian cinema can be seen in various movies. Apoorva Lakhia’s Shootout at Lokhandwala was one film that brought great violence onto the big screen but Kashyap has gone even further. He has blended violence with story and emotion. The impact you get watching Kashyap’s film is mind boggling. That rough and raw feel is seen most of all in the violence in the film, that truly captures the mafia mentality. There is a Tarantino feel about the film, especially part 1, where the great details enhance the films effectiveness. Kashyap has not cut corner’s when it comes to portraying the mafia mentality on the big screen.
However, this film would simply not work without the the brilliant cast. Part 1 features an ensemble cast, featuring Manoj Bajpai in the title role of Sardar Khan. Bajpai goes above and beyond in his role, creating a character that not only delivers the brutal image of a mafia leader but also is capable of shifting between emotions and moods to really capture the essence of mafia lifestyle. The chemistry seen between cast members is quite amazing, especially between Bajpai and lead members Tigmanshu Dhulia and Richa Chadda. The concept of relationships is something that is very much the focus of Part 1, and Kashyap is able to provide a different definition of relationship from each character that culminates and results in Part 2 of this film.
This first part definitely delivers what it sets out to do. It can feel a tad long at times but that is simply to set the foundation that not only helps Part 1 but is taken well into Part 2. You are treated with a film that extends Indian filmmaking culture and style, expanding the dimensions of experience. The elements that were once taken conservatively in Indian cinema have now been expanded and “set loose”. Kashyap breaks traditional boundaries to deliver a unique film experience that will keep you pinned from start to finish.
Photo Credit: Toronto International Film Festival