It's always easy to take a simple approach. Going by the same logic, one could always sum up Gangs Of Wasseypur as a revenge saga if the basic plot of the story was to be considered. But Anurag Kashyap makes this film anything but simple! But does it work for the audience? Let's find out.
Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee), a local goon of Dhanbad has a two point agenda in life, kill all Qureshis of the badlands of Wasseypur, a region of Dhanbad district, which shifted from Bengal to Bihar and finally to Jharkhand post-independence and avenge the death of his father Shahid Khan (Jaideep Khan) by the hands of a coal mine owner turned politician Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Aided by his two henchmen Nasir (Piyush Mishra) and Asgar Khan (Jameel Khan), and armed with locally made bombs and guns he terrorizes the bad lands.
Other than his insatiable urge to seek revenge, Sardar Khan has an insatiable urge of intimacy with women. Replete with lust, despite being married to Nagma (Richa Chaddha) and having had three sons with her, he goes onto falling for another woman, Durga (Reema Sen) and marries her too to have yet another son. Nagma's sons Danish and Faizal grow up to join their father's business. Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays Faizal's role juxtaposes the men of Wasseypur by choosing weed over guns, watching movies in cinema halls over seeking his father's revenge.An intriguing character to take off the second part of this epic creation.
Anurag Kashyap's revenge saga is epic in proportions tracing three generations of animosity and he makes no bones about giving it a glorious 5hours for growing on the audience. For somebody to say, especially in Bollywood, that he is inspired by Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, it does reek of boastfulness but Anurag Kashyap unabashedly goes ahead impersonating the likes mentioned before or rather becoming the Indian versions of the two himself!
To say that Gangs Of Wasseypur would be an easy watch would simply be wrong as you cannot dare to even move your eyes from the screen even for a minute, especially during the first half where Anurag establishes setting as well as the character. The film starts off with a long sequence of bullet firing. The sequence is explanatory of the situation of the badlands. The narrative with the help of Piyush Mishra's rustic voice over then takes off into the flashback establishing the sordid gang wars between the Pathans and Qureshis both of whom that loot trains under the name of Sultana Daku. It then goes onto establishing the rise of coal mines during pre and post independence period making way for coal mafias.
Every ten minutes you have a new character thrown in or a new twist in the plot or even a shift to a new era keeping you glued to the screens. But the goriness or the stark grimness of the story doesn't make for a daunting watch as Anurag keeps slipping in high doses of humour. Most of the humours come with Manoj Bajpayee's character. The sequences of him wooing Reema Sen or locally getting his bombs and guns manufactured form the most hilarious parts in the film.
Anurag Kashyap not only flaunts his gargantuan storyline through this 2 hour 48mins first part but also intelligently boasts of his command over narrative technique too. He brilliantly brings together an amalgam intercutting, jump cuts and montages. However, it still wouldn't be wrong to say that had the first half been tad shorted, one would've enjoyed the film without any weariness sinking in.
Other key elements of the film are characterization and performances. While each and every character in the hoard put together by Kashyap and his gang of writers including Syed Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh Jaiswal and Sachin Ladia is well defined, each and every performance also is top notch. It appears more like a competition with almost everyone trying to outshine each other in however big or small their characters are.
Manoj Bajpayee, though, tops the charts as the depraved, amoral, lecherous, merciless and fearless man. His portrayal of Sardar Khan may just be his best performance till date. To match up to him are plenty others in the cast including the likes of Richa Chaddha who brings a perfect blend of the strength and helplessness of a woman in the yesteryears. Reema Sen as perfect as the temptress while the henchmen played by Piyush Mishra and Jameel Khan are brilliant. Nawazuddin makes for a perfect start in the first part and one surely looks forward to his performance in the second.
The music composed by Sneha Khanwalkar is top notch. It's rustic, folk, and rural and suits the film to the T.
The movie ends like a tease making you want more which sadly, to be followed by the second part. And despite its long run time in the first part itself and the cinematic liberties that the filmmaker takes Gangs of Wasseypur part 2 will definitely be a film eagerly awaited! Devour part one in the meantime!