Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat, Manoj Bajpai, Richa Chadda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jameel Khan, Syed Zeeshan Quadri, Aditya Kumar, Reemma Sen
Imagine this: you’re watching 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thhi' one minute, and the next, you’re dodging bullets, knowing your brains could be splattered. It’s a milieu most of the audience of Anurag Kashyap’s slick, stylish and sordid flick are not familiar with. It’s a brand of lawlessness that even the glorified gangster of 1940s Hollywood didn’t get to revel in.
Welcome to Dhanbad, the town that spawns the gangs of Wasseypur. In a chillingly casual narration by Nasir Ahmed (Piyush Mishra), we hear the gruesome tale of family feuds that turn into political camps and ultimately, gang wars.
Spanning 60 years and three generations, this film is punctuated as much by gunfire as by expletives. It begins with the exploits of Sultana Daku, a notorious bandit who robbed goods from the trains of British India in 1940. The authorities say he has been sent off to Andaman, but the public knows better. Things turn ugly when Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) impersonates him, and Sharif Qureshi claims Khan is treading on Qureshi’s territory.
An agreement is reached, Khan is banished and a tragic event leads to his elevation to chief muscleman for mine supervisor Ramadhir (Tigmanshu Dhulia). And this is where Kashyap slips in the undertones. What does power do to a man who considers himself a leader of men? What does it take for a sardar, a captain, to turn bully?
In a brutal landscape, where a threat is neutralised in the most macabre of ways, boys are men. And nothing is taken for granted. A film that could do easily have been grisly acquires the texture of a riotous romp, thanks to some inspired sound design, intelligent casting and burlesque narrative.
One of the most interesting aspects of 'Gangs of Wasseypur' is that each scion of the Khan family gets consistently smaller and somehow, scarier.
This film belongs almost entirely to Manoj Bajpayee, who sews himself into the skin of Sardar.
'Gangs of Wasseypur' is a layered film and the viewer sees what he or she wants to see – the weakness of man, the hypocrisy of politics, the Damocles sword that rapid industrialisation can be, the aspirational draw of the English language and several other issues lend themselves to subtext. But more than anything else, it’s a larger-than-life experience, a display of cinematic license meant for the big screen.