Friday, August 10, 2012

Keh ke leli… Dubara.

Cinema at times can elicits extreme reactions and emotions. Avinash Verma, a self confessed passionate film-buff writes after watching experiencing his favorite filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's latest offering Gangs of Wasseypur Part-II..

Warning – The following is not a review nor a critique of the film. It’s a regurgitation of all of my thoughts after watching the second part of Gangs of Wasseypur. It might not make any sense to you, you have been warned. Also, if you haven’t seen the film then ‘WTF is wrong with you!!!’. Stop reading right now and go watch it.

Disclaimer – I am no authority on cinema. I am just a fanboy who have watched probably one too many films. Any hint at high handedness in the writing is entirely unintentional.

source: artist: Ojasvi Mohanty
It’s 1 o clock. I have just reached my flat after watching Gangs of Wasseypuy-2. I am extremely happy. I know I will not be able to sleep because I am too excited. I want to scream my lungs out, I want the world to know that I have just witnessed something that is going to redefine cinema in this country. Something that is going to inspire hordes of young aspiring filmmakers across the country for years to come. Something that is going to reassert people’s faith in the power of ‘mainstream’ cinema. Something that is going to be shown/taught someday in film schools. And something that is going to be quoted some day with the likes of Pulp fiction, City of God, Godfather, and many more cult films from across the globe. A film whose dialogues will enrich the pop culture references of not only this but the coming generations of this country.

One of the people in my gang with whom I saw the film, while exiting the theatre said, ‘Yaar, 10 min ki story thi, uske liye 2.5 ghante barbaad kar diye.”  A part of me wanted to smash his head against the Ek tha tiger poster stuck on the wall of the alley, but another part of me, who was in a state of extreme blissfulness reasoned it out with me and I moved on smiling.

That guy, to me, is the impersonation of today’s average cine-goer. Yes, ‘average’, and that’s what he always will be. An average cine-goer. He will never be able to rise above his averageness to see or understand that he didn’t just see a film but a masterpiece. 160 minutes of pure, raw, uninhibited, unadulterated, totally indulgent cinema made with great impunity that nobody in the county of 120 billion had the balls to make but Anurag Kashyap.

This guy will remain ‘average’ because week after week, month after month, he will be forced to see Cocktail/Jism/Jannat/Kya superfool hai hum/Dhamal-golmal-bol bacchan/Student of the year/Joker/old-film’s-remakes because well, everyone in the film industry is making films for him. Everyone cares for him. Everyone wants to give him what he wants. Everyone is too busy making him happy. This industry is a giant McDonalds which is busy serving this 12 year old kid all the burgers and fries and cokes that he wants while giving not a flying fuck about the side effects of Junk food as long as they are reaping profits.

Anurag Kashyap is different. He wanted to make cinema, not for the audience but for himself. His film is full of nods to the classics like Godfather and City of God and Gangs of New York and Tarantino films. He wanted to make a film that he could proudly show to the world saying – “Dekho, India me bhi aisi film ban sakti hai”. He didn’t do it for the average cine-goer. He did it for himself and that is why it’s a great service to the average cine-goer. Everywhere in the world, cinema has benefitted from the whims of a few like Innaritu, Keislowski, Speilberg, Nolan, Scorcese, Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Aronofonsky, James Cameron and many more. Kashyap, with this film, has proudly joined this league of the extraordinary auteurs.

This guy had started his career with a film called Panch, which never got a theatrical release because it was deemed too violent for the country in 2003 by the Censor Board. After 9 years he made a film 500 times more violent and still able to get a theatrical release. Not only that, he took it to Cannes under the ‘Director’s fortnight’ category (the first ever for any Indian film) and received a standing ovation from the audience who didn’t understand the language, knew nothing about the socio-political dynamics of this part of the world and yet were forced to stand up and clap for this man after watching it continuously for 5 hours and 20 minutes without an interval. I don’t know if it’s the country or the censor board members who matured in the last 9 years.

I guess it’s the country because when a close up shot, of a gaunt figure of average height wearing fake aviators smoking chillum while his already sunken cheeks recessed deeper inside the cavity between his cheekbone and jaw, can make people whistle and hoot in the theatre, you know you are watching the film with the right people.

This skinny man with droopy blood filled eyes and black cracked lips who was unknown to most of this nation until Kahaani happened is Nawajuddin Siddiqui (Now everyone knows his name and everyone is a fan, but how many of you noticed him doing a stellar job at taking a beating from KK Menon in Black Friday or as the rat in Pan Singh Tomar ). Very few know that he won the Best Actor award this year at the New York Film festival for his role in “Dekh Indian Circus’ and was consequently invited to lunch with the great Roger Ebert, one the most respected reviewers all over the world. If you go and watch any of his interviews you would see that he is a very humble man who doesn’t know how to talk in English, a gaavthi (as the elite Mumbai wallahs would call him, see him at his humble best: who knows just one thing – How to ACT. This guy stole the thunder from every single person present on screen with him in every single frame. This is his Godfather. He is the Michael Corleone of Wasseypur. The son of Sardar khan, the Don Carleone of Wasseypur and brother of Danish Khan, the hot-headed Sonny Corleone of his family. This is to him what Joker was to Heath Ledger, what Travis Bickle was to De Niro, what Tyler Durden was to Brad Pitt, what ‘The Dude’ was to the Jeff Bridges, what Langda Tyagi was to Saif and what ‘Vijay’ was to Amitabh Bacchan. A role that would immortalize him. A role that would make people sit up and take notice of him. A role that would earn him a few awards (hopefully), a lot of recognition and probably a humongous pair of balls to stand up with his head held high with the likes of the khans of this industry. Salman only said ki ‘Itne chhed karenge ki kanfus ho jaoge ki …..” but he actually did it, and with what panache!! This was his ‘Bitch Please’ moment. The smile/bliss/satisfaction on his face while shooting Ramadhir Singh with the remix of ‘Teri Keh ke lunga’ playing in the background is an expression that is going to haunt me for days to come. The ‘madarchod’ shouted by him after the shootout is going to keep giving me goosebumps every single time I see that scene. The way he expressed his carnal desires to Huma Quereshi (which is inspired by one of his real life incidents) would make me giggle every time I think about it. The way he slapped Definite and went onto a shooting spree in the hospital would keep making me wonder how could a man weighing all of 53 Kgs look so convincing doing all this high octane macho terminator shit?

They say that every actor is born to play one role that nobody else could play but him. For him, Faizal was it. When you cannot imagine any other guy playing the character, you know that actor has passed the litmus test. The confidence with which he delivers the lines - ‘tere ko yaad kar karke haath dukh gaye  mere”, was so believable that you forgot that it’s the same guy who started crying after being chided for not taking permissan before touching the same lady’s hand. The transformation was so smooth and effortless. That IS called acting!

Gore and violence has never been so poetic on screen before in India. It has never been so enthralling, so exotic, so satisfying. The sudden spurt of blood gushing out of an artery/vein cut by a single ‘perpendicular’ flick of a blade had never been shot with such precision before. The thick red viscous liquid has never looked more beautiful oozing out of a beige kurta. Teri Meharbaaniya have never made people chuckle like this before. Women actors have rarely graced such empowered characters since the times of Smita Patil and Shabana Aazmi. Plotting a murder has never been so delightfully amusing/bemusing/confusing at the same time. The bombs have never been thrown so casually around, guns never jammed so unexpectedly and nobody EVER stopped to refill the fuel tank while being chased by someone with a murderous rage. THAT particular chase sequence is hands down the best ever filmed in this country with the weirdest (in a good way) possible background music surpassing the previous one from Black Friday by the same man. Vendetta has never been so charming. Characters have never been named so inventively (except a few Circuits and Chaturs) and cinema has never been paid such an honest and heartwarming ode to before. And when a song (Kaala Rey) could make you regret the skin of your color, you know that the lyricist (Varun Grover), Music director/Singer (Sneha Khanwalkar) have done a job which is beyond words to appreciate.

Every frame is not only filled with characters and backgrounds and tiny little details (the paperback edition of ‘Jaal’ by Ved Prakash Sharama (Or was it Surendra Mohan Pathak) being read by Huma during Kaala Rey is AK’s salute to the pulp fiction of the rural India which ruled youngster’s reading lists before Chetan Bhagat happened.) but with an uncanny confidence, every actor is totally into the skin of his/her character and the dialect/accent/diction is pitch perfect. You could actually see how much they must have enjoyed making this film. Anurag, along with his cast and crew, have shown a giant Middle Finger to the entire film fraternity of this country who is busy churning out mediocre stinking half baked shit in the name of films. It’s an extraordinary, totally over-the-top ride made by a bunch of crazy people who believed that they would find enough crazy people to appreciate it. I am one of those crazy people. If you are one of those people who waited in anticipation for Yashpal Sharma to appear on screen with a mic in his hand only by listening to the “Dam pam pam, dam pam pam dam pam pam …. 1 2 ka 4, 4 2 ka 1”, then I am glad that you are not the 12 year old kid being served by the McD.

A film should have the power to transport you to a different world. It should have the power to grab you by your collar, slap you out of your slumberous posture and take you right along with the characters on the screen. You should not only see what is happening on screen but wish to be a part of all that. It should incite the wistful thinking in you to meet those characters on screen, see their lives up close and personal and sometimes even be one of them. This film is one of those few made in this country who did all that to me. This film left me gasping for more. This film left me in super awe of the people who made it. Go watch this magnum opus, this epic revenge saga, make it a hit and stop cribbing about good films not being made in this country, forever.

-Avinash Verma


  1. Well written as always.. i may add i loved the movie and and after two days when have digested it finally, i realized this might be one of the landmark movies

  2. And when a review is written with such passion, we can say that film has reached it's correct audience.

  3. 'Behtareen' as you would say, now, most of us will say !

  4. Brilliant piece!!The film and the review.

  5. Avinash - awesome writing man !

  6. First of all, its 'Nawazuddin' and not 'Nawajuddin' (I guess you went with the flow of 'Faijal' and not 'Faizal' :P).... Nice write up... Well you forgot about the writer Zeishan Qadri, and the new characters 'shamshaad' and more..... By the way, it was not just One Man Show like you mentioned about Nawaz... if other characters wouldnt have been there the movie wouldnt have been so interesting as such!!! Hats off to Anurag Kashyap, but you must not forget the Chief Assistant Director Sohil Shah who died while performing one of the shot scene in an accident. Hats off to Sneha and Varun...

    Will be watching it once again anyways just to see how he might have made the film :)

  7. Verma Saab, kya baat hai... kya likhe ho aap... but yes the movie is a landmark in many ways... the story telling, music overlay background score, details and the size of the cast... but jo aap likhe ho verma ji, Kasam Se Respect!!!(Bashi rBhai Style) ;-)

  8. Awesome writing Avinash......!!!
    I know the same must have happened to you after watching the film that happened to me....You close ur eyes and you could hear "Baap ka ..dada ka....Bhai ka...sabka badla lega tera FAIJAL" till the morning...

    The power of cinema .....aur waise bhi " jab tak iss duniya mein cinema hai log...chu*** bante rahenge...".....I loved Ramadhir Singh telling his son "tumse na ho paega beta"...

    Great movie...First day Checked..:)

  9. Abhishek ShandilyaAugust 13, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Verma Ji, Sometimes you hit the right chords, and this write-up, is one sweet symphony!

  10. I can totally imagine u actually saying this with ur hand gestures and glitter in the eyes! Awesome write up!