Movie Review: GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (2012) – An Epic Crime Drama Spanning Generations
I’m constantly in awe of how amazingly progressive the Indian Film Industry has been getting in recent years. Growth is happening in leaps and bounds and GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is a prime example of such advancements.
Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
A 2-part story, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is more or less an anthology of a family of small time thugs to huge players in organized crime, showcased through the generations. It’s an epic journey about the ambitions of fathers, sons and bastards, coupled with vengeance that’s inherited through bloodlines.
Directed by the visionary Anurag Kashyap, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is engaging as it never lets up and shows us this perpetual need for revenge, along with throwing in some awesome moments of the history of India as a nation. The narration is top notch and something quite unseen in Indian cinema so far.
…WASSEYPUR is about 1 man during pre-independent India, who was exiled from his own village, for impersonating a person of high regard in those times. In those days it was families and lineage that determined respect, so the man was asked to leave town. Eventually the man’s ambition in another town gained him enemies, and his eventual death. His young son vowed forever to avenge his father death. Thus started a domino effect through the generations of bloodletting and death, which is brilliantly executed in these two volumes.
Manoj Bajpayee is the avenging son, Sardar. Through his badassery, he becomes a big time gangster and a force to be reckoned with. Over time his need for revenge dims and he becomes more concerned with living out a peaceful life. His sons grown and taking over the business, he decides for peace and a change of career. However, the 1st act of the 1st part set into motion events that would haunt their entire family line, and have ‘peace’ become a foreign concept.
GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is epic in terms of the scope, the world building, the characters and the web that is spun through all of them of for the 4+ hours of screen time. Anurag Kashyap is a badass when it comes to direction and writing, to be able to tell such a tale and keep even a 17-year-old girly girl engaged in a story about the rural gangs of India. (I saw the movie with my sister.)
There’s not much I can say about …WASSEYPUR that will do justice to what is on screen, however it’s a brilliant stroke of genius! The narration is completely innovative and unique. How the story unfolds through out the years, using real life Indian history, as a backdrop to the events in the story is a testament to the writers’ skill and layering.
As much as GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is a fictional story, the real life events, which inspired it, are further blended into the story as the narrative follows almost a documentary style retelling of events. At times, even the camera work, which is hand held and cerebral, adds that much more depth and in-story presence as possible in such stories.
The plethora of characters—memorable characters—is another masterful stroke for …WASSEYPUR. In a story spanning decades and 20+ important characters, the story and execution handles them with such ease and impact, that despite being two films long, the audience doesn’t forget who is who or why they’re important.
This is further underlined by almost every single performance in both these films. The smallest character to the larger than life characters of Bajpayee, and subsequently his son, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, cause such impact through their performances that one can’t help but be in awe. A massive supporting cast that’s amazing in their respective roles and parts is another mastery of a Director able to handle and extract such performances from so many character and stage actors. Not to mention the actors’ own inherent abilities to grow such fine fine Moustaches.
GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is a very niche film about rural characters in a corner of India throughout India’s birth. However the storytelling applied to executing the film is universal and can be appreciated by anyone. This is truly a masterpiece of filmmaking and story telling in general. If the term ‘epic’ could be applied to any film out of the entire Indian Industry… GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is surely one of them!