Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur 2
Ramadheer Singh, much older from the film’s first part now, though still only an MLA should be glad he’s not dead yet, despite everything he’s done so far. He killed his chief henchman Shahid Khan when he was young. He killed Shahid’s son, the dreaded don Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee). He also finished off Sardar’s eldest son later. Why do you think I still survived, he asks his group of minions. They nod. He answers, “Because I don’t watch films.” There is a picture going on in everybody’s minds in these parts, he says. Distorted from reality, the young learn from the impulsive heroes of their movies: Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt etc. Cool as curd, Ramdheer (colossal acting discovery: filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia), remains a master manipulator of sorts. His job becomes easy. This movie itself vividly captures the grip of popular entertainment in this small town of Dhanbad.
In the first scene of the film, you see a poster of Maine Pyar Kiya, which means we’re in 1989, though given that back in the day, movies used to reach the interiors of India much later; it’s probably the early ‘90s. This is also the decade that saw a communication revolution. We see a shift from the landline telephone to the pager and finally the cellphone as huge garden umbrellas called satellite dishes line the terraces of homes. Times have changed, the film suggests. It is no longer possible for one don to protect his turf against one rival.
Since the elder brother is already dead, the late Sardar’s younger son Faizal reluctantly takes over the family affairs. Despite his disinterest, he manages to expand the empire. I suspect this is because he engages with the young. One of his chief henchmen in fact is a 14-year-old “blade runner” of sorts, by the name of Perpendicular. He uses the double-edged blade like a deceptive sword. His assistant is called Tangent. Sardar’s other trusted hit-man is his demented teenaged step-brother called Definite. Together his team wreaks havoc. Faizal's name spells terror. The history of his family has been of revenge alone, encouraged by the family itself. The vicious cycle of blood and violence is infinite. Faizal however decides to make peace with Ramadheer, though you’re aware this pact is only temporary.
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Faizal Khan. Perpetually under the purple haze of cannabis, Faizal is a brave-heart who prefers to go into battles alone. Few actors in recent years have managed to morph into characters the way Nawazuddin has. His everyman looks and incredible command over his body helps him achieve a level of transition that makes every leading man you’ve met this year at the movies seem like monkeys – imitations, either of others, or their own selves. You’re equally stunned by the casting (Mukesh Chhabra) of the rest of the film. Each piece, right down to the toothy thanedar, fits in brilliantly across a saga phenomenally mined by the story writer Zeishan Qadri. Over the past few years, the kind of talents Anurag Kashyap has managed to attract and inspire as both producer and director makes him India’s top film school of his own. He’s rightly the fan-boy’s ultimate filmmaker. Director Ram Gopal Varma used to play this role in the previous decade. This is doubtlessly Kashyap’s best work yet.
Wasseypur, once a village, now a neighbourhood in the town of Dhanbad becomes part of Jharkhand when Bihar gets bifurcated into two states in 2000. Chaos is still complete. The presence of the state is negotiable. Faizal by now is married. He loves his wife. She loves him back. Both love the song, “Frustiao nahi mora. Nervasao nahi mora”. Merely the hybrid words of that song capture the essence of the region. The director is interested in detail, whether in the step-by-step procedure of murder or booth-capturing. If it got any closer, you'd be able to smell this place. Those familiar with these terrains will find themselves looking through the tinted glass; those not, will be thoroughly entertained.
A 520-minute mini-series format allows the filmmaker the scope to indulge. He’s clearly mastered the pop-corn art of sensational killings and colourful dialogue. The reason you prefer the second part of this film over the first is because this is where the beginning ties up with the end. You get a sense of the sheer scale of this film’s ambition. You can grasp the entire saga. You finally leave the theatre feeling slightly rejuvenated, but mostly heavy in the head. The film hits you like a thunder-bolt. Clearly that was the intention.