23 Jun 2012

Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur (Part I): Greed, Gun, Lust Carved Into Small-Town Literature

As is a sign in good cinema, no actor's performance is allowed to overshadow the movie's flow...

It will take the release of the second part to conclude in summation on this epic endeavour that could well be a book on a history of crime. The film begins in 1941 somewhere in the smoky coal-rich badlands of what is by dialect and geography inclined to either Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.

To cut the long story short, the first part of the aptly ‘A’ rated Gangs of Wasseypur is immensely watchable for the lovers of the gangster drama genre. The weak points are few and far in between. A mild start with just too many guns booming and a two-minute part in between seems to drag, but that is about it. The rest is all bull’s eye and fresh, as the director’s breakthrough Dev D (2009) was.

The strength again is in the rich writing, dialogue, endearing characters and performances. For making us like onscreen murderers for whom killing is a casual, every day part of life is no small achievement. Seven decades are adroitly covered in 150 minutes of smoky greed-gun-lust celebration.

Sexual repression and expression - both make humourous, realistic appearances, from a wife catching her husband with a prostitute to a woman reprimanding a potential lover for not asking permission before holding her hand. The stand-out scenes are many, never have Indian abuses sounded so natural and enjoyable, and the way commercial Hindi film culture is embedded here is fun.

Without giving much away, go for it, cinema lovers.

The rooted, unconventional Sneha Khanwalkar soundtrack adds gleam to the realistic setting, much like Amit Trivedi's connect in Dev D.  A zany non-filmy take on the earth sounds of North India, the stand outs - Womaniya and the evocative Jiya Tu Bihar Ke Lala. A word also for G.V. Prakash's background score.   

It is not a complain, but the Dev D poster art was so much more to look at

The colour of coal more coherent than dialogue
The stunning Huma Qureshi plays Mohsina
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Faisal Khan
Reema Sen is a surprise as the sensuous, pivotal Durga

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