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Cannes 2012 review: Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur

By Bikas Mishra • Published on May 23, 2012
Gangs of Wasseypur at Cannes Directors' Fortnight

Gangs of Wasseypur

[W]ith Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Kashyap’s quest for his distinctive cinematic style seems to have found a conclusion. While he reaffirms his position as a master craftsman of Indian cinema, his storytelling suffers at times from his keenness to trivialize emotions in favour of bizzare comedy. In GoW, his teenager-like fascination with talking sex continues. The film is engaging yet predictable both in story and storytelling. However, it is an important film in the career of the director as it solidifies his style and temperament.

Like his Black Friday, Kashyap utilises the tool of narration to set up the stage for a Godfather-esque saga involving three generations of rivalry. The comparisions to the Coppola masterpiece is inevitable here in the context of the overall narrative structure and especially the character played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Much of Part one goes into setting up the massive canvas for the story of revenge and deceit. Although, one always felt that the canvas remains at best a passive backdrop for a lavish story.

Like Dev D, Anurag continues to use songs as background scores and uses phrases as dialogues at times to feed pop culture demands. A major attempt in that direction is a song in a mashed up language with words like upset-ana, nervous-ana.

That brings me to another solidified trait of Anurag Kashyap style – he deliberately trivialises potential cinematic moments where characters reveal their weaknesses. In a weak moment when the mafia don betrays his loss of faith in violence, his beloved wife sings the “nervous-ana nahi” song for him. She does the same when she visits him in a prison.

Though it is a film soaked in blood, the violence is stylized with a lighter tone. There is an entire song “jiya ho Bihar ke lala” picturized on a bullet-ridden dying don!

The film has the feel of a carnival. Even violence in the film seems celebratory, a kind of mix of Holi and Diwali (read guns and bloodbath). It’s a film that bursts out into a song much too often, though rarely disrupting the narrative. The director also attempts to capture the time and show progression of it through references to Bollywood songs and stars.

The film is also remarkable for some great performances led by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jaideep Ahlawat.

Gangs of Wasseypur is engaging after the first few minutes when one is bombarded with newsreel like informative narration. Once it manages to draw one into its world, it continues to remain engaging.

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