Casually dressed in a blue shirt and jeans, Zeishan Quadri, 29, could melt effortlessly into the crowd. But don’t let his boy-next-door looks fool you, for he’s the man behind the hard-hitting script of Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW). Quadri’s first outing in Bollywood has earned him rave reviews.
The fast-paced film is set deep in the heart of Wasseypur and careens through the gory gang wars that have raged since 1941 between its coal mining mafia. Wasseypur is an area within Dhanbad, Quadri’s hometown, and the film (which will continue into a sequel) incorporates real-life incidents and lifelike characters.
But ever since the film’s release, Quadri has been threatened by Wasseypur’s local politicians for tarnishing its image. Says Quadri: “My script is based on true incidents that have been reported in newspapers and figure in police records. So why should I be scared?”
His journey from Dhanbad to Bollywood has been a speedy one. He started his career at a call centre in Delhi after completing his BBA from Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Management College, Meerut. “I was a Hindi film buff and decided to try my luck in the film industry on a whim. Untrained and uncertain of my next move, I landed in Mumbai on March 17, 2009, my 26th birthday,” he says.
While he went cold-calling film studios, he also penned an eight-page concept of what eventually became GOW. A chance meeting with Anurag Kashyap at Prithvi Theatre was a milestone. “Kashyap got interested in the story and asked me to come back with the complete script,” he recalls.
Quadri wrote a mammoth 140-page script (a regular film-script is about 40 pages) in 35 days flat. Later, this was shot in two parts with Quadri playing a cameo in the yet-to-be-released sequel. Quadri says: “Kashyap loved the story and decided that the film would run the entire length of the script.” So, it is 5 hours and 20 minutes long. The first installment of the film is a hit and received a rousing reception at Cannes earlier this year.
And what’s Quadri up to post GOW? “I am writing a script for a Mumbai-based story,” he says. And audiences are waiting to see if he can do a repeat of GOW.