If someone sat with a stopwatch and clocked how many of those 160 minutes the camera simply lingered on the face of the film’s leading man, it will account for a lot of the running time. It seems Anurag Kashyap forgot to say cut when the camera rolled and didn’t cut short when the footage flowed. He must have been simply watching the brilliance that is Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Seldom has the camera made love to a man like this. A fully clothed man — often in simple striped shirts and trousers, sometimes lungi — with no great height or booming voice. Just the grin and the gaze. The Nawaz smile can tell any kahaani — no wonder Sujoy Ghosh calls his Khan ‘the man with the smirk’. And when they are not hiding behind the Aviators, those eyes can take you through every emotion in the book.
Nawaz’s Faizal Khan takes Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur to the epic level the two-part film always set its sights on. Unlike in the first part when the protagonist Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) came some time into the film, his second son Faizal gives Part II a smoking start — and literally so. So, Kashyap’s constant endeavour of weaning away from the plot and getting into character gets a headstart from very early on.
You enter the world of Faizal, a straightforward, ganja-smoking, Bollywood-fed slacker, who is besotted with the neighbourhood number Mohsina (Huma Qureshi). But even before he can tell a friend from an enemy, he is hurled into the bloody family revenge saga when his father and elder brother are killed by Sultan Qureshi (Pankaj Tripathi) at the behest of Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia).
“Humein kabhi Abba ke dhandhe mein nahin aana tha,” he cries much later but when his mother (Richa Chaddha) had charged him at knifepoint — “Faisal, kab khoon khaulega re tera?” — he really didn’t have an option. We didn’t call it wrong after the first film (in the t2 review) that he indeed was set up as the Michael Corleone of the piece.
But like the first film, GoW II is not about one man’s journey. Just when Faizal was running away with his revenge and the film, Kashyap puts the brakes on as he introduces another consortium of characters.
Wasseypur turns into City of God as young kids roll blades in their mouth, shoot people in broad daylight and dream of running their own gangs a la Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan. “Sab ke dimaag mein apna apna cinema chal raha hai.” They are called Perpendicular, Tangent and Definite. The last-named (Zeishan Quadri, also the writer of the film) is the fifth son of Sardar, born from his other wife (the Bangalan played by Reemma Sen) and while he idolises Faizal, he has a few plans of his own. Add to this a double-crossing trader, the minister’s son, a couple of cops, Faizal’s cronies and it’s really a zoo out there.
Every time you think you have a vague idea of the bloodlines and who’s gunning for who’s blood, some new guy runs in with a pistol. There’s a crucial character who gets introduced in the last 20 minutes of the film. How do you possibly keep track? Come on, Ramadhir Singh, who’s lived almost all of those 320 minutes couldn’t remember the name of the first-born of Sardar Khan. It was the overriding feeling in the first film and you’ve got to ask Kashyap the same question after the second one — did you really need to populate the world of Wasseypur with that many people? If you were always running a fictional disclaimer at the top, did you have to do justice to every guy you met during your recce trips?
The only plot-driven film split into two parts — strictly a different practice from a movie with a sequel — where the volumes worked individually and together was Kill Bill. Primarily because there was just a handful of characters and a simple one-line revenge tale that was easy to remember and easier to root for. Wasseypur spreads out more like the two-part biopics Che and Mesrine and the more it unspools, the more it goes out of control.
Again what stays back are some terrific movie moments, mostly featuring Nawaz. His scenes with Huma are so good, how you wish there could be a separate film called Pangs of Wasseypur! Mohsina’s love and support for Faizal reminds you of Karen Hill from Goodfellas who as Henry Hill’s wife was married into the mafia and became a natural inductee of that world.
Unlike the more self-serious first part, Kashyap cuts loose with the humour — he calls it “Bihari cool” — and has a lot of fun with the action and chase sequences. Particularly crazy is the setpiece where Definite comes to kill the trader Shamshad at his home. His pistol gets stuck and the chaser suddenly starts getting chased. One’s scooter breaks down, the other’s scooter runs out of fuel and they are on their feet again. A touch of Black Friday, remember?
Sadly by the time it all comes towards that blood-dripping end — not for the faint-hearted this film — you really want this loopy revenge roller to stop once and for all. If you can’t recall why this tit for tat tale was set in motion in the first place, you can only enjoy the final smile — oh that smile! — at face value.
Sneha Khanwalkar continues to carry on the good work with the music and here her self-rendered Kaala re gets the best Kashyap treatment on screen. Thanks to his constant collaborator behind the lens, Rajeev Ravi, who incredibly manages to give the film a uniform look despite staying true to the regular time jumps.
A throwaway line from the film goes: “Jab tak Hindustan mein cenima hai, public ch**iya banti rahegi!” Now, which cenima would that be, Anurag? The Gangs of Wasseypur kind or the kind that gave birth to the gangs of Wasseypur?
Pratim D. Gupta
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