Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

June 22, 2012


Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:35 pm

June 22, 2012

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Richa Chaddha, Reema Sen, Huma Qureshi, Jaideep Ahlawat, Piyush Mishra

Director: Anurag Kashyap

On the surface, Gangs of Wasseypur is a revenge saga, a tableau of vengeance between generations of gangsters. Scratch that surface and you’ll discover more than just a grim portrait. Director Anurag Kashyap decides to tell this story his way, infusing it with moments of sly wit that give the blood-soaked drama irresistible color.

I’m reminded of a scene mid-way into the movie where Manoj Bajpayee’s character Sardar publicly embarrasses his archenemy Ramadhir Singh, played superbly by Tigmanshu Dhulia. Sitting atop a megaphone van, blasting that 80s disco hit Kasam paida karne wale ki as a dancer leads the way with trademark Mithun pelvic thrusts, Sardar pauses the song to issue a calm threat to the mine owner-turned-local politico. There is palpable dread coming off Ramadhir Singh as he watches Sardar from his balcony.

This is gang warfare set in the badlands of Dhanbad’s Wasseypur district, but tinged with humor and heightened by music. It makes for a heady movie cocktail, and since Kashyap has divided his saga into two parts, you’ll leave the cinema thirsting to know how it all ends in Part 2.

What hurts the film however is its arduous length. At roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes, Gangs bears down on you, especially the opening half-hour or so, with its countless characters and complicated family tree…portions that might have benefitted from tighter scripting and judicious editing.

The involved back-story of how Sardar’s father Shahid Khan (played by a magnetic Jaideep Ahlawat) kicks off a rivalry with the Qureshis is mixed in with Wasseypur’s socio-political history. When Shahid Khan is murdered by Ramadheer Singh, it sets off the revenge trail that lasts between the Khans and the Qureshis over generations.

The movie’s central character is Sardar, who vows to avenge his father’s death, not by killing Ramadhir, but making him endure many silent deaths through humiliation and the fear of being stalked. The best way to describe Manoj Bajpayee’s crackling performance would be to say that you can’t separate the character from the actor. Sardar is brutal when he kills, he cowers when he’s caught cheating by his wife Nagma, and is in a trance of lust when he first sets eyes on ‘womaniya’ Durga, who becomes his second wife.

Gangs has a cast that delivers in spades – be it Tigmanshu Dhulia as Ramadhir Singh, or the excellent Pankaj Tripathi as butcher Sultan Qureshi, who takes on Sardar. This film is a male bastion, but the women are unforgettable. Richa Chaddha sparkles as Sardar’s steely wife Nagma, while Reema Sen as the sensuous Durga says more through her eyes than her sparse lines. If there’s a character that holds up to Sardar, it’s his pot-smoking son Faisal, played by the terrific Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He’s the closest thing to Michael Corleone in this Godfather-styled, Tarantinoesque film, and a scene by the lake when he tentatively courts a film-crazy Mohsina (played by Huma Qureshi) is just deliciously funny.

Filmed crisply, without any gimmicks by Rajeev Ravi, Gangs is both steeped in cinematic tradition, yet modern in its treatment. You’re especially seduced by the way Kashyap blends the songs into his narrative, often using them against the film’s most visceral, violent scenes. A big thumbs-up for composer Sneha Khanwalkar who goes all guns blazing to deliver a marvelous mixed-bag of a soundtrack that contains such irresistible gems as I am a hunter and Keh ke loonga.

Bolstered by its riveting performances and its thrilling plot dynamics, this is a gripping film that seizes your full attention. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur. Despite its occasionally indulgent narrative, this bullet-ridden saga is worthy of a repeat viewing, if only to catch all its nuances. Don’t miss it.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. m gonna surely wtch it…. thanks

    Comment by kunwar siddharth — June 22, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  2. Well, so its a certified fresh in theatres now…. amazing thing about it is GOW replied TMK like this… “Keh ke Lunga” and now we are observing GOW is “keh ke le raha hai”….:p

    Comment by Ravi Ojha — June 22, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  3. “Nawazuddin is the closest thing to Michael Corleone in this Godfather-styled, Tarantinoesque film” So much raving and yet 3.5? Though a very convincing review. Definitely this deserves a repeat viewing. Have my review: http://thepuccacritic.blogspot.in/2012/06/gangs-of-wasseypur.html

    Comment by Anup Pandey — June 23, 2012 @ 12:29 am

  4. I am very disappointed with this pathatic review, you also got sold. GoodBye mr masand, where are the shortcomings, where is towering hype AK created. Have a heart and watch it again.

    Comment by Vikram Gandhi — June 23, 2012 @ 12:34 am

  5. just finished watching it and it does leave me thirsting for more inspite of its length. However, unlike the godfather sagas, the isolated movie does not stand as a complete narrative and leaves a lot to be done in part II. You are absolutely right in pointing out how Faizal comes close to becoming the Michael Corleone like character. The sequence where he,unknowingly, outwits his grandfather Shahid Khan’s killer is the high point of the movie for me. The two minor love sequences add to teh humour element of the movie but act as over-indulgent digression especially near the climactic scenes. It’s an epic effort from Kashyap and locating it in a historical socio-political context adds to the filmmaker’s mettle. Piyush Mishra as narrator is well chosen and intrudes only where needed. Hope, you will give us some bits about part 2 soon Rajeev. 🙂

    Comment by arpit kumar — June 23, 2012 @ 12:47 am

  6. Best performance by Manoj Bajpai yet…may have even surpassed Bhiku Mhatre..

    Comment by kapil shivarkar — June 23, 2012 @ 2:46 am

  7. quite apt sir .. though I felt second half could have been edited more, it would have given the movie even more edge and would have done justice to the momentum of the first half.

    Comment by shrey — June 23, 2012 @ 2:57 am

  8. A must watch for me. Just for the cast (Manoj Bajpai!!! and Tigmashu Dhulia) and moreover because its an Anurag Kashyap film.

    Comment by HP_NYC — June 23, 2012 @ 5:36 am

  9. indeed its a great movie…

    Comment by kalamirani — June 23, 2012 @ 6:34 am

  10. Hi,
    I agree with ur review here! This films highlight is the characters , how can anurag think of such characters and put them together! Manoj has done great work. His wife Nagma has done it too! Over all we can say waiting for the second part soon!

    Comment by Rashmi — June 23, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  11. you always give above 3 stars to offbeat films, but in reality they are boring,not gonna a see this..
    your review on shangai proves that!!

    Comment by sagar — June 23, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  12. this movie brings the bollywood level up.
    i m just getting bore after watching those south indian remake.
    the gangs of wassepur and paan singh tomar are those movie who make bollywood different from others hoods.

    Comment by Devanjan — June 24, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  13. Some people find happiness in watching same love story in different actors or some illogical masala films.For them this movie is boaring.. But offbeat films are the real to judge the performance of all film making people..Becoz no one has presented d subject of film before or imagine it b4.People who like hollywood offbeat films ,why do they dont like indian offbeat, i dont understand this fact.You can watch movies like saw with interest then y cant movies like shanghai , GOW. I like the movie and your review too mr.Masand.

    Comment by Messi — June 24, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  14. My Review

    Comment by Ashwath — June 24, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

  15. i have just seen the film. There is nothing in the film apart from vulgarity. 2.5 stars is the max that should have been given.

    Comment by vivek — June 24, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

  16. the film is a mixture of good and boring scenes. Almost a one man show from Manoj. Too confusing story. Not much difference if you leave the theater before second half and rejoin 20 minutes after it. No one could understand manoj’s character and his logics. Nawasudheen- outstanding..

    Comment by Ajber rahman — June 25, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  17. not good,its boring 🙁

    Comment by nitheesh — June 27, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  18. Hi ,
    I totally accept almost all your reviews and ratings, I agree with your review of GOW. But your reviews in general have one major flaw…you reveal too much of the storyline in it…revealing things like the father getting killed or him getting married the second time, totally spoils the character development in the viewers mind. I didn’t expect that the father would be killed, nor did I knew he would marry Durga. You have a tendency to reveal too many details, about a particular scene when u describe it. I have simply stopped reading your reviews to the movies, I expect to see. I skip to bottom of the review to check the ratings and make my decision. Then later read the complete review…Like I did for this movie…

    Comment by Sujith Pillai — June 27, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

  19. I hated the movie from the first scene itself until just before interval when I could not bear the mindless madness any more and walked out for my own good. Among all the glowing reviews for this morose moron of a movie – I am surprised as to what every reviewer missed and what are some glaring art direction glitches in the movie. Most of the 1st half of the movie moves between 1940s to late 1970s. One of the characters (I forget who but it could be the Ramadhir Singh character) is shown alighting from a dark green Mahindra Jeep which is a recent model vehicle and which was not part of Mahindra’s fleet until the 1970s. Later, the Jeep which Sardar Khan uses – a blue Mahindra again is shown with a pair of odd-man-out square headlamps which again was not available even in the Indian accessories market until the 1970s – it is very clearly a contemporary shoddily modified Mahindra Jeep. Again the same Jeep’s steering wheel is shown clad with a plastic dotted steering wheel grip – which was never in existence in the pre-1980s India. And now the biggest and most glaring glitch of them all: did you notice carefully that the small green Fiat 1100D car in which Ramadhir Singh and another character J.P. Singh come driving in – is shown with a white number plate with black lettering. India moved to white number plate and black lettering very recently and in those days all Indian non-commercial vehicles had black number plates and white lettering on them.

    Cannot believe that a director of Anurag Kashyap’s stature has overlooked these simple details. I request others to please point out other such glaring art-direction glitches, if they happen to find any in the movie and enlighten us – especially in the 2nd half – since I choose to walk out of the movie half way and would not know.

    Comment by S Mohan Kumar — June 28, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  20. Some people were so busy reading the number plates of various jeeps shown in the movie that they forgot to see the brilliant acting, superb music and a great story that is being played before their eyes. Such a pity. Who the hell care about such minute unnecessary details. This movie was not for you my dear……..

    Comment by sam — June 29, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  21. went to see GOW after bunking office and came out of multiplex with a headache. the movie digresses into the lengthy love stories of the entire generation of grandfather to grandson leaving the main theme aside. There are no ploys, no double cross (except during the end) between gangs but just vicious, endless, crazy violence. i haven’t heard gangs chopping members of other gangs in their bastion. (they don’t even have time to do the butchery).Very impractical in the sense that Sardar khan, a absconding prisoner keeping two wives and moving freely between Dhanbad and Wasseypur.

    on the positive side, the star cast perfectly matches the characters played and they looked real. GOW will supercede omkara for unconventional dialogs and abuses. It has excellent background music, the AK streotype. All actors played their part well and Manoj Bajpayee doing excellent. I really liked MP doing Salmaan Khan.

    I will give 2 out of 5 to it because of acting and unconventional dialogs.

    Comment by Shashank — June 29, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  22. Sam my dear!

    Yes the movie is not my types. I should have forewarned myself before venturing out to watch it. Who cares if I miss one supposedly great but crass movie in a year!

    Comment by S Mohan Kumar — June 30, 2012 @ 3:26 am

  23. Sam dear! Here dear – another goof-up from the movie. This is not my ankhon-dekhi but from a like minded soul who has posted this on IMDB.com:

    “The ambassador car of Ramadheer Singh which Sardar Khan asks his worker to dismantle into bits and pieces with number plate 6029 re-appears later in the scene where Ramadhir Singh gets down from his car holding the wedding invitation of Danish Khan.”

    Would you say to him too: Such a pity??? If yes, then what a pity!

    Comment by S Mohan Kumar — June 30, 2012 @ 3:38 am

  24. Dear S Mohan Kumar

    You must be on pot yorself while watching this movie dude. Are you an automobile mechanic or what?? I mean we Indians will never grow up, is what your comment reveals. Or may be you went with a bunch of people whom you should have strictly avoided. Apart from these reasons I dont see any reason (convincing) for you to just comment on the the Jeeps and cars being used in the movie. Only if you could have used more of your brains to understand the plot of teh movie, the makes and numbers of the jeeps wouldnt have bothered you that much. as for the movie itself, lets give it a fair due. Th movie isnt a classic, but to to use derogatory adjectives to describe a movie which by all means was a “Paisa wasool” if not really cool, is quite amusing.
    Please, spare a thought , isnt it the same movie which got the loudest applaus at Cannes this year & trust me they didnt complain about Mahindra’s steering wheel grip. C’mon man get some life. its a movie and not NASCAR where grips really matter.

    Comment by sabby — June 30, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  25. Dear Sabby,

    I understand what you want to convey to me. Probably in the heat of not having liked the movie, I have used some adjectives to describe my feelings for the film which is not justified in a public forum like this….and probably I could have opened a private discussion on Facebook or other social networking sites. But for me it was not a movie of my types as I have said earlier also, and I will be more careful next time in venting my frustration….if I may be allowed to say so. But yaar…..yeh desh ek azaad desh hai aur sabko apna apna haq haasil hai apni baat kehne ka! Agar aap sun nahi sakte toh jaise TV par channel change kar dete hain waise yeh webpage band kar dein!

    Aur sahab….I don’t smoke or drink nor do I take any kind of drugs or something which make me lose my senses…..so you do not have ANY right to make allegations against me like that! Don’t you think you are going overboard here and crossing your lines of decency?

    If you get offended by somebody’s comments on some aspect of a movie which for you may be inconsequential (like pointing out some goof ups in the film) then you are not getting the picture dude. Check out some audience reviews for Hollywood films and how detailed and severe they are – and they take goof-ups very seriously and don’t just brush them under the carpet like you guys are suggesting me to do…..just because the movie was applauded at Cannes! You say its just a movie and not real life……and then you would also complain when Indian films are not nominated for the best foreign language film category at the Oscars or even when rarely nominated and they fail to win the Oscars.

    Comment by S Mohan Kumar — July 1, 2012 @ 1:50 am

  26. A great film in all aspects , loved acting of Manoj , Pankaj Tripathi , Nawaz , Richa , Tigmanshu , Reema………….Acult film by Anuraag kashyap.

    Comment by Varun Sood — July 2, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  27. My GOW review http://cinemathatmatters.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/movie-review-gangs-of-wasseypur-3/

    Comment by Saurabh Tiwari — July 6, 2012 @ 2:10 am

  28. WHat bickering people! Let people focus on cars/jeeps or whatever they like in a movie, we can’t burn their effigies.
    I was focussing on the ‘Womaniya’s. 😛
    What acting, what subtle nuances, and yet, what crass action (required)! I’m a fan. Eagerly waiting for Part 2.

    But Alas, this is India where a movie is not considered art but in my terms rape-of-art. Movies like Bol Bachchan can easily 100 crores where as this
    All in the name os stress buster! Unfortunaately, my idea of stress-busting is to have a meaningful enjoyment, it all depends on your IQ, I’v heard 😛

    Comment by Pranav — July 8, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  29. Good movie. but I don’t understand Anurag Kashyap’s fascination with dragging a particular scene, in this movie every scene is dragged, a much crisp editing would have made an Indian ‘pulp fiction’. I think Kashyap should gear up and do cinemas like this which have greater reach (but little more crispier). With his attitude towards film making, I have bet on him to be the genre changer in Indian cinema.

    Manoj bajpai is outstanding. The music is new and again genre changer, kudos to the girl you have done fabulous job. I think with this film making money, we get more creative people being discovered.

    I thought the next part would be named ‘Gangs of Dhanbad’, but any way waiting to see that.

    Comment by Chandan — July 10, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

  30. Having seen the society depicted in GOW very closely, I would like to say two things about the movie:

    1) It depicts the realty of eastern UP too closely for comfort. Such realty should not be shown on cinema as it is obnoxious.
    2) The characters in the film and the people that they depict are not heroic, brave, steely etc. the comments I read in various reviews rather they are ‘chootiyas’, all of them.

    If reality is what you are looking for, the one character that stands out is the dancer in ‘Kasam Paida Karne Vale Ki’, It is such a common character in most of eastern UP, the local rangbaaz who will wear ‘Chamkeela Bushshut’ and put ‘Kala Gaagal’ and dance in front of the orchestra in Holi.

    Comment by Nilay — July 16, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

  31. great movie. much has been said about he movie so nothing much left. nice review.
    and whats with the number plates, jeep models, steering wheels people? you have a very stupid definition of details in a movie. The details are in the dialogues and small events and in that regard its a landmark movie. Watch it one more time to really understand the movie.

    Comment by john — July 19, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  32. Nice review though i would say that even though the film was long, the time literally flew … amazing movie (my point of view cz i’m a real big anurag kashyap fan) those of u who r confused with the plot watch it another time … at first i found it abstract …. i still loved it … i watched it another time and fell in love with it … and DETAILS? well if u were so smart u shud’ve noted things like one of sultan’s henchmen saying “Are dekho bhaiya Definete ja rha hai” in the 2004 prolouge … definite comes for the second part … or durga calling her sone “Definetva” which i’m sure u wudnt have noticed instead focusing urself on number plates .. it wud’ve helped u figure out who he was before they told u … o_O nyways waiting fr part 2 … the epic conclusion

    Comment by Monal — July 21, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  33. awesome movie … 4 stars from me …

    Comment by Aman — August 17, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  34. its an anurag kashyap materpiece/

    Comment by abdulla — October 17, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

  35. over all it is a fantttttttttttttastic film.

    Comment by rahul — February 21, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

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