BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Starring: Jaideep Ahlawat, Manoj Bajpai and Richa Chadda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Piyush Mishra
If you thought the “Kyonki Ki Saas bhi kabhie bahu thi” opening of the movie had changed Anurag Kashyap’s genre, you would be highly mistaken. No saas bahu saazish this, the gritty, revenge saga sprawling over three generations walks you through the dusty coal mines of Bihar, where coal mining mafia rules, raves and rampages the city of Wasseypur in coal district Dhanbad.
Narrator Nasir (Piyush Mishra), Shahid’s brother describes the vows of vengeance and the bloody rivalry between Qureshis and Khans of Wasseypur spanning from 1940 to 2004. Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat), his son Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) and his sons Danish (Vineet Kumar) and Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) are three generations of Khan men. One Ramadheer Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), a prominent mafia don in Wasseypur senses threat from Shahid, one of his main “pehlwan” and decides to get rid of him. Sardar must avenge his father’s killing. He swears to remain bald until he gets even. This was back then. With the nationalization of the coal industry in the early ‘70s, trade unions of mining companies are merged into politics of the state. Ramadheer is in the center of all the action, he is a powerful MLA now and Sardar is a ganglord.
Kashyap’s characters are quite fascinating. Sardar himself is a wily, ruthless killer with revenge riding his very being and lust ruling his romance. Sardar is ashamed of neither. He married twice too, both uniquely strong in their own ways. Sardar’s wives, the fiery Nagma Khatoon (Richa Chadda) brimming with cuss words and flaming overtures and initially coy but quite the sharp cookie, ‘Bangalan’ Durga (Reema Sen) are exhilarating. The quirky humor offers comic relief through the volatile violence - Eat well says a disgruntled Nagma 'Bahar jaake bezati mat karana (Don't go out and disgrace yourself)', after she finally accepts wandering ways of her husband.
Written by Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and Kashyap, GOW runs for over two hours. Perfectly pitched language aptly supported and elevated by Sneha Khanwalkar’s folksy music and GV Prakash’s rusty background score only add to intended experience. ‘Hunter’, “Jiya Ho Bihar ke Lala’, among some 12 tracks are quite catchy. Slick editing by Shweta Venkat Matthew’s is an added bonus.
Soaked in blood and brutality, GOW captures the human emotions in the raw. The sketches are very real, so much so, that they are even allowed to falter, even those viscous gangsters. A pregnant wife beats up her cheating husband, another refuses to become a ‘bachche paida karnewali machine’. The moral breadth of the citizens of a lawless land is not something the metropolitan crowd may be able to relate to, so judging the characters as good or bad really makes no sense. It is what it is, and they are who they are.
Anurag stays true to his genre, hard hitting, and realistic cinema and it works. This is definitely one of Bajpayee’s memorable performances since Sathya. He is delightful, demented, despicable, and delectable all put together in one outstanding package. And this can really be said about pretty much every character is GOW I, be it the mean, menacing act by Tigmanshu Dhulia or the talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Even the gun dealer in Varanasi is not someone you will forget easily. Richa Chadda and Reema Sen, as wives of Bajpayee are all about the strength of women, be it physical or emotional.
As well as it is made, all the red and rampage, laced with plots and subplots can be quite exhausting and confusing, even. The To-be-continued does not really help either. However, there is much for those that seek cinema in the raw, bare format, including the country made pistols. If that is in fact your choice, then do not miss this one. Candy floss folks may want to steer clear.