Gangs of Wasseypur. The vicious cycle of violence, ambition and love in this sprawling, masterfully told epic! What an end to the Sydney Film Festival.
I’ve sat through way too many two hour films that have been an absolute drag. Gruelling, tiring affairs that have made me weary and wary of long runtimes. This was five and a half hours of cinema, and it felt effortless to watch. That is really saying something about the pacing, storytelling, direction and characters.
The mix of ultra-violence and humour is spot on. These criminals aren’t trained hit men, and their bumbling nature, at the tensest of times, breaks the mood of the film up nicely. Likewise the Bollywood tropes that are intertwined for comic value, especially the bard of Wasseypur! Oh, and there may be Singhs and Khans, but there’s also Tangent, Perpendicular and Definite, each name with a most magical origin story.
What starts out as a feud between two men, turns into a saga played out over 70 years and three generations. The ways to make money and the Bollywood films and stars they idolise may change, but the motivations of these families sure don’t. Not when revenge and ambition are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Their story may have ended, but the collateral damage, both physical and psychological, caused to Wasseypur and its people, will remain for a while yet.
I’d be amiss not to mention the wonderfully strong female characters that steal many a scene. There’s nothing subservient about this lot, and on more than one occasion, they’re the ones seeking retribution that moves the story along in an even bloodier direction.
The last Bollywood film I liked was Lagaan. I may have seen one or two after, but they reverted back to the formulaic, produced-for-masses stories that I never cared for. This could be complete ignorance on my part. Regardless, I wish more Indian films took a chance like Anurag Kashyap’s latest. It’s a breath of fresh air not only as a film out of India, but will surely go down in the annals of classic gangster flicks.