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FILM REVIEWS

Gangs of Wasseypur II - Bloody comedy

In the second part of his magnum opus the filmmaker continues with his obsession with recycling stylized Hollywood crime-land humor and mayhem into local lingo and setting. He has also become neurotic about box-office figures now. The desire to succeed commercially is getting more and more intense. He probably believes and would like us to believe as well that he is doing path-breaking work and his two-part film represents and recreates an important piece of Indian history. Interestingly there is a section of cognoscenti that goes gaga over such 'bullshit art'. In fact this form of communication is gaining great traction these days in our beloved country in numerous human endeavours, from politics and business to social activism, philosophy, and various arts.

Faizal Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), younger son of slain goon Sardar Khan, assumes the leadership of his family after his elder brother is also killed and his grieving mother taunts him as a 'ganjedi' (pot-smoker) no-good guy. He brutally kills one of the conspirators and establishes his terror raj. His half-pant and hawaai-chappal wearing younger brother Perpendicular also turns out be a minor terror for small-time shopkeepers in Wasseypur. His stepbrother Definite, born to Sardar Khan's other wife Durga (Reemma Sen) who had betrayed him, is nursing the ambition of ruling Wasseypur too. Ramadheer Singh buys peace with Faizal and lets him have a free run of Wasseypur. Sultan (Pankaj Tripathi) does not like it and continues to conspire against Faizal with encouragement from Ramadheer's idiot of a son J.P Singh (Satya Anand).

Faizal marries Mohsina (Huma Qureshi) and both have wild sex on the first night of their marriage. As a result of that the solid walls of Sardar Khan's haveli shake and wake up the entire family. This turns on the aged Farhan (Piyush Mishra) as he thinks of his sexual escapades with Faizal's mother Nagma (Richa Chadda). He flagellates himself in a dark room as a penance for such dirty thoughts in THE DA VINCI CODE style. After a five minutes respite the predictable 'conspire and kill' theme is back on track and replays in continuous loops, interspersed with typical gangland comic gags to make you laugh. One by one almost all but a few principal characters die. They die like sitting ducks with very little effort by their opponents, falling prey to juvenile murder conspiracies replete with 'thain thain pistolbaazi', 'dhoom dhaam bumbaazi', 'AK 47 bullet barrage', and the bright red flow of fluorescent blood. There are quite a few over-stretched running sequences to add to the 'saga' length of the film. This is a much familiar and oft employed leitmotif of the 'master'.

The writers come up with creative ideas like naming the characters as Definite, Perpendicular, and Tangent. These are the high-points of their cinematic acumen in this film. In my view they are just 'showing off' or 'flaunting' their knowledge of elementary trigonometry. In fact the film is full of ostentatious 'flaunting' attempts that are too apparent, and merely betray the filmmaker's extreme anxiety and neurosis to impress the audience with the avant-garde nature of his work. It is comparable with what Poonam Pandey and Sherlyn Chopra do to get noticed. It's surprising that he does it even after having made so many films. Does he do it to build his brand and perpetuate a legacy, which is more like an inventory of cheap Chinese fakes of western brands?

Let me make a dramatic assessment of the film's dialogues for your information. Repeated references to anal, and vaginal openings constitute almost 60% of them. That is the kind of hard work the film's writer have put in.

Yet again, there is a running commentary that connects the chronology of events to the supposedly actual history of Dhanbad and its coal mafia. Had the film just been a stylized caricature of gang wars with imaginary characters, it won't have got my back up. However, the filmmaker claims historical validity and wants his work to be taken as a piece of Indian history and reality. It's like Tarantino suggesting that his gory tale INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was based on actual events in World War II history. You cannot expect us to buy bullshit like that. You cannot sell your pulp fiction as a textbook of history. That is lying and cheating the audience. It also shows that the filmmaker is suffering from some kind of self-delusion that may have worsened after his film was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes this year. He is the Tarantino and the Francis Ford Coppola of India now since the French and international critics seem to have validated his work as such.

It will be helpful if he gets rid of such delusions. Instead of flying on the balloon of such pejorative branding, he should donate his library of world cinema DVDs to wannabe filmmakers and visit Igatpuri's Vipasana Ashram and reevaluate his work objectively in silent Indian surroundings. He has to deal with his anxiety to convince people about his avant-garde credentials by resorting to scatological humor, expletive laden dialogues, and copycat cinematic style and storytelling. He has to rise above such mediocrity. If Indian film-fakers can do this, they can emerge as true filmmakers of global repute. This is the time when they can conquer the world of art house as well as mainstream commercial cinema by developing their unique indigenous cinematic styles and ideas rooted in their native soil.

Rajesh Kumar Singh