Friday, January 6, 2017

Gangs of Wasseypur Movie Review

Gangs of Wasseypur  (2012)
Rent Gangs of Wasseypur on Amazon Video
Written by: Akhilesh Jaiswal, Anurag Kashyap, Sachin K. Ladia, Zeishan Quadri
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Starring:   Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Rated: --/R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

In this Hindi language film, a feud spanning three generations is ignited in the 1940s after Shahid Khan plans to take over the coal mines from Ramadhir Singh in the village of  Wasseypur, Inida.

This a vast story of crime, capturing the history of a family and a city. It's not just a good Indian film, but a good movie. It avoids the typical Bollywood musical sequences and detractors that frequently occur, and while it is long, the story requires it.
This is an epic struggle for power among kings of crime and offspring, plagued by enemies and family alike. Everyone wants power and is willing to shed blood for it. The mantle doesn't just pass from father to son, but to anyone ruthless enough to take it.
Watch it.

Depending on where you watch this it will be two 2.5 hour movies, or on Netflix it's an eight episode mini-series. It was originally screened at Cannes as a single 5 hour movie.
Sardar Khan.
This story starts in the 1940's with Shahid Khan who is forced to leave his home when he's caught robbing trains. He starts a new life working in a coal mine, becoming an enforcer and seizing land from the residents for Ramadhir Singh to expand operations. Shahid's aspirations of power get him killed. Ramadhir had ordered Shahid's entire family to be killed, but his son managed to escape.

Shahid's son Sardar learns what happened when he gets older and vows he won't grow his hair until vengeance is fulfilled. Sardar is a bandit with aspirations bigger than his late father's. Sardar causes trouble for Ramadhir, who realizes Sardar is Shahid's son.

I don't want to overstate this movie, but it's like The Godfather of Indian films with a sprawling story, questioning the influences of family and crime. While it isn't The Godfather, it may be the closest we've gotten since the '70s.
It tracks the city's socioeconomic history, starting as a British colony before the coal mines were turned over to wealthy landowners. Coal gave way to iron ore before Faizal profits from illegal internet trading. The more money the crimes bosses make, the worse the conditions in the city get. Wasseypur becomes a war zone.

Sardar wanted revenge, but never got it. He enjoyed the power and wealth as he became feared in the city. He started as a bandit in the '70s and by the '90s, and he becomes one of the most powerful men in Wasseypur. His oldest son Danish had joined his father in the business, while his other son Faizal had become a stoner.

Ramadhir Singh allies with Sultan Qureshi and they plot to kill Sardar. Sardar lived by the gun and died by the gun. The uneasy peace between families is now broken.

Danish avenges his father, but is killed by Sultan. Thinking the war is over, Sultan and Ramadhir are surprised when stoner Faizal not only avenges his brother, but becomes the most feared man in Wassseypur. Each Khan successor is more ruthless than the last.

A tangled web of alliances form as kids form gangs and loot in broad daylight. Faizal's step brothers Definite and Perpendicular are the worst of the bunch. Their brashness can be traced back in part to Faizal who glamorized being a gangster, dressing like famous movie stars. He made it cool, but Sardar provided the blueprint of how to rule. You take what you want. That became the culture, but tThe bonds of family and blood aren't as strong as the desire for power. Ramadhir's son J.P. and Definite both want Faizal's position.

This ends as it began, violent. Power is everything. While kings change, there will always be a new challenger under the allure of wealth and influence.

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