Gangs of Wasseypur - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

You'll watch a great film unfold that is engaging despite being slow and violent. Yet, it is quite literally incomplete. Powerful performances and rustic visuals and sounds make the film worth a watch just by themselves.



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'Whacky' - every frame of Gangs of Wasseypur reeks of it. Imagine that in film set in the interiors of Jharkhand. The language, the characters, the dynamics of their relationship with each other, the songs that play in the background all add to the rugged, earthy feeling of the film. An experience very few directors in India can provide. Yet, it is not self-sufficient. As a story the experience is incomplete because we know we have watched only half a film. There's more to come and what we saw so far is not a film that stands alone.

Much like its characters, Wasseypur has been pushed from here to there at hands of destiny and the world has been very matter-of-factly about it. In typical documentary tone you are told how Wasseypur has moved from Bengal to Bihar to now Jharkhand over 40-odd years. It is almost ironical when the voice behind that tone, Piyush Mishra is consoling a woman whose husband has cheated on her comment on her destiny. Many a time it does come across as a docu-drama that Anurag Kashyap wants to use to document the messed up system that most of India lived in since independence.

Gangs of Wasseypur is a story Wasseypur's story, where Wasseypur itself represents the many small towns in this country that suffer at the hands of politicians and goons. You can't even call it the underworld because the perpetrators are so blatant about the fear they want to induce with their power. At the same time, humor is infused and character of the film is built with time references to various films along the way. Almost as a pointer to the Bollywood-centric theme that part II is promised to have.

While Gangs of Wasseypur touts itself as a revenge saga, you will realize it is a lot more. An anti-hero as a protagonist who finds it difficult to go without sexual release. He almost always comes across as the underdog because of the situations that he gets himself into and often he looks like he is making a fool of himself. Yet he is tender at heart for the people he really cares about. The dry humor used only adds to that judgement. You can't but wonder how his experiences as a son might have changed the equation with his sons. Strong women who aren't lead ladies by Hindi film standards - they are proud of how brutally the men of their lives use power against the entire world (except for them), a staunch friend, a few double crossers, sons who find it difficult to get out of their dad's shadow even though they hate him, all don’t let Gangs of Wasseypur remain a standard revenge saga.

Yes, it is violent. Yes, it does try to make the same ol' point that revenge films have always tried - that it is futile because too many people on all sides die too gory a death. But Gangs of Wasseypur goes beyond that, it has characters who represent dissent - to them truce is not an option, never. Very few 'gang war' films allow room to those people who were bruised so bad that they cannot forgive. Also you see that exiting the trade is not an option. Even if a goon wants to mend his ways, if he is high profile enough, whatever business he gets into will invite unhealthy attention from rivals.

To single out any one or two actors as being good at their job might imply that the others weren't as good and that woul be plain wrong.

And what about the other stars of the film - the outstanding music, the way each film uses natural sources of light and keeps artificial ones at minimum, the fairly simple but amazingly perfect composition of frames, the three or four times slow-motion is used, especially in the last scene, the background score that becomes outright crazy given the context it is used in. No review would be complete without mentioning these heroes.

Gangs of Wasseypur may demand patience from some of the viewers, but I enjoyed the pace and the time it took to settle down. It's like reading beautiful prose, whether or not you like what is written, you admire the way it is written. More often than not, you find yourself wondering if this is India's very own Godfather. Yet, it doesn't take away from the nagging incomplete feeling. Though what it also means is you are asking for the more you have been promised with utmost eagerness.

Ps. What is it about use of abusive language in films that makes young adult males giggle like teenage girls?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads and loads. Brutal, especially that going on off-screen, just the sound-effects can make you cringe at the brutality
  • Language: Lots of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Intercourse implied and a strong sexual undercurrent
  • Concept: Revenge saga
  • General Look and Feel: Grim, dark, grainy, classy.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4.5
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 3.5
  • Music Director: 5
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Gangs of Wasseypur - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (10)

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@Sunny yep! that dark humor, it does draw your attention!


On an unrelated note, Bollywood Hungama should get a new music reviewer.


@Rahul ha ha ha ha!


Glad to see the movie work out great!


Meetu i have to laud your observation . "Women are proud of how brutaly the man of their lives use power against other except for them" . I believe this is the reality of all mafia lord wives around d world , no wonder it was detected by a woman ( you ) . I think u really sensed the movie's environment aptly. :D

Murtaza Ali:

Nicely written! While I am almost certain about movie's great show in the global arena, I too am skeptical about movie's show at the Box office.

Also, I recently wrote a review of Gangs of Wasseypur for my movie blog that can be read at:


@Amol possible, very possible that I miss out on the context being a woman. More often than not though, I can't help but feel that the laughter, LOLs, giggles, snickers are all out of seeing someone do/say the forbidden. You are right, it doesn't amuse me because to me they are just words, like any other words, and I guess it's my loss that I don't see the joke. What I have a problem with though is the constant loudness of laughter because of which you miss out on dialogue that follows. Oh well, I take it as a part of the atmosphere the film has created.

@Harsh I thought the abusive language was used very, very matter-of-factly which was why it worked so well. I think the audience creating a joke out of it, made it look juvenile - which it certainly wasn't.

@Amol @Harsh @Jitesh Obviously, I don't think people should stop laughing when they feel like it. I just wonder what it about profanity that makes them behave so immaturely - laugh out so loud, retort to the profanity, etc.

@Abhinav ouch!

@raaj you write about story and screenplay for what was shown. It was intentionally broken into two parts, so there had to be some logic behind it. I commented on what I saw thus far.


Sorry, that was a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out, Sunil! Fixed.

shweta dhamija:

Good movie I liked it...

Ehinome Okojie:

An over-rated film, despite wanna be good performances, i wold score it 2.3/5
If viwers can criticise masla, why cant viewers criticise non-masala.

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