Gangs of Wasseypur II delivers on the promise of being a quirky revenge saga. A saga which holds no bars and lets loose the internal animal which revenge itself seems to have given birth to. A saga so full of characters that a keen film-lover would want to watch twice – only if they can stomach the violence in almost every frame and profanity in every other sentence. Others, shouldn't even bother.
Disclaimer: This review assumes you have watched part I. It might contain comments that refer to event of the previous film.
A movie that uses a strong, scheming woman, who has very little to do in the rest of the film, as bookends - almost as if she was given the honor of holding the story together. A movie that uses humor provided by a local brass band singer as a leitmotif to mark all significant events – morose or celebratory. Gangs of Wasseypur II is a movie that engages you in its quirkiness because that quirkiness still has bearings with what is real. A fusion of sorts between grit of a village in Jharkhand and pulp-film style whackiness.
Gangs of Wasseypur II is as much about these seemingly insignificant characters as it is about its revenge-driven protagonists and the looming theme of the futility of violence. The smaller characters add flavor and ambiance to the brutal environment they are trying to thrive in. The main players of Wasseypur, Faisal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) keep you wondering about their next move. We know their motivations, yet we are unsure if and when they will strike.
It is macho to the core. The women too have an undying fire in the belly. Though they don't take matters in their own hands, but they surely don't stress over sending their sons to war. The ruthlessness in the violence is just something else. Some scenes are so gruesome as if compensating for the few that didn't feature violence.
Yet, none of it seems misplaced or overdone. A character who has gone through what he has gone through, with those motivations is bound to react with that ferocity. Only that, almost all characters share the same love for hardcore violence, so a viewer who has reservations against blood and gore might do well outside the theater. For others, though it is a release for the latent anger, vicarious as it may be.
So much so that, every time someone from Ramadhir Singh's gang is killed, you can sense the success in the audience. The bigger the player taken down, the stronger the sense of victory. Which is amusing too. Because the good guys aren't really good either, right? They are murderers, black marketeers, and brutal ones too. A doped-out good-for-nothing son of a goon, turns into a goon. So?
What is it then that the audience is rooting for? This question bothered me quite a bit because I knew not why I am rooting for these barbarous slayers. And the slight difference emerged - their motivations. The loyalty of the Khans to their main purpose versus the political and convoluted reasons of Singh's men. In fact, Faisal is even caught introspecting on why and how he got dragged into it all. He reflects on his personal dreams. And this is where all the Bollywood references fit in. As amusing as they might seem, they point at the unachieved dreams of the masses.
Moments and situations like these and the grounded feeling the whole film carries is what make me ignore the two main grouses I have against Gangs of Wasseypur II. The choice of narration – it reads like a book, chapter-wise, without smooth flow. If it weren't for Piyush Mishra's voice and tone, the voice-over would seem never-ending. It felt like the story was in constant exposition, especially when the voice-over continues the second half. That new characters and themes are still being introduced post-interval didn't help either.
The other complaint goes with my complaint against part 1 – it is not a stand alone film. I would have much rather seen the two parts as one and enjoyed it as one story. By watching it in two parts, both films feel incomplete. But, I guess commercial needs take precedence over my preferences. :)
Otherwise the film leaves no room for complaint. Once again to name one actor as having done exemplary work would be unfair. The women in Anurag Kashyap films always stand-out. Not only for the character accorded to them and their strength but also for the unique sensuality he has them bring out.
Similarly, to say an Anurag Kashyap film had awesome lighting, camerawork, sound, background score would be making a redundant statement. Also, something about the way Anurag Kashyap uses his music keeps you involved. Many a time, it makes very little sense (at least on first watch) but I still enjoy it. And for that I love it – making me enjoy something I don't understand.
Does it glorify violence? Maybe. It uses it brilliantly for sure, especially to bring the narrative to crescendo in the climax. Maybe, it exhibits the vanity of violence by using it paradoxically.
If a gang-war film needs to be made, this is the way to do it. Else of course, we watch Godfather, Pulp fiction, read the Mahabharata. But hey, why not try all three-in-one. Oh actually, make that three-in-two. But like anything that is a combination, it won't compare favorably to any one of those by itself. But is a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
- meetu, a part of the audience
Not for kids, for sure.
- Violence: We can most likely count the number of non-violent scenes in the film.
- Language: Full of profanity.
- Nudity & Sexual content: A bar dance. Mention of and references to sex.
- Concept: The futility of revenge.
- General Look and Feel: Gritty and rustic.
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