This movie belongs to Anurag Kashyap but Tigmanshu Dhulia walks away with the accolades. Those who have worked with Dhulia narrate how he enacts every scene, the way he sees the character, before canning the shot. Making his acting debut after showing his finesse behind the camera, Dhulia's performance is a lesson in motion. Even his slightest body movement, speaks a thousand words. As Ramadhir Singh, around who the story revolves, Tigmanshu steals the thunder and everything else along with it.
GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is buried in the heartland of Bihar from where emerge a melange of characters that define Kashyap's latest caper which encompasses pre-independence days as well, up until the 1990s. To have a grip on a story on paper is one thing, to translate it into a visual with every nuance weighed delicately and executed with finesse takes class of another level. Kashyap goes deep into every character, defining motives and giving a make-over to their persona apart from setting the locales to the 'T'. Not a single character is out of sync.
Cinematographer Rajeev Ravi along with Subodh Srivastava (costume designer) and G V Prakash (background score) provides the necessary impetus that makes GOW the film that it is. The delicate influence of Bollywood is a smart layer which Kashyap uses to telling effect. Yashpal Sharma is known to terrorize, but Kashyap gives this actor a microphone, two back-up musicians and has him miming Salaam-E-Ishq from DEWAAR in a falsetto tone that brings the house down.
Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat, powerful performance) loots trains under the cover of darkness impersonating the legendary Sultana Daku. There's pandemonium in the Muslim community when they realize this. He is asked to leave the village by the elders being promised his share of the loot. Here, he works in Ramadhir Singh's quarry. He soon rises to the rank of being his trusted lieutenant but is killed when Ramadhir learns he has ambitions of taking over. Ramadhir sends his goons to finish off Shahid's son and uncle. However, they manage to escape.
Twenty years later, Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) is the new terror in Wasseypur. As a young kid, after losing his father, he shaves off his head promising never to grow his hair until he avenges his father's death. He does not want to kill Ramadhir, but slowly, make him impotent by infiltrating into his domain. That defines Sardar's motive for living and his lust for life.
Bajpayee cocoons himself in the comfort of his powerful character to explode with yet another hard-hitting performance. As a man on a mission, he plots his moves; but as a husband who has a roving eye, he fails miserably in parenting, leaving his wife and three kids to fend for themselves while taking care of another woman (Reema Sen) with who he has another child. This is one mad-cap ride.
Richa Chadda as Bajpayee's wife is terrific in her portrayal as a spouse who sides with her husband's mission to get even. She shows her true emotions when he goes astray and feels the need of a man. Watch the scene when she lets her guard down with Sardar's uncle. This is witnessed by her younger son who then goes into a shell.
Reema Sen as the Bengali who gives in to Sardar's advances and then lives with him is impressive. Making her Bollywood debut over 10 years ago, she finally gets to dig her teeth in a meaty role which she does with aplomb.
While the beginning and end and most of everything in between is gripping, Kashyap goes overboard in throwing in to many elements which unnecessary lengthen the film, taking away the 'impact' he would have so desired. For one, the scene where Sardar's youngest son is romancing a girl and also the scene in a theatre are unnecessary intrusions to the crisp narrative.
Considering it's a complex film, handling the moods of his different characters would have taken a lot from Kashyap. He gives a 'close to reality' dose of cinema without taking the crude layer off.