• Gangs Of Wasseypur



    Released by: Cinelicious Pics
    Released on: July 14th, 2015.
    Director: Anurag Kashyap
    Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat, Nawazuddin Siddiqu, Manoj Bajpayee, Piyush Mishra, Jameel Khan
    Year: 2012
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Anurag Kashyap, 2012’s Gangs Of Wasseypur is an epic crime drama that spans three generations, six decades and five and a half hours of running time. The film opens with a remarkable scene in which a group of men armed with AK-47s sneak through the dimly lit streets and encroach on the home of Faizal Khan with one intention – kill him and anyone else who gets in their way. They see their target and they open fire.

    Cut to 1941, an era in which the British occupiers previously running the show in India are pulling back. Here we meet a man named Ramadhir Singh (Rajat Bhagat) who runs a coal mine. He mistreats the men he employs, the most obvious example being when his ‘musclemen’ prohibit Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) from leaving to attend to his wife as she gives birth. He gets back and finds she’s passed away, but he does at least have a healthy son. Shahid’s moxy earns him a spot as Ramdhir’s top enforcer but as he quickly climbs the ranks and looks to be able to usurp power from him, he has him killed, unaware that the son has been spared.

    That son grows up to be Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) and since birth he’s had one thing on his mind – avenge his father’s murder. He grows in power by taking out various members of Singh’s crew, getting ever closer to his target and making quite a name for himself as he does it. Of course, violence begets violence and things can’t end well for Sardar but before the inevitable occurs, he sires four kids with two different women: Danish (Vineet Singh), Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Perpendicular (Aditya Kumar) and Definite (Zeishan Quadri).

    Of course, this third generation of Khan’s grows up, and the feud with the Singh clan continues, but alliances, marriages and betrayals will of course all play a huge part in how, or even if, this can all be resolved.

    A complex (though not complicated) multi-layered story in which the sins of the father are passed on from generation to generation, Gangs Of Wasseypur is a dark and often times surprisingly violent film that drives head first into some very dark territory. At over five hours in length (the movie is presented in two parts but is intended to be viewed as a single film), you’d think that Kashyap might lose control of things but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the unusually long running length the movie never feels bloated and in fact, the characters are so well written and acted here that when it’s all over and done with you can’t help but be left wanting more. Kashyap’s obvious love of cinema and Bollywood cinema in particular is evident throughout the movie (clips from older movies are used as are songs and it’s impossible not to notice all of the old movie posters littering the walls of the streets) but at the same time he defies that industry’s expectations with this picture. At the same time, a slice of dialogue would seem to be telling in regards to his feelings on the Bollywood film industry and his place in it:

    “Every fucker's got his own movie playing inside his head. Every fucker is trying to become the hero of his imaginary film. As long as there are fucking movies in this country people will continue to be fooled.”

    Those expecting the song and dance numbers that are so often and easily associated with Bollywood films will notice that there aren’t any of those here. There are scenes that involve music and dance and in some of those scenes the music and dance is performed on screen but it’s always as part of the story – the movie doesn’t come to a halt here when it occurs and most of the time when it does happen it’s as part of the bigger picture, it’s something that’s going on in the background. It’s a clever idea and a way to deliver the music that’s such an integral part of Indian cinema without bringing the very serious narrative to a standstill when it’s called upon.

    The performances are strong across the entire cast. Each of the male characters in the film is a bit of a bastard in his own right, and while viewers will no doubt wind up liking some of them more than others, they’re all interesting and well written. Manoj Bajpayee, however, absolutely steals the show as the bald headed thug Sardar Khan. He plays the part with such absolute conviction and intensity that he’s mesmerizing when he’s onscreen. Vineet Singh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Danish and Faizal respectively are also excellent and it’s interesting to consider as the story unfolds just how and why the actions of Sardar and his wife and mistress have affected these younger men. This is a big part of what makes Gangs Of Wasseypur as intensely involving as it is, the character development is just really strong and well thought out.

    Kashyap directs the movie with plenty of style, using different locations to interesting effect depending on what period the movie is dealing with. He also works in a lot of interesting aspects of Indian culture (the roles of Islam and Hinduism being a key factor in certain scenes) and history into the storyline, and he does it with fantastic use of color and style. The camera work here is impressive – the action scenes are well choreographed and typically carry with them some earnest and genuine impact. Violence is a very real part of these characters lives and as such, it is depicted here very realistically. Contrasting with those scenes are some beautiful compositions that show showcase the locations. All of this, combined with the musical selections and compositions, the story, the characters, the acting, the editing – it all comes together to make for movie as impressive in scope and execution as it is firmly grounded in reality.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Gangs Of Wasseypur arrives on Blu-ray from Cinelicious in a very strong looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.39.1 widescreen on two 50GB discs. This is a pretty impressive looking image. There’s really strong detail throughout both parts of the movie and while things are definitely stylized in the way that the movie is colored, it’s not at the sacrifice of texture or fine detail. Colors look excellent here, though things are occasionally a bit hot looking (no doubt this is on purpose as it suits the tone of the movie really well) while skin tones look lifelike. Black levels are nice and deep and there are no problems to note with any compression artifacts. The movie looks great here.

    Hindi language audio tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and LPCM 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix is a pretty aggressive track, spreading out not only the score and the soundtrack but the effects as well, so when those shoot outs occur, they can get pretty enveloping. At the same time, the levels stay properly balanced throughout so the dialogue has good presence to it. There’s strong and impressive depth and a good low end here as well. There are a few minor typos in the English subtitles but outside of that, no complaints, things sound good.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary, conducted in English, with Director Anurag Kashyap, Actors Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, Composer Sneha Khanwalkar, Lyricist Varun Grover, Associate Director Anubhuti Kashyap, and Assistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan. This is a pretty busy talk that goes into a lot of detail as the participants talk over both parts of the movie. They cover the casting, the events that inspired the film, the locations and some of the challenges that arose on those locations, some of the themes that run throughout the movie, the extents that they had to go to in order to nail the period detail in the earlier parts of the movie and loads more.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Inside the case, along with the two Blu-ray discs, is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film from Aseem Chhabra that offers up some welcome insight into Anurag Kashyap’s career and the genesis of this particular entry in his filmography.
    The Final Word:

    Gangs Of Wasseypur is a gripping and mesmerizing crime film, it’s a huge story in scope but never more complicated than it needs to be. It’s stylish but not at the expense of substance and the performances are excellent across the board. The Blu-ray release from Cinelicious is a good one, offering up the movie with very strong audio, an excellent transfer and an informative commentary. Don’t let this one pass you by.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!