Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gangs of Wasseypur II (2012)

While watching Wasseypur, I often found myself trying to fit its characters into the world of Godfather. Puzo and Coppola's work is so rich and perfect that every mafia family movie taking even the slightest inspiration immediately gets compared to the classic. Most movies have succumbed to this and a few have managed to survive. Nayakan, Devar Magan, Raajneeti and Sarkar come to mind. Raajneeti was unabashedly Godfather-esque, drew inspiration from Mahabharat and Indian political history, but with loads of masala. All these movies have only increased my admiration for my favorite movie of all time. The issue is characters keep switching roles, which may be a good thing. Sardar's death is reminiscent of Sonny's, but then Dhanish shows his shades. At one point of time Sardar appeared like Michael, but then Faizal turned into one. Ageing Ramadhir curiously resembled Vito before finally taking his place as Don Cicci.. the list goes on. Wassepur's success lies in the fact that it offers a sprawling epic that still manages to appear honest, original and realistic. 

Cinema forms this story's backbone. Ramadhir, while telling Shamshad how he managed to survive so long as all his foes kept dying, says everyone in India is caught in an illusion with movies. Jab tak Hindustan mein cinema rahega, tab tak log chutiya bante rahenge. The truth in that line resonates loudly as Kashyap mocks himself. The Indian masses are extremely impressionable and I personally blame cinema for increase in rape in India. Faizal thinks of himself as Amitabh Bachchan of the family but later realizes he's actually a Shashi kapoor. His younger brother Perpendicular is obsessed with Sanjay Dutt and his half-brother Definite is a Salman Khan knock off with a Tere Naam haircut. Like in Part I, the passage of time is signified using movie posters, with ringtones adding to it. 

Many people criticized the lack of urgency in part I which had Sardar savoring his moments troubling Ramadhir. After his passing, his sons have picked up the baton; the Pandavs fighting Ramadhir's metaphorical Kauravas. Luckily for Sardar, the apples didn't fall far from the tree. Each son seemed to have a penchant for the old ultraviolence. New characters came and went altering the course of the story but the goal remained the same: Ramadhir ki keh ke lena. In spite of everything, Wasseypur has always been a threesome, also involving the Qureshi family. Like part I, this one too felt like it was all over the place giving no clear idea of where things were heading. We always knew what was ultimately going to happen. Kashyap could have ended it anywhere he wished to. He only had to tie the loose ends. But he kept going on and on introducing new characters till the very end. My absurdly full bladder is partially to blame, but I kept hoping it would end soon. 

We are told that Faizal is the reluctant son who got dragged into this feud, but I never got that impression from him. When he breaks down to his wife, I didn't understand his regret. Perpendicular and Definite's bet seems so pointless. On the other hand, Definite's first failed attempt to kill Shamshad, another one involving Sultan and bananas, the continuation of the opening scene, the final shoot-down were amazing scenes. It's these flashes of genius that manage to pull your attention back after all the meanderings. Like Hithesh said, Kashyap is so deeply in love with his baby that he kept going on and on. Did it really need to be so long? The 5 hour version may show a different picture but I don't think I have it in me to sit through this saga again.