Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mind the gaps: conflicting thoughts on Gangs of Wasseypur

Much of the conversation around Anurag Kashyap’s multi-generational gangland epic Gangs of Wasseypur has centred on authenticity (or its absence). Some of the negative criticism has been based on pre-release publicity that appeared to flag GoW as a grittily realistic film with its roots firmly in the hinterland. I’ll avoid getting into that particular argument because I know nothing about the real Wasseypur, about its violent history and about when its young people first discovered the special pleasures of sunglasses – but also because “authenticity” and “realism” in cinema are always ambiguous things. I find it more useful to consider another level of reality – the one involving the creation of an internally consistent world. Given that GoW is a family epic involving layers of personal tragedy, I was perplexed by its wildly shifting tone, which made it difficult (for me at least) to feel strongly invested in its people.

In what is essentially a single five-and-a-half-hour film (released in two parts), it’s strange how little attempt there is at sustained character development. Partly, that’s because of the sheer size of the canvas – perhaps as big as any Hindi film has ever had. The narrative, with its panoply of characters, spans six decades, and the use of a voiceover (by Piyush Mishra’s sutradhaar Farhan) facilitates a speedy recording of events: courtships are hurriedly conducted, children are born, they grow up and we learn all the essential things about them in a few minutes (or seconds); vignettes flash by in the time it takes for a revolver to be cocked. Colourful characters (like an adolescent thug with a speech impediment and the nickname Perpendicular) hold the screen briefly and then exit, the main purpose of their existence being to amuse the viewer. Which in itself is fine (the totla Perpendicular’s mangling of cuss words - bhen tod - provides a superb laugh-out-loud moment), but it can become problematic if they divide the film’s running time among themselves in such a way that one doesn’t get to spend enough time with the principal characters.

Consequently Gangs of Wasseypur can be a confounding film to watch. There are so many brilliant things in it (and regardless of everything I say here, I look forward to watching Part I and Part II back to back on DVD at some point). There are the performances, notably by Manoj Bajpai, Richa Chadda, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and especially the film’s co-writer Zeishan Qadri in an (ahem) author-backed part as the imperturbable Definite. There is Sneha Khanwalkar’s versatile music score, ranging from the 1940s-style ballad “Ik Bagal” (written by the multitalented Mishra) to the reggae-hippie song “I am a Hunter” (which incorporates elements from Trinidadian music with what sounds – to my ears – like a hint of the classic children’s song “Nani teri morni”).

In Part II the music becomes noisily contrapuntal, and by this point the film in general is defined by constantly clashing tones. Many of the darkest scenes are treated with humour, occasionally to the point of inappropriateness (so that it’s common to find audience members laughing during moments of extreme violence, as they would during a Tom and Jerry cartoon). Admittedly, some of the little touches of levity are well done. When a sleeping (and probably ganja-addled) Faisal Khan is told that his father has been killed, he jumps off the charpoy and dashes down a stairway and out of the frame, looking very much the purposeful hero about to assume a responsibility – but a second later he scampers back awkwardly because he has forgotten to put on his shoes. It’s a nice touch – a pointer to the mundane things that can interfere with the playing out of the dramatic “scenes” in our lives, and the kind of shot one wouldn’t see in the Bachchan-starrer Trishul, which Faisal is so obsessed with. (More about that in this post.)

A notable thing about GoW is how its characters are influenced by cinema, and there is explicit commentary on this in one of the rare quiet scenes in Part II where the ancient Ramadhir Singh (looking increasingly like the old Don Ciccio, destined to be cleanly gutted by De Niro’s Vito Corleone near the end of The Godfather Part II) mulls that one reason he has stayed alive for so long is “kyonke main cinema nahin dekhta” – he has never been swayed by the flair and the heroics he sees onscreen, played out over the decades by generations of movie stars from Dilip Kumar through “Bachchan Amitabh” to Salman Khan. Elsewhere, there is much evidence of personalities and relationships shaped by celluloid dreams, such as when Mohsina (Huma Qureshi) sees that Faisal has come to her house to ask for her hand in marriage, and reacts by pirouetting dreamily in slow-motion the way Madhuri Dixit might have done in a less self-conscious film of an earlier age. These scenes are notable as meta-commentary about a people’s connection with their cinema, but it also means that most of the characters in Gangs of Wasseypur are about as fleshed out as movie-star posters.

The strongest emotional response I had to any killing in the film was when the imperial, dignified Shahid Khan is assassinated in Varanasi relatively early in Part I. And after watching Part II, just because of that “main cinema nahin dekhta” scene, I came away feeling like Ramadhir Singh was the character I knew best in the entire film. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that both these moments involve members of the old guard – people whose heyday takes place very early in this epic story. This could be tied to the idea that there was a certain intrinsic honour in the earlier generations, even a rationale for violence, and that the younger lot – culminating in the amoral Perpendicular and the opportunistic Definite – have lost that grounding; nihilism has set in.

Caught between these two worlds is the Faisal Khan character, who might be called GoW's protagonist. The role is well-performed and Faisal’s initial trajectory recalls Michael Corleone in The Godfather – the innocent sucked into a vortex of crime. Indeed he even has a scene late in the second part where he cries in his wife’s arms about how he didn’t want to have anything to do with this violent life. Yet there’s something random about this scene: it comes out of nowhere, feels psychologically improbable given how far gone Faisal is by this point (besides, if he was initially unwilling, it was probably because he was immersed in ganja, not because of any moral compulsions) and I thought it existed only to give us a reason to feel sorry for Faisal in light of what will happen later. In any case this pathos-filled moment is soon rendered meaningless: the grim bloodbath that Faisal engages in at the end doesn’t suggest someone who was ever a reluctant participant – this is killing for the fun of it, pure bloodlust combined with a boy’s fantasy of cornering his mortal enemy in a no-escape position and emptying round after round into his body.

The outlandish, cartoon violence of that final sequence – blood rendered shinily aesthetic, so that Ramadhir Singh’s ravaged corpse looks like it is studded with rubies – is a reminder that the film has stopped taking any of these killings seriously. Earlier, when the young widow Shama is shot dead in the Khan clan's house, the voiceover quickly tells us that this has come as a big shock to everyone because it’s the first time ever that a woman has been killed thus during the gang wars; cut to a very brief shot of Faisal sitting by himself, looking despondent, and then everyone gets back to the business of revenge and the business of business. A little while later, Faisal’s mother – a key character – is gunned down in the market, and this again is glossed over. And once you have heard faux-maudlin versions of Hindi-film songs like “Teri Meherbaniyan” being played alongside what are mean to be genuinely sad scenes (a family weeping over a young son’s body), it’s hard to take any of the emotions at face value. Gangs of Wasseypur encourages the viewer to chuckle at its violence and at the mourning that follows it, but also wants us to feel strongly enough about the main characters that there is a sense of genuine tragedy in the last act (and the last scene, which returns us to the plaintive “Ik Bagal”). Possibly this is my failing, but – much as I enjoyed many things about this epic film – I couldn’t muster both feelings at once.

29 comments:

  1. A spoiler warning would be appreciated.... even if it should be blatantly obvious to your readers that there are spoilers - not everyone has seen Pt 2 yet. Sigh.

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  2. Anon: have added one now. Figured I didn't have to because the post title does say "thoughts on...", which indicates the sort of analysis that it's difficult to do in a spoiler-free review

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  3. http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2915/stories/20120810291510000.htm

    [It gives (false) hope to the poor to see a man like Sardar Khan, who has risen from among them, overcome and terrorise all upper-class, upper-caste opposition, symbolised by the equally villainous Ramadhar Singh, who earlier controlled the economic and, therefore, political life in the region. The middle-class people, with their stomachs full and with money to spend even in these times of high inflation, are titillated by a character like Sardar Khan and the tale he inspires. In a perverse way, Sardar Khan makes them feel good! Gangs of Wasseypur manages to kill two birds with one stone.]

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  4. A good part of your review talks about how the more serious and tragic scenes weren't given their due. Well, what you might not be knowing is that they still are very real. Songs like 'teri meherbaniyan' are sung on such occasions and by similar characters as shown in the movie. What you have not focused on are various other scenes where AK has displayed amazing eye for detail...Will just list down a few:
    1. The dog in the scene where Sultan is running away and hides near a garbage bin...i think it was a brilliant moment
    2. Ramadhir singh using the glasses like a magnifying glass to see the number on his mobile phone
    3. Definite's gun getting stuck at Shamshad's house
    4. The scene where Faizal expresses his desire for sex while Sama is watching "Maang meri Bharo"
    The movie is full of moments of brilliance..
    And the dark humor is deliberate and it doesn't aim at making the viewer develop two types of feelings but at making him wonder at the irony called real life

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  5. What you have not focused on are various other scenes where AK has displayed amazing eye for detail...

    Gajabkhopdi: I clearly stated that GoW has many brilliant things in it, and then mentioned a couple of the more general ones (along with mentioning that it's a film I look forward to seeing again on DVD). I agree that all the scenes you list here were very well done - as are many others - but did you expect me to recount everything I liked about the film in this space?

    I certainly have no problem with dark humour - it's one of my very favourite modes of artistic expression. And like I mentioned, some of the darkly funny scenes in GoW did work for me. No issue either with commenting in a detached way on the irony of real life. But I did feel the film was occasionally untrue to itself and it characters, as in the unconvincing scene where Faisal breaks down. And that the viewer was required to feel contradictory things purely at the film's convenience (at times we are simply expected to respond a certain way in one scene and then another completely different way in the next scene, and these responses are not built organically).

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  6. I've unfortunately not seen either part of GOW, but in response to the 'authenticity' debate, I had written this a couple of weeks ago: http://deepti-five-feet-under.blogspot.in/2012/07/would-you-like-some-realism.html

    The question of reality in cinema has long been a favorite subject of mine.

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  7. Agree with you on most things. The second part is definitely much weaker compared to the first. (of course, it can be argued that it is one film but I am not so sure, 5.5 hours and all that). And this is mostly in terms of character development and humor overuse in 2nd part that you talk about. I found that set karo ji lullaby quite grating and it was overused!

    The dark humor laden violence did not work as well in Part 2 as it did in Part 1. The endless shooting back to back didn't help either. But about the nihilism part, don't you think that in itself was organic between Part 1 and 2? These kids themselves have grown up in these parts and within these gangs. It's natural that this gang produced a kid like Perpendicular (he is a kid right?!). They have no engagement as such with the past, in a serious way like Sardar Khan had. They only know mindless killings and they simply count themselves as the next inline and to be even better (or worse?) than their predecessors. It boils down to pointlessness I thought.

    I loved how Kashyap's filmmaking has come through here. The Sonny Corloene tribute, the super funny chase sequence - that culminates brilliantly in Sultan's murder - reminded me heavily of Black Friday constable chase, the tracking shot following the storming of Khan household, which loops back to GoW first scene. These were my takeaways from the two films and in totality, I must say Kashyap has achieved something quite remarkable and worthy of revisits.

    Apologies if nothing made sense, I just wrote down my immediate thoughts post watching film!

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  8. about the nihilism part, don't you think that in itself was organic between Part 1 and 2?

    Gradwolf: yes, I did try to indicate that in the post - that part of the point could be that the current generation is playing the same actions out mechanically, without an appreciation of context. I really do think I need to see both parts together at some point though! Have forgotten so much about the first part.

    Agree about Kashyap's filmmaking. I'd rather see a turkey made by him than a moderately good film made by most other directors. And GoW definitely isn't a turkey.

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  9. Thank God for your 'Naani teri Morni ko Mor le gaye' observation.. I thought it was just me.. and was going nuts

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  10. A marxist teacher once told us this against the Naxalite ideology, "violence has it's own ideology. Once you take up the gun, you couldn't always control it's flow. It takes it's own course." And when I was watching GOW back to back at Osians, I was reminded by this time and again.

    There is a sharp difference between the principle characters in part one and part two as you mentioned. But to my opinion, it's intentional. There was a sense of purpose, and a deep rooted helplessness in the violence committed by Shahid Khan, which goes completely lost at the time we reach later generations in the film. And yes, that weeping scene in the end by faizal looks unfit, but you can also read that as the last remaining sign of that uncomfortable helplessness which Shahid Khan's violent acts had, and what we lost somewhere in between.

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  11. the weeping of faizal was the one scene in the film which made me laugh out the hardest.it was obvious that it has been put deliberately by anurag.
    it showed the futility of rona dhona before the compulsions of violence.
    the dialogues he uttered while weeping were the usual claptrap bollywood characters in crisis have been mouthing since time immemorial and thus the myth of hamlet lives on.
    in that one single scene anurag subverted all the crisis/catharsis/chutiyapa....the drama loving audience love to consume as emotional porn.
    another scene which u must have found inappropriate was when huma comes to meet faizal in jail and sings the black humorous frustiyao nahi moora to inspire him.
    this was again done to achieve the same end....all the talk of inspiring someone bollywood style by something as bogus as hot air(words).....is bunkum.
    one comes across such things only in films.
    how many real life dons cry in real life at the injustice of their situation?
    how many wives of these dons mouth inspiring dramaesque words when they come to meet him in jail?
    the film is a relentless subversion of bollywoodism and melodrama.

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  12. Anjali: that's an interesting perspective - that Faisal's weeping scene was just as much of a filmi meta-reference as those earlier scenes of him and Mohsina and the fooling around with the cigarette and the new car. But even if the film expects us to respond to this moment with amused detachment, the fact is that within the narrative this character IS crying, and that wasn't convincing to me in terms of the narrative's development. (Unless - and this could be another intriguing way of looking at it - Faisal himself is doing a bit of play-acting in that scene; not expressing genuine, heartfelt emotion but simply doing something that he fancies a "tragic hero" from a dramatic film should do at this point. Interpreted that way, it would make GoW more tonally convincing to me - it would be easier to see it as one giant Bollywood subversion rather than a story about characters who have an autonomous existence.)

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  13. Faisal's weeping scene was a filmi meta reference and your take: "Faisal himself is doing a bit of play-acting in that scene; not expressing genuine, heartfelt emotion but simply doing something that he fancies a "tragic hero" from a dramatic film should do at this point."
    this take is a typical example of filmi meta reference....how films influences life.so we r both saying the same thing.
    but when you say that faizal is play acting and not expressing GENUINE/HEART FELT emotions...you are falling into the trap of thinking that there is something called genuine and heartfelt(heroic)inside our minds.the fact is that there is nothing.the reality is that there is no such thing of that sort...its all hullabaloo,sound and fury.Kashyap in real life has gone through all types of self pity to come to this disenchanted conclusion which he translates on screen.
    thus ur last sentence that:"it would be easier to see it as one giant Bollywood subversion RATHER than a story about characters who have an autonomous existence."..is not consistent.
    in fact the best way to create a bollywood subversion is by telling the story about characters who have an autonomous existence without the trappings of melodrama....which kashyap has achieved in this film.

    to give an example: in the film 127 hours...the survival story has been robbed of everything genuine,heartfelt and heroic.a normal survival story can easily lapse into the trap of heroic which the audience would love to lap.but danny has been unflinching in showing the irony of the protagonist's situation.
    similarly kashyap has achieved his subversion....and the biting irony at the cost of genuine/heartfelt is what makes the story realistic(like in 127 hours). Terms like genuine and heartfelt for kashyap are jokes to laugh at.
    very much like that song "always look at the bright side of life"...is bristling with irony under the pretext of an inspiring song.

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  14. Terms like genuine and heartfelt for kashyap are jokes to laugh at.

    Possibly. But that doesn't mean anyone else is obliged to laugh at them, or to think of such a view as the only valid one. And nothing personal intended here, but statements that begin "the reality is that..." and "you are falling into the trap of thinking..." are neither here nor there. Let's stick to clarifying our viewpoints as best as we can, and then ending the discussion if it seems like there is a fundamental difference in perspective/interpretation (as I think there might be in this case). In any case, trying to make an "objective", unanswerable case for a movie (even a Citizen Kane) is something no one has ever succeeded in doing.

    Btw, I wrote here about that great chase scene in Black Friday, which I thought was a superb example in Kashyap's cinema (and there are other such examples) of levity/banality being beautifully incorporated into a moment that seems, on the face of it, to be grandly dramatic. GoW certainly had a few such moments that were very effective.

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  15. I am a great admirer of your reviews sir.
    and i accept gow is somewhat flawed and not as honest and its black humor as integrated within the context as in the chase scene in black friday.
    i tend to get over the top ..sorry.
    just wanted to express my fragile pov...and i acknowledge the fundamental difference part between our respective povs.

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  16. Anjali: no problem - I think we agree that Kashyap's films deserve provocative and indepth analysis, even if we disagree on some specifics. Just to reiterate (in case my post comes across as more negative than I intended) - I look forward to watching the whole film again soon. And I've spent much of the last 2-3 nights listening to the GoW2 soundtrack on YouTube!

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  17. Many of the darkest scenes are treated with humour, occasionally to the point of inappropriateness
    Ah , couldn't agree more even though I haven't seen GOW 1 and 2. I always felt this to be a common presence in most if not all his movies and specially " girl in yellow boots" which has to be my least favorite Anurag Kashyap movie ever. The scene with Ruth and the Kannada gangster where she fools around with him and kind of manipulates him emotionally just to get rid of him , I found it extremely cringeworthy , even though some people might find it to be a great example of dark humor or black comedy.
    But then Gulaal has some extremely well crafted dark humor scenes specially the ones with Abhimanyu Singh . I would like to quote one of them , but I think I won't :).
    BTW , liked your first response to Anjali Singh's comment .

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  18. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the partha chatterjee piece. I disagree with him about a lot of things, and he's really facile about pop culture in general, but the sam peckinpah bit was pretty on point. even though he was more impressed by peckinpah's leftist bonafides than the actual filmmaking.

    i haven't seen the film yet, but this overly fetishized representation of the north indian heartland has long been favored in so called alternative bollywood films. I don't know if people are having the right conversation about this topic - I don't really care about authenticity, as much as I do about a less sensational depiction of the spirit of the truth. I feel the heartland is so epicly complex, Bihar especially, and all you hear about from there is permutations on the vicissitudes of the politico-criminal complex. I mean even feudal societies are more nuanced than such a simplistic portrayal would allow for. This I feel, is big city bias and a stereotyping of the provinces.

    In the US they do the same thing, esp with southern gothic - Beasts of the Southern Wild is so wildly popular because it feeds into the bias city slickers have for the beknighted sticks, without really making structural, historical analyses, or looking at, well, class.

    I'd love to read more comparisons about why english language reviewers have been so fawningly appreciative of the movie, while hindi reviewers overwhelmingly haven't.

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  19. My biggest problem was - except for a few sequences, I didn't feel anything deep down. As if Kashyap only wants to entertain but do NOTHING else.

    The long-shot of Faizal during the attack on his house felt like unwarranted indulgence (it's not my biggest grouse with the film, though).

    The Sultan killing sequence didn't work for me. The humour felt too forced (discussing jackfruit recipes in the middle of an assassination, really?).

    Iqlakh, like Perpendicular was a hastily written character and Faizal's trust in him was naive. However reluctant Faizal seemed in taking over the gang, he never seemed foolish.

    Agree with your points about Faizal's bloodlust. That regret scene felt like it was forced just to earn Faizal some sympathy before the climax. Boy, did he need sympathy! I was terrified not by the blood and guns, but by the look on Faizal's face, the joy he seemed to get from killing.

    But like you said, there was so much to admire and the fact that I am nitpicking will tell you how much I liked the rest of it :D

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  20. Hi, I just came back from seeing GOW-2, and I HAVEN'T seen GOW-1 so I'm looking at the second film as a standalone work. I agree that Faizal's crying does not work. It does not evoke sympathy. In fact, it made me think, "Ah! Anurag Kashyap is trying to be clever." But the film has several brilliant touches. The 'discussing jackfruit recipes in the middle of an assassination' was very funny, I thought, and I suppose Anurag's homage to the Pulp Fiction scene in which Jules and Vincent have the most irrelevant of conversations before a bloodbath. The bloodbath on the pot too reminded me of Vincent's violent death, but the over-the-top scene doesn't work very well in GOW-2 — you get immune to the freely flowing blood; the comic book violence (reminiscent of Desperado) in the entire hospital sequence jars, not because it's comic book but because of the sudden departure from how violence is depicted in the rest of the film. But there are many superb moments. To mention just one: when Faizal's family sits to watch Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, it suddenly becomes any other hopelessly middle class Indian family, and yet the violent reality of their lives is never far away and comes shockingly in focus as bombs and gunfire smash the quiet, domestic TV moment.

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  21. Reading this was as fun as watching the movie.
    Just one thing, Piyush Mishra is not Farhan but Nasir Ahmed.
    You can read my views about the music and the film here:
    http://thepuccacritic.blogspot.in/search/label/Gangs%20Of%20Wasseypur

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  22. So Indian cinema has come a full circle. Mainstream films regurgitate and rehash mainstream films.

    Non-mainstream films do the same...but the package includes "brilliant touches" to make it different and excellent!

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  23. Anup,You have succeded what you probably wanted to do.but let me assure you Piyush Mishra is Farhan.I did not have to check your blog out to do that.

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  24. Deb,
    Dont check my blog man. I have no where on my blog confirmed that he's Farhan. But many says he's Nasir. Just a confusion as he was no where introduced properly in the film.

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  25. 'Gangs Of Wasseypur II' is the worst movie I've ever seen in my life.

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  26. "- it would be easier to see it as one giant Bollywood subversion"

    I liked GOW2 more than GOW1 and it was largely due to this "subversion mindfuck". I did not feel like analyzing/deconstructing it while I was watching it=so I guess I did not feel any tonal unevenness and every choice worked for me, unequivocally. I can think of a few good reasons the director may have chosen to put them in, one of them , can sure be Bollywood Subversion.
    But the more important point that Jai had raised , is that whether it is consistent with the development of the narrative, or the character arc.

    "Faisal himself is doing a bit of play-acting in that scene; not expressing genuine, heartfelt emotion but simply doing something that he fancies a "tragic hero" from a dramatic film should do at this point."

    In my opinion, Bollywood is an integral part of the lives of the gangsters- real life gangsters, not bollywood gangsters. They think of themselves as (This particular topic has been dealt beautifully by Robrerto Saviano in his book Gomorrah) - So when we see a bollywood subversion being played out , it is not just an external-to-the-narrative choice made by the director , it is something that is intrinsic, organic and in fact, essential to the narrative, and to the lives of these characters. I do not see the amount of "film" in this film as a post modern choice, to create a meta movie for the purpose of mindfuck. I believe it is because these gangsters, who live the lives of assumed heroics, they draw a lot from Bollywood , and what we see as a subversion is metaphorically the so called "real-life" colliding with the "bollywood-life" that is playing in the minds of these gangsters.

    This particular motif has been repeated more than a few times in the movie- most notably by Ramadhir Singh. - "Jab tak india mein movie banegi log chutiya bante rahenge." He has a more realistic view of his life rather than say Faizal Khan who tries to draw from Bollywood for every occasion in his legendary-in-is-own-mind life. It may seem comical at times, but to me it is something that makes this whole universe more human and endearing.

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  27. I agree with the character development part , alteast in part 2 , I absolutely loved both parts , but part 2 seemed more rushed , I felt another 10 minutes of layering the characters emotions would have made it brilliant . but nevertheless one of the best movies ever made , I loved the climax for the fact that something like this has never been done in hindi cinema , and for the X-box generation , I appreciate the effort taken ino its development , a scene out a video game in a rustic film .. absolute brilliance . I liked your observation about Ramadhir singh , about violence having a motive , that now seems random and senseless

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  28. I am not a regular reader of your blog, so I won't come around to see whether this comment gets noticed or published. I agree that the Faizal khan regret scene didn't work as hoped, I think it should have been placed earlier in the movie, and it wouldn't have appeared amiss.
    As regards songs at funerals making the viewer laugh, it may be a consequence of the unfamiliarity of the cityfolk with the way of things in villages and towns. In those times when the film is set, such ill-performed versions of songs were part of funeral processions, and were meant to evoke wails and let out the grief. The maudlin performance is just Kashyap's attention to the manner in which small town bands perform these songs.
    Regarding the "bloodlust" prevalent in the movie, which the climactic scene, (wherein Ramadhir is shot,) is being called the archetype of, is not there merely for aesthetics or glorification, or even exaggeration. It is a re-enactment of a similar shooting which did occur somewhere (can't recall exactly, Kashyap mentioned this in some interview), where the shooter did actually shoot some 6-700 bullets on a person. Kashyap just used that incident for his climax, probably because he wanted to show the extent of the hatred, and the satisfaction of Faizal's revenge. So, I would argue that Kashyap has still tried to portray events, as close to reality as he knew it.
    Instead of marvelling at the level of disbelief that we think Kashyap expects of his audience to digest the violent scenes, we should be more surprised that such inhuman incidents did actually happen in real life, although in altogether different contexts

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  29. Ok first off, I loved the films, watched them back to back on DVD over a couple of days, watched the Making of GoW before that, and I loved every minute even when I was thinking, 'Yeh sab kya ho rahaa hai.'
    Jai, I think the yardstick for this film is not internal consistence but American saga films like How the West Was Won, Giant (or may be I mean Cimarron or Saratoga Trunk--they have turned into one film in my memory) or even Gone With the Wind. Time passes in great leaps; some characters vanish; some change utterly and without explanation yet we accept their avatars because we know the history within which the change takes place. Its a sort of expanded comic book stye of narrating history, through pictures and broad firm outlines.
    The wonder of GoW is the solidity of the illusion through details such as you and other commentator on this blog have mentioned. My greatest grouch is that towards the end many of the characters began to look like each other which in a fast paced film became very confusing. There could have been more visual separation through how they dressed or did their hair.
    Thanks for this post.

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