Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (2013)

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (2013)
Label: Cinelicious Pics
Region Code: A
Duration: 159 min (Part 1), 158 min (Part 2)
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: Hindi DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, Hindi PCM Audio 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.37:1) 
Director:  Anurag Kashyap
CastHuma Qureshi, Richa Chaddha, Satya Anand, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Mishra

Gangs of Wasseypur (2013) marks my first foray into any sort of Bollywood movie, for all my years of watching and loving foreign films not one Bollywood movie has happened across my path, not even one of those weird Mondo Macabro horror movies. 
Which might be my loss after having viewed this engrossing Indian crime saga, a movie laced with crime drama, nuanced moments of tenderness, and punctuated by a somewhat shocking amount of violence. The movie was directed by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and is now available through Cinelicious Pics on a gorgeous two-disc Blu-ray set. . 

The movie opens with a thrilling night time siege as armed men surround the palace home of a known crime figure, they properly thrash the home with a barrage of gunfire and grenades with the intention of killing anyone and everyone inside, thus opens a seriously fantastic crime film that spans seventy-years and three generation of gangsters in the city of Wasseypur, India.

Afterward a narrator explains the history of the town beginning in 1941 during an era of British Colonial rule, a time when train-robber Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) masqueraded as a well-known bandit, but when tribal leaders discover his deceit they banish him from the town Wasseypur. He and his wife move to the neighboring mine town of Dhanbad, where he Shahid finds employment working in a coal mine. A short time later his beloved wife dies giving birth to their only child, a son named Sardar. Shahid missed the birth because of his child and his wife's last moments because a guard at the mine would not let him leave, in retaliation he murders the guard. A few years later the British government relinquishes control over the area and the lucrative coal mines are sold to the corrupt industrialist Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), who hires Shahid as an enforcer at the mine, his vicious methods earn him a certain amount of fear-inspired respect among the community. 

However, as Shahid's power grows he begins to pose a threat to the rule of Ramadhir Singh, sensing the imposing threat the industrialist has him murdered, with further plans to also kill his son, who is rescued by Nasir, an assistant loyal to his father before. Unable to find the boy the assassin reports back to Ramadhir Singh that the boy has been murdered and buried, though in reality Nasir raises the boy in a neighboring village. When the boy arrives at a certain age he learns of the treachery of Ramadhir Singh  and swears bloody vengeance against the industrialist, vowing to keep his head shaved until he has avenged his father's death. 

Years pass by and Ramadhir Singh becomes a powerful crime boss masquerading as a politician and industrialist. A now mature Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) begins working for the Singh crime family, who do not yet realize that he is the son of the man that Ramadhir Singh murdered many years earlier. The truth of his lineage is revealed when a notable umbrella makes this point clear to all involved. This sets up the war between the families and when the drama begins to unfold before our eyes is magnetic. Not only is there a jarring amount violence and tension throughout, but there's some great drama in the life of Sardar, a horny man with two wives and several children between them. As Sardur and Singh each rise to power both are feared and respected in the community, with Sardur becoming the more feared of the two, which motivates Singh to assassinate the crime boss before he becomes more of a threat. Manoj Bajpai is captivating in every scene, such an intense looking man with piercing eyes, you can feel the intensity through the screen, his story was far and away my favorite of the bunch, but the story as a whole and the arcs of each of the characters are great, no one is give short shrift. 

At this point we are only in 1980s and this epic blood feud lasts through the 2000s, the scope of this is just epic and so too is the run time, the movie clocks in at over five and half hours and it's a marathon of violent crime cinema, but the story is so damn engrossing that you will dread the end of the story. After the not unexpected fall of Sadar we follow the rise and fall of his three sons, particularly that of Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a stoner for most of the film following a traumatic childhood experience, he is forever seen puffing away on his drug of choice lost in a haze of smoke, he seemed an unlikely choice to succeed the thrown of his father but his story is edge of your seat fantastic, not since the Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy has a crime saga been so deftly executed, a story nuanced with interesting characters and surprising moments of subtlety and violence. 

This is no horror story but the violence punctuates the picture frequently, the bullets fly fast and furious, as do the physical punishments visited upon the characters, with a steady supply of grisly beheadings, castration and a myriad of blunt force trauma. 

Audio/Video: The movie arrives on Blu-ray in North America from Cinelicious Pics and looks amazing. The two part movie is spread out over two Blu-ray discs with a highly detailed HD image loaded with vibrant Indian colors, the gorgeous cinematography is mesmerizing. 

The Hindi language DTS-HD MA 5.1 sounds superb, the musical numbers are great, and I thank the Lord for subtitling, or I might never have known how damn fun, kinky and violent the lyrics were. There's plenty of surround sound action with the various gunshots, explosions and rain storms coming in through the surrounds with pleasing clarity, this is a fantastic Blu-ray release with a great A/V presentation. 

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary which is 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, plus a trailer for the film and a 12-page Booklet with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra which added a lot of context to the movie for me, having no background in Indian cinema I found this very informative.  

Special Features: 

 - Audio Commentary 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
- Official Trailer (2 Min) 
- 12-page Booket with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra

This is a fascinating watch, the scale crime epic is massive on all accounts, both in the depth of the characters and in the duration of the movie. I came into this one completely blind I was blown away from the first frame to the last, this is an outstanding movie on all fronts. It might sound strange to say, but the scale of the movie is so grand and the depth of the characters so deep, that I am looking forward to re watching this one, it might require a few viewings to fully appreciate the scope and depth of it. 4/5

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