(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 12 August, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/a-bloodthirsty-round-2)
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Piyush Mishra, Huma Qureshi, Richa Chadda and others
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Rating: 4 stars
There’s something about stylised violence that is almost poetic. And something about Nawazuddin Siddiqui that makes him the perfect tragic hero. His force of personality, so in contrast with his diminutive frame, gives him a fearsome appearance even at his most vulnerable. His smouldering eyes offset the nasal voice. He’s waited long years for a movie that does his acting skills justice, and inGangs of Wasseypur 2, he finds his stage.
From flipping cigarettes to impress his crush Mohsina (Huma Qureshi), to casually shooting dead a garrulous sidekick, Siddiqui slides neatly into the shoes of Faizal, the drug-addicted, temperamental, disturbed younger son of Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee). As Sardar’s story ends, those of his five sons begin.
The film is as quirky as its characters – one of whom has a penchant for flipping a razor blade about with his tongue, quite like chewing gum. It makes us laugh during its saddest moments, and syncs itself to music that’s almost always discordant in mood with the situation. A band party and the histrionics of its lead singer become a running gag.
That brings me to how nicely even the small roles are executed – Rajkumar Yadav, who plays Shamshad Alam, and Vineet Singh, who plays Danish Khan, live their parts in their limited screen time. The rustic accents of the actors are mostly spot-on, with only occasional slips into sophisticated plosives.
If the first film told a story through characters, the second edition creates characters to suit its eccentric storyline. Practically everyone here is a bloodthirsty goon. Its primary antagonist Sultan Khan (Pankaj Tripathi) lacks the menace of Ramadhir (Tigmanshu Dhulia), but he makes up for it with aggression. Huma Qureshi holds her own in a role that is modelled on, well, all of Al Pacino’s screen wives.
The rather facetious humour derives mostly from the idiocy of the characters and the impeccable timing of the actors. The film finds subtle ways to reinforce its small-town setting, from the ringtones of the characters, to their obsession with Bollywood (which also serves as a timeline), to their fascination with the English language.
Perhaps because of the movie’s frenetic pace, there are a couple of drastic shifts in police-gangster relations that may jar. The film doesn’t have the time to show us how the legal system slowly tightened the noose on goondaism. But there is no excuse for the tacky graphics, which make the gore almost laughable.
The Verdict: Kashyap isn’t in the Tarantino territory yet, but the two-part Gangs of Wasseypur is undoubtedly the best Bollywood has produced in the relatively new genre of crime noir.