Gangs of Wasseypur: This world is alien for many who do not know their own Wasseypur

BY Ravish K. Chaudhary


Anurag’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” is a rapture, rapture in our narrative of Gangsters. It does not narrate a tale of two giants in conflict with each other. It tells us the blood soaked story of a society that exists (within our own cities/towns) in accordance with its own rules. It captures the very logic of the world that runs parallel, however uncovered within the official history and sociology of our society. The world that silently appears in our public sphere mutely interacts with our everydayness, silently but firmly assert its presence and dissolves in what appears mundane. The existentiality of its habitants doesn’t lie in its locality but in the psyche that stretches from Sultana Daku to faizal Khan. Narrated in the background of murky coal business, sprawling from British era to early nineties, the story tells us the saga of at least three generations for whom life is defined by nothing but befuddling lasciviousness accosted by Vengeance.  The Sprawling Picaresque curated with series of discrete frames captures the existentiality of a referential world where the civil life of metropolis, laden with fictions of democratic and humane values, is as imaginary as the giggly soap of “Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu…” kind.

GWP is a trip to our innerness, a journey to some corner of our own cities, to a world that exists where most of us have grown up, are living and shall die. This is not a journey to a garrison where all influential Mafia’s sitting in safe heavens decides the fate of others. Wasseypur has a different logic, live-kill-live. Blood is in the phenomena in Wassypur and automatic (gun) is inspiration. The generations of sultana daku and Sahid khan are in consistent conflict with each other to snatch a little  wheat, coal, sand, scrap, fish (immaterial what the goods is) lying at the margins of “the Big” Imperial British, its successors TATA, BRILA, Thapars and the new satrap of this black heritage Ramadhir Singh. The inhabitants of wasseypur are not Dons, they do not have militia, they have their kith and kin that are revered by common glories and are inflicted by common inspiration of retribution. The Pathans, The Qureshies in the nineties are not killing each much for resources lying beneath and in around wasseypur, but for the sake of the imagined dominance that traditionally Qureshies have inherited and the Pathans lacked. Though the story is presented as the revenge saga of Sardar khan against Ramadhir Singh (this is the training we have to understand a hindi movie), Anurag’s narration goes beyond. Each frame in the movie reveals an aspect of the society that has only two operate variables: Blood and Flesh. Sardar Khan, and so many others, through his life oscillate between these two instincts. In Wasseypur, Anurag depicts, instincts are rules. The justification of these rules appears from imagined narrative of dominance that Qureshies and Pathans share in a hierarchical manner. At the confluence of these two instincts, so many wasseypurs in so many of our towns/cities exists. At the confluence of these two instincts, natives of wasseypur, eat, drink, work, love, marry, give birth and kill. Anurag’s GOW is a narration of the intertwined instincts that gives the society called wasseypur an existence that is alean to the imagination of ‘Shining’ or “Incredible” Indians. It asserts a Beingness to its natives distinct from what the suave citizen of metropolis of post-liberalisation inheres.

The saga drenched in blood and written on the canvas of coal is a departure from our traditional understanding of violence as an individualistic phenomenon in hindi movies. Individualistic violence is replaced here by the psyche that a society in its totality carries. GOW leads us to a condition where Sardar Khan, ramadhir Singh, the Qureshies, the pathans, coal, sand, fish and all that remains faints in the background. What persists is a penetrating lustful glance of hunters searching for Blood and Flesh. And that’s the rule of life in so many Wasseypurs.

Note: One must add, this world is alien for many who do not know their own Wasseypur.

(Posters’s courtesy- Gangs Of Wasseypur: Fan Posters)

Ravish is an engineering graduate and master in Sanskrith from  JNU. He briefly pursued philosophy at JNU, and is  now an engineering personnel with the ONGC, Mehasana. He has also been involved in the cultural politics.

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3 thoughts on “Gangs of Wasseypur: This world is alien for many who do not know their own Wasseypur

  1. dhiraj kr nite on said:

    I have lived through and observed the society that this movie claims to engage with. I have not yet got any opportunity to spend time over this movie. My reading of a number of reviews of this movie makes me believe that the movie might have been deft in the application of cinematic tools but miserable in the representation of historical and geo-political life of those people whom it refers to. The gangs never meant merely violence and ‘inhumanity’ in the region. Of course, it was elevated from the economic instrument of exploitation and oppression in the earl phase to that of very means of livelihood and the way to living by the 1960s. Nonetheless, the left politics of dignity and emancipation challenged and forced to recede these gangs between the 1970s and the early 1990s. The region represented the valour of pursuits of humane life over all those who sapped it in this period. Unhappily, these niceties of history and life are at receiving end in the hand of cynical directors, like Anurag and RGV, and a good bunch of viewers who love everything which is cinematic-ally fresh in the world of predominantly ‘dull’ Bollywood.

  2. Aditya_R on said:

    I seriously wonder if GOW deserves so many thoughts. It would be more interesting to hear what the author has to say about ‘Kala Patthar’ or even ‘Sholay’ given this reading of the film.

    This movie is masala, revenge movie with little to say about the social relations that produce the ‘wasseypur’ condition (poor mishra has to do a voiceover to explain it). Those who understand this condition, do it anyway, those who do not are in it for that.

    It would be another story altogether to see how Wasseypur is similar to New York. However, a well shot movie with superb characterization.

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