For every 250 Sallutards, there is one Kashyaptard (invariably on twitter) who is almost ashamed of defending his cinematic-snob status whenever he makes a new film. This awkwardness has reached a level that sees only his most ardent fans criticizing him for his over-indulgence just to prove that their life isn't all Kashyap and darkness. Hence, at a time like this, Gangs of Wasseypur 2, the second part of one of the most intriguing fact-based gang war stories in the country, brings us all back to square one: this is the same inspired filmmaker that brought us the legendary Black Friday, and definitely the same guy behind the classic Satya. Dissing him now would be like bringing down Virat Kohli because he still hurls abuses on the field.
Here, he is ending a saga that will most likely bear his name more than any other of his work over the years. Simply put, GoW 2 is a fitting end to an ambitious series, and is one of the best sequels in an industry that believes that a '2' or 'again' is the true definition of one. Rather than waiting on the success of the first part and starting freshly with a pornstar or playmate, Kashyap has simply stuck to the basics of filmmaking by making it look like one film divided into 2 parts (which it is) rather than 2 films trying hard to resemble a whole.
GoW 2 continues moments after where GoW 1 left off from, where Sardar Khan became the product of the filmmaker's Godfather obsession. His bark-over-bite older son Danish Khan (an explosive Vineet Kumar) is killed minutes into this part, just as he begins to seek vengeance. Anyone more expressive and chest-thumping than him is bound to be slaughtered too, and it is only a matter of time before the Ganja-soaked indifferent son Faizal Khan (Nawazuddin, immortalizing Michael Corleone) rises into a figure his father would have been proud of. Poker-faced, relaxed, curious, and childishly heroic.
Deep inside, he still wants to be Amitabh Bachchan, but as he ingeniously observes, he feels himself becoming Shashi Kapoor instead and swiftly aborts this travesty in a gut-wrenching first kill - gory, bloody and frighteningly real. This is where GoW 1 had faltered, focusing too much on the happenings around Sardar Khan, watering down his menace trying to establish enough ground for the second part. Faizal Khan, here, doesn't stop for anybody, and despite a splattering of other colorful characters like Perpendicular (a bizarrely Kill-Billish 14 year old kid brother who kills with a blade from his tongue), Tangent and Definite (Zeishan Quadri, his half-brother from the 'Bengalan' Durga), it is Faizal who marches through Wasseypur with an unassuming half-personality that kills with its sheer ordinariness. And though Piyush Mishra's annoying voiceover still exists, narrating to us the happenings as if his sole mission in life was to write an autobiography, GoW 2 is paced expertly and delivers to us two or three of the finest sequences in recent Hindi cinema history.
The enigmatic house-attack sequence that started the first part chaotically, finds its culmination in the most breathtaking single-shot sequence that has Faizal staggering through his house, even jumping balconies, to avoid certain death. We are still at a stage where such single-shot takes are labeled arrogant and flashy, a clear sign of indulgence, but this one goes very well in the context of the haunting situation, and you can't help but applaud the all-around masterclass here. His mother's (Richa Chaddha, role of a lifetime) startling breakdown while singing his wedding song, while his wife (Huma Qureshi, effortless) dances and then notices her tears, will stay with you for days after. The filming of Sneha Khanwalkar's ingenious Kalaa re is another rare triumph that drives home the importance of music as a narrative tool (instead of a bumbling voice) in cram-in-all gangster dramas.
Complaining about the lawlessness of the land without actually having been there is akin to the West visualizing Rajasthan as the only India they know. Ramadheer Singh's agelessness may have been stretched a bit, as is his paranoid son Sultan Khan's penchant for mindless opportunistic killing. It feels like he pops up at times just to revive a lagging screenplay. His own murder in a market is a classic case of Kashyap's very crucial understanding of the fact that chases, shootings, and gang wars don't happen as smoothly as they happen abroad (or Hollywood). India's infrastructure is haphazard enough to make a murder look like a botched-up, comical misunderstanding that will invariably involve amusing miscommunication. The gang members aren't exactly Navy Seal material, most of them unfit and idiotic even. Ramadheer's matter-of-fact explanation to his useless younger son about why Indian cinema is responsible for him being alive after 3 generations of Khans failing to kill him is an inspired case of writing that almost distracts us from the disjointedness of the script.
In a story where revenge runs hand in hand with greed to trump family honor, it is clear that Kashyap may not have had enough time to demonstrate the after-effects of a major death on screen, often resulting in large bouts of emotional discontinuity. It is compromised for crackling pace, and it is left to viewers to decide how devastated Faizal is when he keeps losing his family members. A hastily-added breakdown scene doesn't quite justify his gory journey.
All in all, though, with a climax that is not unexpected but very stylishly executed, if GoW 1 was the cinema we needed, GoW 2 is the cinema we deserve - and easily the most satisfying watch of 2012.
- Rahul Desai aka Reel Reptile