Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Huma Qureshi, Zeishan Quadri
Gangs of Wasseypur II is less like a movie sequel, more like the season finale of an ongoing (and admittedly, engaging) TV series. Part I had no real ending. The death of Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) was the sort of crucial juncture you expect the next episode to pick up from. In Part II, there’s no need for a long-drawn establishment of premise, with characters whose stories play out in fast forward. This one isn’t slow. There’s just less motion blur.
But if Wasseypur I was about Sardar Khan, Wasseypur II is more distinctly about his son and successor Faisal Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Kashyap’s version of a Michael Corleone is the pot-smoking, Amitabh Bachchan-channelling boy with no aspirations of becoming a gang leader. He looks on bemused, and presumably doped out of his head, as his brother Danish (Vineet Singh) shoots one of his father’s murderers.
His transition to a feared gangster is not fully explained, yet the film kicks into gear as he comes into his own, with new allies and largely old enemies. Nawazuddin revels as the detached don who goes from endearingly funny (as he woos the woman he loves) to scarily aloof (he shoots a man over a slight and coolly walks away).
In Kashyap’s pulp-fiction version of the Jharkhand mafia wars, violence is fundamental. It’s graphic, easy and often without deliberation. The gravity of death is replaced by an ironical matter-of-factness: the cries of mourning are drowned out by the cheap noise of a brass band. Cinematic realism pervades, not only in the film, but in the minds of its characters: “Everyone has a movie playing inside his head,” says Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). The fantasies are of filmi romances and filmi murders.
The significant new character is Faisal’s stepbrother, Definite (Zeishan Quadri). The boy with a bizarre name and a Tere Naam hairstyle is born with a gun in hand, and goes on to aid Faisal on his meandering path to revenge.
The women have less significant roles than in Part I. They inhabit the fringes – as mothers and wives who in turns egg and console their husbands and sons. But that’s probably as true of the setting as it is of the film.
The movie plays out amid political and financial machinations – illegal scrap metal trading, election rigging – not unheard of in Jharkhand. Yet, it would be a mistake to judge Wasseypur for factual correctness. Kashyap shows familiarity with this world in his attention to detail – the typical Hindi accents, the Ray Ban shades, the pager. But they enhance the flavour rather than the facts. Wasseypur is as much a celebration of small-town India as it is a sinister revenge tragedy. If the subject wasn’t so gory, you’d call it charming.
It ends with a climax befitting its dramatic characters and storyline – in its guns-blazing, bloodspilling glory, it’s reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. And with a maniacal smile, Faisal could be Jharkhand’s very own Travis Bickle.