Anurag Kashyap’s trigger-happy Gangs are back. Wild, wild Wasseypur is buzzing once again with the swish of daggers, the din of gunshots and the curved conversations of violent men perpetually on the edge of sanity.
In years to come, Gangs of Wasseypur will, for all intents and purposes, be critically assessed as a single film. It has been split into two only by the exigencies of the movie exhibition business.
But for the moment, the question is inevitable: does Gangs Of Wasseypur II take off seamlessly enough from where the first part of the blood-splattered vengeance saga ended?
It certainly does, but by no stretch of the imagination is this anything like reviewing the same film. Gangs Of Wasseypur II is as distinct from Gangs Of Wasseypur as today’s Wasseypur must be from the nondescript but dangerous boondocks that the first part dealt with.
The sequel gets to the point infinitely quicker than Gangs Of Wasseypur did – it is free from the information overload that weighed down the initial 30 minutes of the first part.
The storyline surges forth much faster as the new generation of gangsters, now armed with mobile phones and automatic rifles, gun for each other with greater viciousness and less ceremony than ever before.
The blood-letting is far more insistent in Gangs Of Wasseypur II The narrative acquires a momentum that is often breathless and the warring men drop dead quicker than you can count.
But the multiple strands of the drama come together cohesively to deliver a convincing glimpse of the larger socio-political implications of Wasseypur’s lawlessness and rampant violence.
If there is anything missing in Gangs Of Wasseypur II, it is the infectious musical buoyancy of the first part. The soundtrack of GOW was one of the brightest embellishments of the film.
Not that the music of Gangs Of Wasseypur II is sans merit – it is delightfully quirky. It, however, pales a touch because it delivers more of the same, unmindful of the fact that the transformation of Wasseypur may have been more than just physical.
The music, like the chaotic and ever-changing place that the film is set in, should have moved on.
Swept along by the essential spirit that underlined Gangs Of Wasseypur, Gangs Of Wasseypur II continues to pay homage to Bollywood and its music. Actor Yashpal Sharma, seen in a solitary sequence in Gangs Of Wasseypur belting out a Hindi film duet moving back and forth between the male voice and the female, surfaces several times here. He is Wasseypur’s man for all seasons and all reasons.
Sardar Khan, riddled with bullets at a petrol pump by Sultan and his men in the climax of Gangs Of Wasseypur, is dead and gone. His eldest son, Danish (Vineet Kumar), too, is bumped off minutes into Gangs Of Wasseypur II.
The mantle falls on a doped-out Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in fine fettle). He becomes a reluctant gang leader, pushed into the role by his steely mother, Naghma Khatoon (Richa Chadda).
Holding out a mock threat to sever his fingers, she thunders at Faizal: “When will your blood boil?” Shaken a bit out of his stupor, the son sets out to assert his authority over the territory that his departed father lorded over.
The power that Faizal eventually acquires flows not from any special wiles or inherent strength of character that he possesses but from the destructive potential of the weapons at his disposal.
The rivalries here become increasingly complex because the spoils get more varied and lucrative. It is no longer only coal that the mafia has its eyes on. There are underhand iron trade dealings, the fixing of the auction of railway scrap, booth-capturing during elections and a host of other criminal moneymaking avenues waiting to be tapped.
Might is right in this outpost that sets its own rules. Faizal eliminates everything and everyone that comes in the way even as he loses his own men, including a 14-year-old brother, Perpendicular, a swaggering, lisping chit of a boy who can kill with a razor blade lodged in his tongue.
That’s Wasseypur for you. A treacherous friend is decapitated and his head hung in a plastic bag outside his home. Sultan is cornered in a vegetable market by a trio of Faizal’s men led by his step-brother Definite (Zeishan Quadri) and shot from point-blank range as the killers discuss the different ways in which jackfruit can be savoured.
Dark humour is indeed the film’s lifeline and it shines through on a number of occasions. In one brief scene, Durga (Reema Sen), Sardar Khan’s mistress, puts a loaded gun into her only son Definite’s schoolbag and advises him with a straight face not to get into a fight.
As the sights and sounds of Bollywood swirl all around grim and grimy Wasseypur, the sweet-tongued Ramadhir Singh ridicules his grown-up son and successor for going to a movie theatre to watch Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
Later, he spells out his contempt for Hindi cinema, attributing his continued survival in a hostile atmosphere to the fact that he does not watch films. “As long as there is cinema, people will continue to be taken for a ride.”
Faizal’s principal target is this movie-hating criminal-politician Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), the man responsible for the deaths of his grandfather and father.
The revenge, filmed with an operatic slo-mo rhythm, is bloodier than anything you would have seen before. But if you liked Gangs Of Wasseypur, there is no reason why won’t have another blast watching GOW II. But be warned: be sure that your stomach for blood and gore doesn’t give way.