It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
GANGS OF WASSEYPUR: Bollywood Ke Lala
Director: Anurag Kashyap; Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Piyush Mishra, Reema Sen, Jaideep Ahlawat
Before Gangs of Wasseypur begins, Anurag Kashyap acknowledges the film as a return to his roots. An insightful piece of information if you consider what follows for the next 150 minutes. Where most’d come up with nostalgic, heartwarming tale of a world they recall, Kashyap fuels his idea of nostalgia with a revenge story from a time well before he was born with an epic canvas unencumbered of morals containing reservoirs of blood, homespun bombs, backfiring kattas, medieval lovemaking, undiscovered locations, pepper spray-worthy language, and an indefatigable intensity. A film grander than the title suggests. An original film, from someone known to filch--okay, pay tribute by borrowing--from his long list of favorite directors, that deservedly made it to Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight.
The story spans generations with astute, implicit comments on diverse subjects from state policy to hinterland politics to the evolution of the social fabric. The screenplay behaves like a raging river in flood: convoluted, overflowing, digressing at whim. A VO accompanied by images ranging from recreations to documentary footage muddles the narrative further. Dialogue is soaked in authenticity, and accents and nuances vary from character to character. Events unfold like chapters of a book, often unrelated to one another, sometimes even unrelated to the film. I don’t think you’re supposed to get all of this in one go; Kashyap intends not to explain himself, but only to create a sense of what he’s trying to say. I suspect there will be a lot more ‘plot’ in part II.
Gangs of Wasseypur is the kind of film you will have to watch in a theater. You absolutely need to be sitting in the dark with no volume control to enjoy what Kashyap throws at you without a care of turning down the noise of gunshots and explosions, without exposing your expressions of guilty pleasures to others as a crude seduction scene plays out.
The digressions--though merited--are one too many and this greatly affects length. Its lack of coherence may not work for everybody. Its runtime didn’t even work for me. That’s the only flaw here: it’s just too long.
There is astounding attention to detail in every technical department of GoW. The opening shot is a testament to Rajiv Ravi’s camerawork: a long, uninterrupted take that runs for minutes in the bylanes of a moodily lit small town. Production design transforms incredible locations unearthed in unfilmed nooks of India into believable period settings. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music marries Varun Grover’s lyrics and along with Piyush Mishra they create an outstanding, earthy OST. Background score too merits mention for its sheer latitude: simple piano pieces to bull blown sounds out of a classic Hollywood western.
Every single actor seems to be tailored for a role specifically written for him or her. Since this is not possible, you can safely presume that Kashyap has brought out the very best in each of them. Richa Chadha essays the strongest and best role written for a woman in recent memory (yes Dirty Pictureincluded) with a memorable performance. For me, Chadha and her character are the best thing about GoW.
Tigmanshu Dhulia is the surprise package here, anchoring one end of the revenge saga solidly. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has only a handful of scenes, but all he needs is a single moment to draw the biggest reaction from the audience. Manoj Bajpayee is in killer form and clearly enjoying one of the high points of his underrated career.
That Kashyap is the face of current alternate cinema in India may make for a healthy debate amongst film aficionados, but there is agreement all around when the question of his own range comes up. From the surreal No Smoking that didn’t work to the definitive Black Friday that never got its due, Kashyap strives to surprise. And while every film requires an unconditional commitment of labor and love from its participant makers, the effort behind the making of Gangs of Wasseypur is special.
TERI MERI KAHAANI: Tedhi Medhi Kahaani
Director: Kunal Kohli; Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Neha Sharma, Prachi Desai, Vrajesh Hirjee
If you’ve seen the promos, there are no surprises to savor in Teri Meri Kahani. Unless you see it as a paean to the versatility of Shahid Kapoor’s hair. It really is quite marvelous and it’s no wonder shampoo companies spotted it a long time ago.
Three similar love stories in three different time periods involving the same couple intersect in a non-linear narrative. Each of them starts with the protagonists literally bumping into each other. The stories unfold in an equally predictable manner, ending quite conveniently in each case where Kapoor’s character nonchalantly dumps a demure girl for a more spicy Priyanka Chopra character. Each of the stories in turn is divided by Chaplinesque title cards (how very original), Facebook and Twitter updates (these are borrowed verbatim from Kapoor’s actual Twitter account), and er, sher-o-shayyary. That last one is either a masterstroke or they didn’t know how to use a play with text in the 1910 chunk.
Story #1 is set in 1960’s Bombay. The city is green-screened in a manner so tacky that it makes Grand Theft Auto look entirely plausible. Same goes for the story of a struggling musician who sweeps a big star actress off her feet in a matter of seconds.
Story #2 is set in 2012 London and is the weakest of the lot. This is because it’s pivoted around the use of social media and the writers believe they have their finger on the pulse of such matters. It’s embarrassing how you can spend millions on a subject you haven’t a clue about while addressing a target audience that knows everything about it. Better to make up nonsense about a subject relatively fewer people know about like...
...story #3. Set in 1910 in Pakistan and about a spineless boy womanizer who has to prove to the girl’s father that he is in fact not actually a spineless boy womanizer. He does this by tripping an English police officer into a pile of dung and then singing about his love in jail in a choreographed piece. College kids might still buy this I suppose.
The song situations are absurd, the writing is mediocre and funny when it’s not supposed to be, there’s hardly an original idea, and the performances are on auto-pilot; just about anything goes in Teri Meri Kahani. See it only if you have good hair and want a change of style.
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