Qalandar Reviews GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (Hindi; 2012)

Updating this post as Qalandar’s piece has now been published on the Outlook site

LINK
Gangs of Wasseypur opens with two of my pet peeves: a voiceover, and an explanation of where we are and how we got there (it’s cinema, people, show me, don’t tell me!). But – and I’m not sure how he does this – director Anurag Kashyap uses these clunky props to pull off some of his best filmmaking yet, in a fantastic hour that situates us in Dhanbad, in Bihar’s (now Jharkhand’s) coal belt, the casual and systematic brutality of its mining industry, and the complicity of the state (both pre- and post-colonial) in all manner of oppression. Marking incident, place and time is Piyush Mishra’s gravelly voice, informing us that our special Purgatory is Wasseypur in the 1940s, south of Dhanbad, a Muslim-village locked in permanent struggle between the Qureshis (butchers by trade) and every other kind of Muslim. Shahid Khan (a Pathan; that is to say, emphatically not a Qureshi) won’t content himself with his position in the food chain below the Qureshis, and is exiled from Wasseypur to the coal fields of Dhanbad. Needless to say, things aren’t any better here. Kashyap showcases misery almost casually, with neither melodrama nor glee, almost as if he were a scientist showing us the many ways in which the strong might abuse the weak. The dramatic isn’t absent – the visual clichés of rain and mud are much used, but nevertheless manage to seem fresh – but it is drama as Mani Ratnam might see it, subdued, and seen from far away.

It all adds up to a fine balance between the narrative– Shahid is murdered by his master Ramadhir, and Shahid’s son, the boy Sardar, swears revenge – and the far more interesting backdrop of the savagery legitimated by the state, and how it intersects with older antagonisms. Kashyap’s film does not take the easy way out: there is no contrast here between the colonial state and its post-independence successor; nor is there any sense of an Eden sullied by contemporary “criminalization of politics”. Rather, Kashyap shows us a world where the imperatives of capital and resource extraction have always been inseparable from criminality and violence. Moreover, Wasseypur’s age-old antagonisms show that while criminality and violence are hardly the sole prerogative of the state, they are imbued with new vigor by the greater opportunities – political, financial, and in terms of armaments – on offer courtesy modern industrialization and the business of politics. Perhaps Kashyap will never top Black Friday or the ugly vigor of Gulaal’s first half, but the same density, the same weakness for process that we see in the former (and that would have made a good noir director of Kashyap) enrich the first few reels of Gangs of Wasseypur. It’s the sort of procedural patience – chopped in vignettes to make for better cinema, the lesson all post-Iruvar Indian directors need to learn – I wish Kashyap’s one-time mentor Ram Gopal Verma had displayed in Company. It’s the sort of thing that could have made for a superb season-long TV series. Unfortunately, Indian television has nothing to equal HBO; and the large canvas docu-drama is a difficult format to pull off on the big screen, even where the filmmaker is clear about what (s)he is trying to achieve.

Kashyap isn’t: at some point prior to the intermission, Sardar Khan, all grown up, takes center stage. That obviously had to happen, but that also marks the point at which the film’s scope contracts, from representing a world to chronicling incidents. The latter are interesting enough – this film is never less than engaging – but are a far cry from the epic sweep promised by the film’s opening scenes, and by Piyush Mishra’s evocation early on of the Mahabharata.

Kashyap’s film is well-served by a strong cast, three among which are notable for elevating their roles beyond the script. Jaideep Ahlawat (who plays Shahid Khan) is the first of these, and anchors the film’s first hour, suggesting misery, dignity, and sheer cussedness with an impressive economy. I missed him when he was gone, largely because his son Sardar, as played by Manoj Bajpai, is not his equal. Bajpai is certainly in reliably fine form, but those familiar with his Hindi film work will not find him much tested here; as such, he is content to give us minor variations of what we’ve already seen him do on more than one occasion. That’s a good thing, but not as fresh an achievement as I’d thought Bajpai capable of. The second is Tigmanshu Dhulia, the Bollywood director making his acting debut as Ramadhir: in the character’s first few scenes (played by a different actor), I feared Ramadhir might end up a stock villain, but something more wonderful lay in store for me. As the narrative flashes several years forward (and as his character moves several notches up the food chain, ending up a MLA), Ramadhir has mellowed, his fleshy roundness hovering between passivity and anger. Yet even the latter is tinged with weariness, finding violent expression against his own son: Ramadhir expects his enemies to try and thwart him; only the incompetence of those who serve him seems genuinely painful.

The third is Nawazuddin Siddiqui, playing Sardar’s second son Faizal. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered his work – he was very good (albeit inconsistently so) in Kahaani – but I wasn’t expecting him to be one of the best things about the film, and much of the reason for anticipating Gangs of Wasseypur Part II in a few months’ time. Siddiqui is clearly from Irfan Khan’s school of acting, but minimalism is here married to a kind of impish persona that leavens Faizal’s seediness. The writers should have given Siddiqui more to work with (although, given the blandness that is the lot of Faizal’s elder brother Danish, perhaps he should be grateful), but even so, he is the best thing about the last third of the movie, as it wanders away from Sardar’s focus on Ramadhir and back to the tussle with the Qureshi’s that had initially exiled Shahid Khan from Wasseypur. Siddiqui has wonderful eyes: even if the boy Faizal hadn’t seen all that he’s seen, I would well believe that he sees something other than what’s there, right in front of his eyes. Perhaps not surprisingly, he is the only male character in the film to love cinema, channeling some of Amitabh Bachchan’s more wounded personae: never is cinema more simultaneously about what we can see, and what we cannot see (because it points to something off-screen), than in the figure of the star, especially one transcendent as Bachchan. There is something else out there, or perhaps under the surface – Faizal seems to know this in his best moments (as neither his father nor grandfather did), and whether that something else is the sordidness he caught a glimpse of when still a child; or whether it is the kind of pose Bachchan embodies; or whether it combines the two (the film he’s watching in the theater is, after all, Trishul, another film featuring an abandoned mother and dreams of revenge; although Trishul is far more Freudian, in its claim that it is precisely the mother who is to be avenged, precisely one’s kin that must be defeated) – who can tell?

There are others: Piyush Mishra is woefully under-utilized here, but his voice-over is itself a character, and a far more memorable one than the embodied one periodically wandering across our screens. Richa Chaddha curses her way through Naghma Khatoon with aplomb, and is wonderfully natural; it isn’t her fault that, Mahie Gill in Dev D notwithstanding, Kashyap has never been a good director of women. Reemma Sen (the extra “m” is not a typo) seemed new-born to those of us familiar with her roles in Malamaal Weekly and Dhool: there isn’t much acting she’s called upon to do, but the film imbues her with real presence, by way of a gaze that lingers upon her alabaster skin, but doesn’t know what else to do with her. On the other hand, Pankaj Tripathi is a disappointment as Sultan, Sardar’s Qureshi bête noire – the character comes across as almost comically inept, surely not an effect Kashyap could have intended.

Despite its abandonment of a sustained representation of a “system” shortly before the film’s half-way mark, Gangs of Wasseypur might nevertheless have made much of the more traditional pleasures of character and personality (the now-legendary American cable TV series The Wire managed both, and not simply because its serial format afforded more time; it was simply better written). That is where Scorsese’s Gangs of New York ended up: intellectually slight, but held together by Daniel Day-Lewis’ terrific Bill “The Butcher,” a tour de force that doesn’t address any critiques, but makes them seem beside the point. Kashyap’s film falls short. More specifically, while the screenplay’s avoidance of a narrative centered on a Bigtime Star like Daniel Day-Lewis is intellectually the right choice, in theory opening up the film to a host of characters (inherently a more plausible state of affairs if one is creating a world: no-one imagines himself in a character role in the film of his life), this doesn’t work so well in this script.

Most of the characters in Gangs of Wasseypur are under-written (writing credits are shared by Akhilesh Jaiswal, Anurag Kashyap, Sachin K. Ladia, and Syed Zeeshan Qadri), and not much more than the sum of their verbal tics. That meant that I found myself missing the charisma of an overweening Bill “The Butcher” in the ranks of the Qureshi qasaai, yet not having for consolation the wealth of more accessible personalities each character’s introduction had promised. In the absence of the requisite level of interiority, each character is thrown back onto the sort of lines designed to elicit titters from the audience. One housewife calls her husband a “randibaaz” (whore-monger); later on she gives him permission to pursue other women if he really needs to, but slops meat on his plate lest anyone cast aspersions on the sexual prowess of the family’s men – “baahar jaake beizzati mat karaana.” Cackling was much in evidence at my theater at this and many other dialogs, and no-one, not even the greyer heads in the audience, seemed shocked by anything – if the potty mouth of Kashyap’s films was ever intended to jolt bourgeois complacency, that time is long past (the one exception: the silence in my theater in the wake of Ramadhir’s wife’s instruction to her servant to use different dishes for the visiting Qureshis, presumably to avoid caste-pollution). Today, “bhosdee ke,” coded as it is by the social gulf that separates the characters on-screen from the audiences in the cinema halls, reinforces bourgeois complacency, which gets to be titillated and pat itself on the back for being edgy. The attempted rape of Salma Agha’s character in Kasam Paida Karne Waale Ki (watch Gangs of Wasseypur, you’ll see what I mean) never managed both of those.

It’s no defense to argue, as the film’s promoters tiresomely have, that the sort of earthy language used is authentic to the milieu represented in Gangs of Wasseypur. That defense certainly deflects criticism on the grounds that the dialogs are “too” dirty, vulgar, what-have-you – were anyone in the media making such a criticism. The defense sets up a straw man, in a context where the film and its modes of representation are being lionized in the media. Anurag Kashyap has, in short, won the day, and needs to stop pretending that he is still waging lonely struggles against legal censorship as well as bourgeois tyranny. I don’t mean to suggest that the dialogs are ineffective. Far from it: they are piquant, earthy, and go a long way toward etching a plausible world, one that is different from the worlds inhabited by the film’s viewers, and yet familiar enough to spark recognition. The problem is a different one, namely that this familiarity is forged by a kind of anthropological cliché: no character ever surprises us, none ever says anything we wouldn’t expect “them” to (several dialogs mouthed by women certainly are of the kind we wouldn’t expect “our women” to be uttering). In short, the dialog here, used as it is as a marker of authenticity, can only function as such by underscoring the distinction between “us” and “them,” by diminishing any claims the film’s characters might have on our empathy. The theatrical otherness of the bhaiyyas on display here, in permanent hyper-violent pantomime, might be authentic to Dhanbad and Wasseypur, but it places those locales under an eclipse: these people may be laughed or marveled at; the violence of the region may be decried (although, Bihar’s place in the contemporary urban Indian imagination, as the villainous foil to the modernity the metropolitans among us are busily forging, ensures that any head-shaking is just a wee bit too comfortable); but they cannot be loved, admired, or befriended. The dialogs function in much the same way as the dialogs assigned the stock South Indian characters in the masala movies of decades past: as glue, to ensure the types represented by these characters don’t move from their places in our imagination.

Much of the above isn’t an issue only where Gangs of Wasseypur is concerned, and I do believe some of these representational issues can be mitigated by deeper thought, and sustained labor, on the interiority of the characters. That work has not been done: we do not know how Sardar’s first wife Naghma feels, nor what makes his second wife Durga tick, nor even Ramadhir; we only hear their (more-or-less) salty tongues. Most unpardonable is Sardar Khan, denied any interiority beyond his desire for revenge against Ramadhir – as to the rest, he does and says things, seemingly devoid of any motivation: we can speculate that he helps rescue a young woman because he wants to stick it to the Qureshis, or that he agrees to a marriage with a Qureshi girl because his son has prevailed on him, but nothing in the film either shows us these are likely motivations, or makes it an interesting line of inquiry. Sardar even goes years without ever seeing his eldest sons, and that just seems odd given how filial he otherwise is. One could go on and on.

Sneha Khanwalkar’s music belongs to the film, and the album works a lot better than I had initially given it credit for — “I am a hunter, she want to see my gun” features Kashyap at his funniest, as he inverts the conventions of Bollywood double entendre by setting this song’s low lyrics to a backdrop of… gun-running. No song-and-dance routines for Kashyap, but “Womaniya” effectively punctuates more than one look of longing in this film. But my favorite is the insanely cheerful, almost perverse, “Teri Keh Ke Loonga,” suitable ditty indeed for Sardar Khan, the sort of man you can see coming a mile away. Satyamshot commenter Arturo Belano had once made the point that Kashyap’s male protagonists, “weaned on grand mythic narratives … try and “will” their lives “to be like those narratives….” That is, “it has become standard for Kashyap to have these ironic constructions in his movies where he has these protagonists who are given these unoriginal macho energies to release on screen but the movie gradually shows up the gap between their self-images and the reality of the kind of effect their behaviour is having on those around [them].” The point is a shrewd one, even if Kashyap doesn’t always seem sensitive to the ironies (witness Sardar’s death scene in the film; although heavily refracted through Sergio Leone’s work, it is about as straight as any masala film from the 1980s might have been) – either way, the charm of “Teri Keh Ke Loonga” means, he doesn’t have to be in the know.
Rajeev Ravi’s lens is one of the heroes of this film, and if the interiors of mofussil residences in Hindi films have by now become generic, he may be forgiven: his shots of the coalfields recall grand Westerns and Kaala Pathar, and are nevertheless very much his own. The film has little scope for crowds, but my favorite is a shot contrasting those of Varanasi with the desolate external corridor that serves as the shot’s – and the shady arms dealer Yadav’s – vantage point. Ravi’s camera is generally indifferent to men, with the exception of Nawazuddin Siddiqui: that contrast between Varanasi’s crush and the languorous heat of the corridor is Siddiqui’s too, as the camera repeatedly finds him at once still and restless. And then there’s skin, or rather, Reemma Sen’s skin: her Durga seems clothed in moonlight.
The trace of masala is not incidental: Gangs of Wasseypur is unthinkable without the legacy of several Hindi films, most obviously Kaala Pathar (1979) (following on the heels of a mining disaster in Dhanbad in the 1970s); Trishul (1978); and Deewar (1975) (specifically, the betrayal of organized labor at the film’s outset), but, more subtly, of a whole universe of signification that makes sense only the context of masala. Kashyap is too knowing to try and dredge up the mythical heroes of years past, a mode that many in his urban audiences now sneer at, except in the context of tongue-in-cheek cinema; but doesn’t seem to have any other mode worked out. That which we care about the most in Gangs of Wasseypur – this character’s death; that one’s suffering; these people sold down the river – comes to us from the masala film (toned down for sure, more Ratnam’s Thalapathi than J.P. Dutta’s Ghulami), and Kashyap gives it to us un-ironically. The result is significant unevenness of tone, as Kashyap uses the post-ironic techniques and incongruous comedy of Sergio Leone and Tarantino while resorting to masala cues to draw the audience in. Those filmmakers recognized that the gesturality of the past had run its course, but since any alternative trope would itself be provisional, the director ought to double down on cinema that is about gesturality itself – the question of what Kashyap recognizes is not answered by this film, leading to the uncomfortable realization that the film isn’t really “about” anything (or, not about anything beyond the evocation of a milieu the writer has known well, a place that is one’s own).

If this is harsh, my defense is, Kashyap made me do it: the way the film begins, the well-written dialogs, the wealth of acting talent on display, mean that this is too good a film, has tackled too weighty a canvas, to be about nothing more than a grudge match. The film’s writers knew it too, which explains why the script starts out as it does. And although I’ll watch it again, I can’t help but feel they ought to have persisted.

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156 Responses to “Qalandar Reviews GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (Hindi; 2012)”

  1. omrocky786 Says:

    Superb review Q…… I may not watch the film again but will re read this review….. you are totally right about the music …

    • omrocky786 Says:

      I have seen in my house where seperate Cheenee key bartan were used for the muslims . but things have changed now however Even now if the muslims invite Hindus to thier weddings they hire a Hindu Halwai to make food for them..

      • Re: “Even now if the muslims invite Hindus to thier weddings they hire a Hindu Halwai to make food for them..”

        Some of us do that because we’re not sure if caste Hindus will have food from a halwai not of the “right” caste! This is especially true with Brahmins in the South, although I agree that in cities, this is pretty much dying out…

        • omrocky786 Says:

          the other scene in the movie where the voice over said that the Police does not enter wasseypur also reminded me of my hometown where there are still certain Mohallas where the Police department and or the Electric dept. dare not enter….
          also -We have a small street full of butcher shops known as “Kasai Gali.”.. used to be a scary place as a kid…
          Aside- My family had a very old retired supervisor whom my dad was supporting just because he had been with us since the time of my grand father …. he would request everything in twos ( like bags of sugar/ flour etc.) coz he had two homes to support…..I remember as kid the other employees would tease him- amma Thekedaar kabar mein pair hain aur do do ko dhar rakha hai …lol

          • Re: “Aside- My family had a very old retired supervisor whom my dad was supporting just because he had been with us since the time of my grand father …. he would request everything in twos ( like bags of sugar/ flour etc.) coz he had two homes to support…..I remember as kid the other employees would tease him- amma Thekedaar kabar mein pair hain aur do do ko dhar rakha hai …lol”

            Ha, LOL. When my dad was in Dubai he had an Arab colleague whose wife used to bully him to take another wife, she said her friends teased her that her husband wasn’t man enough because he only had one wife…

          • omrocky786 Says:

            Re.- . When my dad was in Dubai he had an Arab colleague whose wife used to bully him to take another wife, she said her friends teased her that her husband wasn’t man enough because he only had one wife…
            Ha ha ha…kaash hammaree biwi bhee aisee hotee….LOL
            aside- My wife liked one scene from GOW where when bajpai’s son gets shot and he says kuch nahee hua hai, Bajpai slaps him and says golee lagee hai aur tu keh raha hai kuch naheee hua hai !!
            My wife said that her dad was like that too…If any kid got hurt , her dad will get so upset that he will start yelling first- kyon chot lagaa lee etc. and then tend to chot of the kid…LOL
            she also said ( offcourse laced with taunt)- dekha aisa hota hai baap ka pyar LOL !!!

          • Ah Rocky, one can’t win! And sometimes, even if one doesn’t fight, one loses!

        • Some of us do that because we’re not sure if caste Hindus will have food from a halwai not of the “right” caste
          Coming from a Tam Brahmin family i can visualize such an occurrence.

          On the write-up pretty solid. My two issues were the voiceover and length of the film where characters like Durga could have been edited.

    • omrocky786 Says:

      I liked Bajpai’s act a lot though…Richa Chadha’a charater was pretty predictable and been seen many times before…..
      Tigmanshu was a big surprise….

  2. omrocky786 Says:

    just read Rangan’s review .. In the comment section some one named Kutty has this to say there- “This is neither a middle-finger to bollywood masala nor a proper homage to it. Like the end of this movie, it is in the middle of nowhere.”
    This pretty much sums it !!

  3. Good read. Liked GoW quite a bit, but it could have been so much more.

    The younger Ramadhir Singh is played by some other actor, not Dhulia.

  4. Jhakas review.
    ..will read it again
    Though I liked Sultan Khan’s character a lot…

  5. Qalandar, this is an utterly exceptional piece, easily one of your best and to my mind simply the best one so far on the film.

  6. This review is a treat.
    Satyam stole my thunder! Easily the best piece on the film, bar none.
    I wish I can see the film somehow! But, not on a pirated DVD.

  7. Skimmed some rather wonderful bits of this review and will of course return to it once I see the film. Thanks Q.

  8. omrocky786 Says:

    Satyam- how was Ishqzade ??

    • omrocky786 Says:

      I did not have much of a problem following the movie and was not bored either which seems to be the complaint of a lot of reviewers….( my wife however lost interest within the first half hour ). I would actually expand on Q’s point about the TV series – it was like watching a “violent Buniyaad ” LOL!!!

      • rockstar Says:

        ya it was much like documentry style of narration

        first half had lot of good visuals especially at random times the use of blurred animation in comic style …some of the stuff in 2nd half for revenge is plain simple

        piyush mishra had the same voice(as actor) in jhoom barabar jhoom but it was more commercial spoof and ya i like the guy who played manoj’s father much more than manoj …one feel it will be very difficult for him to repeat another shool(even better than satya) easily one of the most memorable performance seen on screen

        wife was strong(only for kids) and resisted infidelity and accepted her fate(there is a scene between her and piyush demonstrating that)

  9. Meant to say this earlier but on the voiceover I really like how RGV handles it. To a certain degree in Company but moreso in RC you have this sinister yet corny voice relating the history. So a mythic framework is being established and yet the voice also works in deconstructive ways.

    • Satyam not sure whether u saw this but here is Kashyap himself saying that GoW is a masala film-

      “India has never seen real Indian rustic film like this. It reaches out the most and not at all deep. Its least taxing and people need not to use their brains while watching the film,” says Anurag Kashyap. Declaring the film to be his most profitable venture ever, Kashyap further adds, “The film reaches out the most, of all the films that I have done. It’s like a bullet train of entertainment with all the important ingredients that makes a film a perfect Indian masala hit. People will laugh and enjoy. It has got everything in it, strong story with an Indian feel to it, full of romance, quirkiness, action, music.” And what about swear words? “I won’t call it abusive language. It’s in a very normal way, the way people talk in India.”

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-26/news-interviews/32424357_1_film-anurag-kashyap-sirf

      • I haven’t seen the film but it’s not an entirely correct characterization. It’s masala the way Satya (or Company) is masala. which is to say that at the level of a basic plotline or character motivations it might be close to such a paradigm but the larger framework and hence ‘meaning’ of that tradition is missing. Masala is never just about the elements but also that ‘controlling’ framework. Once you lose that element of transcendence (there are all sorts of sociological and cinematic reasons for why this happened) you can quite retrieve masala in the same way. Which is why you have all these current ‘tongue-in-cheek’ attempts. At the same time this doesn’t mean that the useful gestures and/or politics of masala cannot be reinvented within a more auteurist framework. Which is what Kashyap’s probably referring to. And I don’t argue with him too much on this though it seems to me that a certain ‘thought’ of masala needs to go along with this. It cannot just happen at the level of ironic allusion. Rathnam for example offers a way out. He for example takes the ‘angry young man’ (or the set of politics that corresponds to him) forward in certain ways while always remaining true to his larger (at least partial) project of downscaling masala or accounting for its ‘vanishing’ (in the more transcendent sense once again). and here Thalapathy is possibly the best example from his career. Having Rajni at the heart of this film makes this point even more sharply much as (and I’ve long believed this) having Mammootty as the counterpoint in many ways also shows how a less flamboyant persona can nonetheless be employed as effectively. In some ways Mohanlal’s Iruvar outing is part of this move (and of course this film is a history of such gesturality anyway, principally by way of the videos). And within a Hindi context Abhishek represents the same choice for Rathnam.

  10. *Perhaps not surprisingly, he is the only male character in the film to love cinema: Actually every character is fan of BW from Sardar Khan to Huma Khan’s character (as a child she is pestering the ticket checker to let her in and as an adult she continues to do the same after applying lipstick :-) )…wasseypurians are obsessed with BW…the juxtaposition of what is occuring in the movie with iconic hindi movies/dialogues (mai abhi bhi fayK huay paisey nahi uthata to Mithun song) are intelligently placed in the movie
    *Kashyap has never been a good director of women: Can you elaborate on this bit more. I thought that Nagma was very strong female character; especially loved the way she is utterly fearless with the cops at her doorsteps in the middle of night…he doesn’t show his female characters as victims. Even mysterious, enigmatic Reema/bangalan character is the one who makes that last phone call. Ramadhir’s wife is the only one in shadows…rest of them are strong, assertive women with strong personalities (IMO).
    *Sultan, Sardar’s Qureshi bête noire – the character comes across as almost comically inept: I actually found him perfect. He is a pawn in the hands of Ramadhir even though he is dreaded quasai that even police would be scared of…he is made to sit with ramadhir and then when he doesn’t play along or when truce bet. two families is imminent, he is made to sit on the floor…I thought Sultan was absolute perfection…he doesn’t have the “garam-garam” dialogues of Bajpai or colorful like Nawaz’s.
    *The dialogs function in much the same way as the dialogs assigned the stock South Indian characters in the masala movies of decades past: as glue, to ensure the types represented by these characters don’t move from their places in our imagination: For me the dialogues were (though complete, total, absolute masala and therefore very juicy and interesting) total revelation in terms of lingo/vocabulary in the same way Vidhya’s were in Ishquiya. I had to go research meaning of various phases such as “kahe kay lunga”….I am sure many hindi cinema movie goers are in same boat as me.
    Again your review is absolute delight (as everyone else said). I think you have written a very generous review to A.K’s GoW.

    • Re: “Actually every character is fan of BW from Sardar Khan to Huma Khan’s character (as a child she is pestering the ticket checker to let her in and as an adult she continues to do the same after applying lipstick :-) )…”

      I remembered Huma Khan’s character Mohsina, hence my qualification of “male.” On Sardar, could you elaborate? Where is he shown loving cinema? (He has a nautanki-waala singing and dancing to a song from Kasam Paida Karne Waale Ki, but note that is a tactical use of cinema to create an effect before the public — whereas Faizal and Mohsina like to watch movies in and of themselves). Other male characters in the film are shown singing lines from songs, but only Faizal Khan sits transfixed in the cinema, staring at the big screen.

      • Do watch the deleted scene Satyam has posted…I also recall one of A.K’s interview where he mentioned that BW is integral part of the locals there. Not sure if this is politically correct to say or not: I have noticed that muslims in general and india in particular, love BW. e.g. If you were to come to my town on certain day the hindi theater is packed with people from our jamatkhana, burqa clad women…that I almost feel that theater owner (also muslim) sells out cheap tickets to “apney” log. I have some theories on it.

    • SPOILER ALERT

      Re: “Can you elaborate on this bit more. I thought that Nagma was very strong female character; especially loved the way she is utterly fearless with the cops at her doorsteps in the middle of night…he doesn’t show his female characters as victims. Even mysterious, enigmatic Reema/bangalan character is the one who makes that last phone call. Ramadhir’s wife is the only one in shadows…rest of them are strong, assertive women with strong personalities (IMO).”

      I agree that they are strong characters Di; I didn’t mean that Kashyap’s women are doormats, you are quite right there. I simply meant that Kashyap doesn’t seem all that interested in women, unless they are “in a man’s world” comporting themselves on, not just equal but identical, footing. Thus he is interested in women who can elbow their way in a man’s world, curse with the best of ‘em, etc. But he isn’t much interested in exploring other aspects of feminine/feminized experience…

    • Re: “he is made to sit with ramadhir and then when he doesn’t play along or when truce bet. two families is imminent, he is made to sit on the floor…”

      Wonderfully observed Di — excellent point, I had not noticed this.

      • Sultan was so perfect that I thought he was real life muslim and when I found out “tripathi” I was shocked beyond words…I guess thats what good acting is all about or maybe we have set images in our minds of what a person from particular state/religion are supposed to look like. In KJo movie a muslim will be depicted with skull cap, beard…A.K stayed away from the typical. Neither are women in burqas, except for one scene where she is using burqa to disguise herself to spy on the mistress.

    • Re: “I had to go research meaning of various phases such as “kahe kay lunga”….I am sure many hindi cinema movie goers are in same boat as me.”

      You’ve led a sheltered life!

      Just kidding…I agree many dialogs would be new to people, but not “keh ke loonga”. This was known enough to be the tagline for all the posters in Bombay, and I think every maila Hindi/Urdu speaker (like me) knows this one. Afsoos to is baat ka hai ke aap jaise shareef logon se hamaara paala nahin padaa…

      • Lol..liked the movie except some nitpickings…

      • I agree on sheltered bit…maybe all my classmates were ‘decent’ too. Never heard a single gali growing up! Apart from school, I wasn’t allowed to play in nukkad and now I know why. In bombay I never ever heard “kahe k lunga”…not once…but bihari immigration may not have started in bombay then…not sure.
        On that note: did you understand the lyrics of the jail song. Though not a hit song, I was watching the makings of that song on utube…the song talks about disillusionment on political situation even by the folks in jail….couldn’t make out a single word :-(

  11. Great going Qalandar though the Outlook guys might have used a better title!

  12. Congrats Q!

  13. Here’s another Outlook piece that Kashyap has tweeted:

    http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?281649

    • This is a good read but I think he author is quite sadly wrong on what Deewar means in this context. Because this film is precisely representative of the ‘grey area’ the author seems to be extolling elsewhere. The truly bad criminal like Madan Puri is actually quite irrelevant to the film in the true sense. On the other hand Vijay is precisely someone ‘beyond good and evil’. He is only interested in people he loves. His criminality is never a source of much concern to him. Note how even the Iftikhar character here, a sort of mentor to him, also seems a man of integrity (casting this actor here was a great stroke) even as he otherwise runs a more corporatized sort of gang (Madan Puri is much more small fry on this score.. still about a certain thuggishness..). So the key characters of this world are both ‘good and evil’ or beyond this binary structure. or else they’re opposed to the boring moralists of the film (the mother, the brother, specially the latter). The reason though that this film takes place on Vijay’s turf is that it continually problematizes a world where legal norms and bourgeois family values seem to define things but are ultimately hypocritical. So you have a guy being shot for stealing bread, you have a teacher living a life of destitution etc. Obviously this film is too sophisticated to simply side with one or the other position but it does reveal powerfully that one cannot simply have a good conscience about the law and family ethics and move on. Because a great deal of violence is tolerated and even enabled by these structures.

      I should also make a larger point. The whole gangland representation where the characters repeat the gestures of masala cinema (and its characters) without ever taking the moral codes of that same world too seriously is itself a somewhat problematic move. It amounts to a kind of ideological obfuscation. The representations are a bit too simplistic even at a literal level but leaving this aside (and one could argue that below the surface these characters are not that far from the Deewar universe.. they still love their family and friends and are willing to kill for them.. they still respect larger community codes and so on) a much more fundamental and for want of a better word ‘metaphysical’ question that Deewar raises is ignored in these films. What about a structure that creates such a world? Note how it is not sufficient to simply recount a national history in this regard. This move is obviously subversive and to be welcomed but what Salim-Javed’s scripts so exemplarily did was (and this is a properly Marxist move.. precisely because it is so thorough) locate the whole ‘problem’ at the heart of the bourgeois structure which of course is not co-extensive with the history of the Indian nation-state. So in a film like Trishul you could read it through a certain post-Independence lens, about the failure of a post-Independence generation to live up to the promise of this event, or the extent to which decolonization created native masters with colonized souls. But once more the true heart of the critique here goes to the bourgeois edifice. The ‘mother’ who persuades R K Gupta to commit the crucial betrayal and later on we see how Gupta has the most normal family life. Meanwhile his betrayal makes Vijay possible, in terms of his illegitimate identity and of course his whole outlook (vengeance and the rest). At the same time Gupta’s family is totally oblivious to this foundational ‘crime’ (?) that makes his success possible (a great Indian corporate story!). So the pure narrative has its political resonance but it is always destabilizing the family structure from within.

      Here it is not about simply opposing these structures but realizing that a lot of the state’s values are codified and institutionalized in its hegemonic bourgeois ‘ethics’. This is what the true revolution of the ‘angry young man’ was about. It did not just argue against politicians or ‘villains’ in that immediate ‘micro’ sense nor did it simply argue against the contours of the nation-state. It did all of this of course but it also argued against the ‘mother’ and the ‘father’ and so on. All these ultimate ‘signs’. Of course it is true (as I’ve argued before) that many of these films end a bit unconvincingly on this score (Trishul is a chief example once more) by providing ‘happy’ endings (it’s not about the anti-hero living or dying but about the law and the family structure being dominant at the end and the only one possible) but still there is too much opened up that cannot be put back in the box. It is ‘Vijay’ who survives these happy endings as a haunting!

      A film like Satya (of course this repeats all the masala gestures including the buddy elements and so on) assumes a universe where corruption is so thick and the world so messy in every sense that the decisions informing the larger framework simply do not matter. The world just is. The characters don’t even bother questioning why it is so. This is a problem RGV has not quite resolved so far and in one sense this is why he keeps hitting a dead end. Put differently one can throw the baby out with the bathwater if in dismissing the epic frame one also throws out the ‘metaphysics’ of the same. In other words whether you accept a hero like Arjun or not as ‘relevant’ the world is still ordered a certain way. To have then a much more modest character who is only concerned about getting ahead ruthlessly within his immediate environment is to accept the stability of the overall frame. And yet once more the ideological issue here is that a certain class of society, a certain ‘native’ type, a certain ‘ethnographically’ represented kind is never given the latitude to launch the same sort of interrogation.

      But why not? Aren’t the Maoists controlling increasingly larger swathes of Indian territory?! Would it be so far fetched to allow some of these characters more political agency? Once more this is exactly what Rathnam did in Raavan. He took the audience over to the other side. This is how the world looks viewed at from within ‘Asokavanam’. Certainly Ram’s order becomes rather terrifying. Or more modestly in Yuva Lallan is taken out of his let’s say GoW-like world and placed at the heart of a major metropolis where he must then compete with the other two characters who are also hegemonically defining the Indian discourse in different ways. All of this would make for a longer discussion.

      There is a point here that Gayatri Spivak often makes in various permutations. There is a post-national state read in certain ways. But the nation-state continues to exist. It is very easy to forget this latter bit. Similarly one can focus on all kinds of ‘micro-identities’ and politics associated with the same and the degree to which these destabilize the larger nationalist framework. However it is also true that the hegemonic nation-state also has a way of ‘allowing’ for these subversions and especially in a capitalist economy incorporating them. Zizek is the best guide on this particular point.

      • This was a very interesting and informative note Satyam. And ur comparison with Deewar was apt too. And since u brought Ifthekar into the mix, he also played an idealistic man in Zanjeer and Kaala Patthar- i also sometimes believe that such ‘non-central’ characters of old masala films who had a high moral code- the schoolmaster, an idealistic reporter/policeman, even a thies/thug with a certain integrity (Danny from Kaalicharan, Pran in Majboor)- are conspicous by their absence in the new-age masala films

        • Absolutely Saurabh.. and speaking of Iftikhar probably no one in the history of Hindi cinema suggested as much integrity as him! Here the perfect complement to his Deewar outing is the Don turn. if you for a second leave aside what each guy’s profession is in the respective film they could be the very same in all other ways. Which gets to my point!

          But yes you’re totally right that in leaving behind all the great character actors, supporting actors and even bit parts of the past Hindi cinema has lost a great deal of ‘texture’ and ‘depth’ even on a good day. The story I love in this context involves Leone who apparently took far more time casting the bit players in his films than the leads. His sense was that an actor should make the right mark even in a brief appearance and of course this is true for all his films.

          In some ways people like Kashyap or RGV, at least on certain days, could learn a lot more from Leone. On the one hand they too give a great deal of attention to the bit parts and so on.. all these characters are memorable in their films. On the other hand the essential tension in their works is one Leone resolved successfully decades before them. RGV is closer to Leone in this sense and very unlike Kashyap (and many others who are inferior to Kashyap) in that he wants to retain the epic frame. In fact he’s moved further in this direction after Company (as has Scorsese in a comparable sense.. say Mean Streets to Casino). He loves that whole ‘central man’ idea. On the other hand Kashyap too secretly endorses this but he has to deconstruct things far more to get there and this runs a certain danger because if you take it to an extreme you lose the framework in which any kind of ‘grand character’ makes great sense, let alone of an epic sort.

          Godard and Leone offer contrasts on this score. Godard often repeated the moves of great genre films, he’d even have his characters mimic the larger than life figures of those works but ultimately his films were deconstructive. What’s very interesting here is that you perform better deconstruction when you run close to the source, shadow it or make your film a kind of ‘graft’ on the original. Everything looks very similarly and yet in its effects it is dramatically different (much as in a different vein it is the much more sincere Hollywood ‘remake’, literally or otherwise.. say Game, that ends up looking far more of a ‘fake’ than a much more cheesy ‘Indianized’ attempt). The advantage to be had here is that Godard can repeat all the moves of his originals, even retain the framing in some manner and thereby ‘borrow’ from the transcendence of the originals to perform his ultimate deconstructions. If he had done something completely different his films might still have been valuable but the originals would also have remained untouched.

          Leone goes even further here. His deconstruction is always the other side of nostalgia. He loves the original works, he references them constantly, even obsessively in certain films. But he is always totally aware that the epic framing is no longer valid. That world has vanished. He too relies on comic elements, principally through the exaggeration of heroic gesturality, which if taken to an extreme becomes ‘comic’ (note how Southern masala often does the same with the Bachchan legacy.. you take it too far and the films becomes comedies! again this is something RGV struggles with.. he wants to take it that far and yet present it ‘seriously’.. so his ultimate resolution quite often involves characters, principally in the Sarkar films, but also with Devgan in Company, who have taken gesturality to such an extreme that they no longer even have to indulge in it! Just a stare or a twitch or some such thing is enough to get the job done!) but the ‘heroic’ and more precisely the epic mode has not simply vanished from his world. he gently nudges it but doesn’t destroy it altogether. In the same sense the entire Ford physical landscape that was so impressive is equally so in Leone (downsized a bit earlier on but returns with a vengeance in Good the Bad and the Ugly and even moreso Once upon a Time in the west… a similar move is available in Once upon a Time in America as well where the nostalgic urban setting with the enormously symbolic bridge and so on return).

          So Godard and Leone in very different ways deal with the heritage by ‘mocking’ it most when they’re running very close to it. And again what’s important here is the ‘compromise’. In more Bombay film terms you can’t simply downsize Vijay or ‘lose’ all his epic registers. You’d end up with a good ‘realistic’ film but not much more. Of course it is also too late to simply repeat Vijay in uninteresting ways. Which is why enjoyable as many of the contemporary masala efforts might be they are hopelessly beside the point at the end of the day.

          • should add another note of clarification here. How does some of the stuff I’m saying here not contradict some of the other things I’ve said (that a lot of these films are happy to simply annoy bourgeois audiences, hence the rough language or the frank sexuality and so forth)? Actually I am saying precisely the same thing either way. The point is that you can uphold the same structure by just superficially ‘irritating’ it in some way. This is why a lot of the key multiplex demographics that are not opposed to such films in principle (too grim, too much violence and so on) enjoy them quite a bit when they do end up watching them. And there is again nothing surprising here. The gangsters in these films are all about an honor and shame code that is precisely consonant with bourgeois values. They are in the business of blowing up many things (!) but these ‘family values’ isn’t one of them one you scratch the surface a bit. Once more I am not hostile to family values without reason. This ‘class’ supports the edifice of the democratic nation-state in all sorts of profound ways.

  14. Gangs of Wasseypur
    Art or Artifice?

    Caught in two minds, Shougat Dasgupta wonders if Gangs of Wasseypur is a triumph of form or a betrayal of content

    TWO WEEKS ago, on these pages, I reviewed Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur. I gave the movie four stars and wrote admiringly of the wit and flair of Kashyap’s filmmaking, how I was willing to overlook the lack of a plot because I so enjoyed the admittedly self-indulgent flourishes. Setting aside the starrating, an arbitrary choice and meant only to appease those who (perhaps sensibly) think of reviews as consumer reports, diminishing word counts mean that reviewers can only hint at their responses to a given work of art. Reviews, or rather a certain kind of review, are necessarily reductive, the reviewer trying to transmit enthusiasm or disdain or indifference but rarely all of those things at once.

    In the days since the review, I’ve been involved in various arguments, passionate espousals or disavowals of Gangs. It mirrored the reactions of the group of people I watched the film with in the theatre. We continued our conversation over dinner, Kashyap’s loud champions countered by equally loud sceptics.

    I have a foot in both camps.

    The response to Gangs is a version of the debate over form and content. Susan Sontag in her famous essay ‘Against Interpretation’ writes of the “odd vision by which something we have learned to call ‘form’ is separated from something we have learned to call ‘content’”. And content, writes Sontag in the mid-1960s, is “mainly a hindrance, a nuisance”. The strongest criticism I have heard of Gangs is of its lack of content. This is not, in Sontag’s formulation, a “subtle or not-so-subtle philistinism”, but a genuine confusion created by Kashyap. In interviews both he and scriptwriter Zeishan Quadri have talked about the film’s foundation in truth, described their desire to make a film rooted in the political and social reality of north India.

    There is, of course, little that is ‘real’ about Gangs of Wasseypur. It is a film rooted only in cinematic reality. As with Quentin Tarantino, everything Kashyap makes is in homage to the movies he loves. Even in his more disciplined, restrained films, Black Friday and Gulaal particularly, the narrative seams are frayed, the film always on the verge of coming apart. Kashyap forces you to consider the question, ‘What is the filmmaker’s responsibility to his subject?’ The answer, in Gangs at least, appears to be none at all. Of course, it’s hard to know whether the film has a subject at all, so scattershot is its attention. Certainly, Wasseypur is not its subject, not the coal mafia, not local politics, or why would Kashyap be so cavalier, so careless in his attention to detail?

    Kashyap enjoys using documentary footage in his films, real people, real locations. He thinks of filmmaking as a guerrilla enterprise and has boasted about members of his crew being imprisoned or threatened. He has described his process as investigative, even journalistic. He fetishises the real, the authentic (see the much praised dialogue in Gangs). So it’s hardly surprising when people, particularly people familiar with the culture of small towns in north India, of places like Wasseypur, leave the cinema bewildered. Those huge, menacing butchers, what was that about? Why is the powerful politician such a willing patsy, so easily emasculated by an apparently lone gangster? Why does the story make so little sense? Why are we being distracted by song-and-dance sequences devoted to Ray Bans?

    The Hoot, a website that tracks the Indian media, noted a divergence in reviews of Gangs in the Hindi and English press. In the former, reviewers scorned the film’s pretensions to authenticity, joking about the hypocrisy of playing to urban stereotypes and fantasies under the guise of realism. The English-language media were fawning about precisely the sort of things the Hindi reviewers noticed as false, including the language with its extravagant crudity.

    It’s rather a clever con. Kashyap uses the vocabulary of independent cinema to make commercial cinema. Like so many of us in the middle classes, who spend hours in dim rooms, watching TV, movies, listening to music, reading comics and novels, Kashyap is enraptured by notions of the frontier, by a wilder, less circumscribed life. Out there, life is real, in here we watch, safe and cosy, titillated but untouched by ‘reality’. The denizens of Wasseypur, as recently reported in the national newspapers, are angry with their portrayal in Gangs. They, like those I know who hated the film, are disappointed by what they see as the film’s abdication of its responsibility to the real.

    But for Anurag Kashyap ‘documentary’, ‘journalism’, ‘research’, ‘roots’ — all words he has used when talking about Gangs — are in service of a greater reality, perhaps the greatest reality: entertainment. He craves content, or thinks he does, but really he just wants to play with form so instead of a film that captures something essential about Wasseypur and, by extension, north India, Gangs devolves into broad pastiche. Kashyap takes the easy option of giving in to his cinephilia, to his imagined Wasseypur incubated in the movie theatres of his youth.

    HINDI CRITICS, who listened to Kashyap talk of his desire to make a film about his roots, looked at Gangs of Wasseypur for verisimilitude, for a world they recognised, populated by characters whose motivations they understood, whose actions they found plausible. But Kashyap’s target is a certain kind of filmgoer: a multiplex audience too sophisticated for the aspirational fantasies peddled by mainstream Bollywood, but too naïve to see that Wasseypur serves the same function for Kashyap that Switzerland does for Yash Chopra. Just as Suketu Mehta in Maximum City panders to a prurient fantasy of Bombay, so Kashyap in Gangs of Wasseypur offers middle-class filmgoers the frisson of slumming it in mofussil India.

    Shougat Dasgupta is an Assistant Editor with Tehelka.
    shougat@tehelka.com

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main53.asp?filename=hub210712Art.asp

    • I am extremely glad for that last paragraph here. For obvious reasons! But I’m also pleased the author mentioned Maximum city because I’ve always felt similarly about this book.

  15. tonymontana Says:

    The best Hindi film of the year would be Kshay though..unforunately many havent even heard of itt owing to a very limited release.. (directed by my friend)

    Satyam n others, try watching it some time:

    http://www.rediff.com/movies/review/review-kshay/20120618.htm

    • Tony, thanks for telling us abt Kshay- this seems really interesting and now it’s on my must watch list- So this director Gour is ur friend…interesting- i hope the film is available on dvd or atleast on youtube- from the review it seems like a ‘must watch’

      • tonymontana Says:

        yeah – 6 years in the making.. Poor guy had to go through the horrors of a destroyed reel, re-shooting, taking loans, and almost growing broke..
        Thank God it got released even though it deserved to release in much more than 4 theaters across india

    • yes I’ve heard of this.. do want to watch it if I get a chance..

  16. Partha Chatterjee’s deeply flawed reading of Kashyap and GoW in Frontline:

    http://www.frontline.in/stories/20120810291510000.htm

    I haven’t seen the film yet but some of these characterizations are impossible to swallow. Accusing Kashyap of being a closet right-winger is about as absurd a charge as I can think. Similarly with the rest of the film one can certainly dissent in all sorts of ways but to suggest the film has right-wing politics is rather remarkable based on everything I know about the film and Kashyap’s previous works.

    This is though a problem not only with Partha Chatterjee. The academic left often goes deeply wrong and really off the rails in India when it starts defining just about every brand of politics and thought that isn’t totally on the left (in the ways they would define) as simply oriented along a right-wing spectrum. The word Chatterjee is probably looking for here is ‘conformism’. If one were to substitute this word for ‘right-wing’ everywhere it occurs in this article the piece would at least be legible. I have very often critiqued and criticized various films for all kinds of conformism. But the latter is not automatically right-wing. And here one of the elementary methodological problems is that the ‘left’ is defined in very specific terms so that anyone who does not subscribe to such a position can be excluded from the group. On the other hand the ‘right’ is defined as an abstraction or as ‘everything’ that you cannot put into the box of ‘leftist’ ideology. From here it is easy to call every other person and work a right-wing one.

    Once again ‘conformism’ is problematic enough (for very many reasons) and doesn’t need to be exaggerated into ‘right-wing’ labeling. It is certainly fair to suggest that anything that isn’t ‘revolutionary’ enough in a Marxist sense or that doesn’t upset the existing institutional categories enough maintains the hegemony of the present and is in a sense props up a conservative framework. But this is not the same as ‘right-wing’. The latter is a specific ideological set, the former is about maintaining status quo which might or might not be tilted in a right-wing direction. One cannot just confuse the two.

    Ultimately Chatterjee’s piece is also the latest symptom of Indian academia’s very lazy engagement (if at all) with popular cinema. Elsewhere the same author is far more shrewd and astute.

    I am as alert to ‘right’wing’ ideological complicity as anyone else but to call Kashyap guilty of this is more than ridiculous. And even without seeing GoW I am very confident this cannot be the case here.

    • Thank you Satyam — you’ve saved me a rant today!!!

      • The Indian left — when it comes to “popular culture” — can make one ashamed of being a leftie! [Older thread here, that I've previously posted here.]

        Excerpt: “The intention of the director, for all his grandiose posturing, appears to be the manufacture of harmless entertainment; the kind that excites, even titillates, the economically deprived, giving them false hope in the form of Sardar Khan, the son of Shahid Khan, a slain bodyguard of a rising gangster. …The structure of the film is misleading, much like the structure of the Indian economy, if one can indulge in a bit of levity. A number of red herrings are thrown at the viewer; there is some chit-chat about the state of coal mines and the deplorable treatment of miners during British rule and how the conditions have not changed in independent India, but nothing develops organically in relation to the narrative. Kashyap and his scriptwriters have somehow sketched in the background to tell the story of Sardar Khan, a gangster.”

        Um, what would Chatterjee have him do, somehow sketch in the story of a gangster to tell the story of the coal industry?!

        Excerpt: “Sardar Khan is a thoroughly repulsive character; he will kill without any twinge of conscience and fornicate as and when he has the urge.”

        Truly, the Indian Left (and, as the moral police remind us everyday, Right) are the last refuges of bankrupt Victorianism.

        Excerpt: “In its intention and politics it appears to be inspired by the Godfather Trilogy (Coppola) and Kill Bill I and II (Quentin Tarantino), both films espousing, of course without intending to, hard-line right-wing politics. The irony suggested is intentional, not many American film-makers have had the guts to be openly political since the McCarthy witch-hunt in the late 1940s. Coppola’s study of the Mafia in The Godfather is not critical enough, and, at times, without intending to, is admiring of the gangsters of Italian origin, who well-nigh pulverised social and political life in the U.S. Tarantino’s Kill Bill is nothing more than a tale of blood, gore and revenge; utterly nihilistic.”

        Uh, what? The easy conflation of “nihilistic” and “hard-line right-wing politics” suggests a confusion of philosophical categories. And “not many American film-makers have had the guts to be openly political since the McCarthy witch-hunt in the late 1940s” — I mean, when will such otherwise fine minds get out of the Cold War?!

        • Still haven’t seen GoW (refused to do so without a proper print) but that preposterous criticism of the Godfather (along with certain films from Martin Scorsese’s career) is something one comes across from time to time in American pop culture writing – and irrespective of the source of the criticism (whether it’s left or right wingers that decry violence or sexuality on film) it represents a colossal failure in “reading” the work. I remember some time ago Rosenbaum arguing against Philip Lopate’s rather thoughtless criticism of Jarmusch along the same political lines. India unfortunately lacks the “oversight” to combat this kind of thing, barring the blogosphere.

        • PS — not to flog a dead horse, but Chatterjee also calls Kashyap’s politics “covertly right-wing,” without a shred of evidence to this effect. It’s really slanderous.

      • In fact I was too kind. The piece is not just ‘deeply flawed’. It simply cannot be taken seriously!

    • “Ultimately Chatterjee’s piece is also the latest symptom of Indian academia’s very lazy engagement (if at all) with popular cinema.”

      Yes, and this is a point Q touched on in his “The Resented” piece very effectively.

    • Anurag of वासेपुर ‏@ankash1009

      Humne to itna kaha tha,Wassypur mein Kabutar 1 pankh se udta hai,ab uspe koi kehta hai Left-Wing Hai,koi bolta hai Right-Wing hai,kya karein

      Satyam ‏@Satyamk

      @ankash1009 You should have specified whether that one wing was on its right or left!

    • Thanks satyam..
      this seems to be the real reason for this angry commie( another Bong, what a surprise..LOL), these chataejees want the state/police to be forever helpless and not nab the commies/terrorists…(read Ms Roy )…..wah wah ..

      “There is a scene of a young suspect running for his life from several overweight, middle-aged policemen, for what seems to be an eternity. Against all norms of logic the boy is caught; more so, if one keeps in mind a newspaper report that said a middle-aged policeman, appearing for a physical fitness test prior to promotion, collapsed and died after running a kilometre. The metaphor that Kashyap uses is not cinematic, it is a literal expression of the saying, “Nobody can escape from the long arm of the law.” What exactly is his political or philosophical thesis in this film?”

  17. KanchanDas Gupta-
    1.At fancy dinner much breast-beating for B’deshi immigrants. I suggested they accommodate B’deshis at home. Horrified silence followed. 1/2

    2.I pointed to lilly pond in host’s garden and said “Their kids could frolic there like they would in B’deshi ponds.” Icicles in the air.

    3.So long as Bangladeshi immigrants piss on Bodos, it’s fine with the mombatti crowd.

    • ROFLOL. Now you know why I have problems with “intellectuals”…sochetay hi nahi.
      Waisey Racky, you should see Rajneeti and GOW side by side, to admire
      (A) what Bajpai has done in both
      (B) to see what a bollywood commercial cinema and “rooted” cinema kaa difference both made by smart directors.
      Don’t know why so many people have problem appreciating or criticizing GoW. Shaadhi kaa laddu ki tarah…khaya toh pachtavo naa khaya toh pachtavo. Cannot praise…cannot criticize this movie without getting into controversy. GoW cannot be ignored, for sure.

  18. A brilliant post qalander-cheers
    Will read properly after viewing the movie…

  19. Just saw this film. I’d prefer to do a piece that looks at both parts whenever the second one come out on DVD, but I’ll say this. My initial impression is not a particularly strong one. There’s some good stuff here, especially in the way of the performances and the music, but it really just feels like Rakth Charitra redux. Surprised I haven’t seen more pieces making this point. In any case, this film, unlike RC-1, simply drags beyond a point. Ultimately I believe I prefer Varma’s first chapter to this one…

    More to come though after I watch part 2.

    • Interesting — based on some recent discussions on SS, I’ve ordered RC 1 and 2, but haven’t yet seen the films…

      • Think it’s his most worthwhile work since Company. Perhaps his most ambitious work ever and a duo I’d take over the Sarkar series. This is not to say it’s the best or most balanced work he’s done. Some of his rather crazy technical gestures are still at play. But there’s much more offered here than the standard Varma film over the past ten years. I’ve written on it, and will do the same for GOW once I see both parts. Don’t mean to be overly harsh on Kashyaps work just don’t think it’s visually as interesting as Varma’s series or moves with the same confidence and focus.

        • I’d agree that this double is among his strongest works and certainly one that I see myself returning to more often than many others within his oeuvre.

        • Rakt Charitra is a pathetic film.absolutely senseless and ridiculous.
          to compare gow with rakt charitra is like comparinf apcalypse now with pearl harbor…..not withstanding the fact that pearl harbor will appear as a classic when pitted again rakt charitra….which is childish and maudlin and a typical bollywood fare of the worst sort in its depiction of violence and gore and gang baazi.tottally divorced from the real….and flawed with a capital F.

          • So…you didn’t like it?

          • If it is RGV movie…just stay away. I think he has completely lost it!

          • Anjali, to quote someone you completely missed the point of the film and/or didn’t understand anything. Again to quote the same person the RC double is comparable to the Iliad and Odyssey combined. In fact RGV is India’s greatest director ever. Possibly greatest artist in any field.

          • @All

            And I am the Best commentator on blogsphere :P

          • Satyam, I wonder who that mystery person is? We all have our biases. I like Govinda a lot in Ravaan and got all sorts of labels applied to me for saying so. You like a certain wooden actor a lot and won’t consider that hyperbole at all while the pretty much whole world rolls their eyes (with fews excpetions here on this blog).
            @bliss: you indeed are best commentator…I said so this morning. Good to know that we all don’t suffer from humility syndrome.

  20. Leaving aside discussions on the greatness (or lack) of GOW, IMO, Nawazuddin Siddiqui deserves to win some noted Best Actor awards for his stellar performance. The guy is an absolute revelation. His portrayals of various characters in PST, Kahaani and GOW are so different, with such excellent etching of his characterizations. The guy just steals scenes away. But knowing Bollywood, I would not be surprised if he is totally ignored by the nepotistic juries.

    • he won’t win anything. If he’s lucky he’ll get a critic’s award or something while more esteemed actors win for ETT or something!

      • Since nepotism was mentioned, I was thinking of a someone who is “thepian” in many people’s eyes on this blog…but I will go easy on you today Satyam :-(
        I didn’t find one lousy actor/acting in GoW. I think apart from casting a good set of capable actors, it is also mark of a good director. Mahesh Bhatt comes to my mind…he could get even bad actors to do good work in all his movies (with exception of one heroine for whom he couldn’t do much).

        • “I didn’t find one lousy actor/acting in GoW.”
          Totally agree. Where does Kashyap find these faces from, while the rest of the industry indeed wallows in the mediocrity of actors.

          • Nykavi
            “Where does Kashyap find these faces from, while the rest of the industry indeed wallows in the mediocrity of actors.”

            what is business for others is passion for kashyap.
            you can see this passion when he speaks…you can see the honesty that says: “all i want to do is make good films…..all other considerations are secondary”.
            this is something which is visibly lacking in most other directors.
            they make films for box office….take into account the bollywood family waad and other considerations while casting. no wonder it shows in their works.

            Another thing is intelligence and cinematic intuition. He is intellectually a superior being than any other director in bollywood…its as simple as that.
            he is ahead of mani ratnam as far as intelligence in his films are concerned.the movie gulaal has a more avant garde and self referential…modernist theme…than the social commentary done in films like roza,bombay,etc…..they are now hackneyed and cliched themes….
            kashyap is the only film director who has woken up to the 21st century modernity.the fact he is a voracious reader has contributed immensely to this development.
            mani tried to look and sound modern in raavan….but made a mess.directors like him were great ONCE UPON A TIME..no doubt…but they are obsolete now…they can articulate the modern anxieties the way a more contemporary director like banerjee or kashyap can.
            they can only wallow in their past acquired celebrityhood….

            the last thing that i would like to add here is the fact that kashyap has suffered so much…… in the way the bollywood treated him like a pariah dog….these experiences have enhanced the quality of EDGINESS….in his works. his films have the quality of a visiting vengeance ….
            i have a feeling ..this aspect is the reason why he connects with the youths….the underdog syndrome…goran ivanisevic defeating pete sampras….

          • Anjali, one day I’d love to see the works of this Anurag Kashyap you keep describing. Haven’t yet been able to see one of these films. Want to do so before he crosses Plato for intellect.

          • Agree with nykavi and anjali..
            “the last thing that i would like to add here is the fact that kashyap has suffered so much…… in the way the bollywood treated him like a pariah dog….these experiences have enhanced the quality of EDGINESS….in his works. his films have the quality of a visiting vengeance ….
            i have a feeling ..this aspect is the reason why he connects with the youths….the underdog syndrome…goran ivanisevic defeating pete sampras….”
            Forget about kashyap– appreciate this thought provoking writing folks ..
            Btw anjali : did u check out ETT ;-)

          • @ satyam
            “Anjali, one day I’d love to see the works of this Anurag Kashyap you keep describing.”

            Watch Gangs of Wasseypur :-)
            Have been hearing rumors Kashyap is going to post the uncut 7 hr 20 min version of GOW..on net after the DvD release. Waiting eagerly…will bring a lot of things into perspective and clear some cobwebs.

          • “Another thing is intelligence and cinematic intuition. He is intellectually a superior being than any other director in bollywood…its as simple as that.
            he is ahead of mani ratnam as far as intelligence in his films are concerned.the movie gulaal has a more avant garde and self referential…modernist theme…than the social commentary done in films like roza,bombay,etc…..they are now hackneyed and cliched themes….”

            yup who that ch****a mani ratnam is in front of great kashyap

            bombay was released just after 93 riots and roza when kashmir was at peak and what was the significance of gulal in a big way and what it was for indian cinema and these 2 names are just his hindi work whille in his native work political variety is immense and one of his movies is part of times best list of 100 movies of all times …the only indian movie along with pyasa and that is nayagan

            kashyap who films are beginning to go to festival while ratnam’s movie are winning them for ages even raavan for cannes

            if you want to compare it should be valid first:

            bombay was part of trilogy and that includes roza and dil se tackling much real issues of separatism and for record maximum new talent to indian cinema is given by this man including two great composers rahman and raja

          • and ya goran defeated sampras just once in wimbledon but never dominated him because he just relied on big serve which sampras succumb to when he defeated he was not undergog infact was part of top 10

            for us indian biggest move was when leander paes defeated sampas in 98…a real underdog without much support of system

            its good to be modern but one never has to forget one’s root

          • @ rockstar
            while ratnam’s movie are winning them for ages even raavan for cannes

            what did raavan win at cannes?
            under which category was it screened..and what award did it win?

          • on which category gow won…

            can’t see it on cannes official site apart from pr story …please enlighten me

            that ch***a ratnam is padam shri and has 6 national wards:

            from wiki:

            Ratnam is highly credited for having revolutionized the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema.[4] He has made films with a variety of genres and a majority of his films are characterized by a string of Socio-political themes.[87] It was mainly because of this most of his films have garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success.[87]
            With his idea of combining art and commercial elements, Ratnam was referred for bringing new dimension to the South Asian film industry.[87] Many of his films have taken inspirations from real-life incidents such as Nayagan, Bombay, Iruvar and films like Thalapathi and Raavan were based on Indian epics.[2] He is lauded for his casting in each of his films—he said in an interview, “I am not a director who performs and shows. I discuss the role, the scene with my actors and let them bring life to it”.[2]
            Ratnam is also well recognized outside India with a retrospective of his films held at various film festivals around the world such as Toronto International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Tokyo Filmex and Birmingham International Film Festival.[57] His films are being screened regularly at many film festivals such as Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival.[57]
            Ratnam’s aspiration towards films grew up watching films of K. Balachander, Guru Dutt and Sivaji Ganesan.[88] His is greatly influenced by the film-making styles of Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Ingmar Bergman.[88]
            The Government of India honoured Ratnam with Padma Shri in 2002.[89] He has won several National Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, Filmfare Awards South and state awards. Apart from these awards, many of his films have been screened at various film festivals and have won numerous accolades. Geethanjali, directed by him won the Golden Lotus Award for Best Popular Film at the 37th National Film Awards. Other films like Mouna Ragam, Anjali, and Kannathil Muthamittal have won the Best Regional Film awards at the National Film Awards. Two of his films, Roja and Bombay have won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. The former was also nominated for Best Film category at the Moscow International Film Festival.[90] In 2010, Ratnam was honoured with Jaeger-Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.[

          • Btw rockstar
            An not contesting mani ratnams standing-rank him amongs Indias top four currently. (of not the top!)
            But can’t help feel curious of why u hate kashyap so much..
            Forget his utterings, forget his public posturings–
            Do u really feel his films are that crap
            Ps: u seem to be on a ‘ch…’ Spree somehow …
            And are constantly using it for Mani ratnam -the guy u are ‘defending’ -ironic isn’t it :-)

          • @ rockstar
            so finally the wikipedia revelations are coming out.
            you one sentence dogmatic assertions long made me suspect they are coming from some foreign source( other than your mind)
            your suraj ka saatva ghoda and quitters,etc

            btw…gow was shown under director’s fortnight category…incidentally the same category under which many of scorcese early films had been shown.its aim is to showcase budding talent.
            you have still not answered me…even if raavan won no award at cannes….be kind enuff to specify under which official/unofficial category was it screened.
            do tell me ..has a single film of ratnam been shown in all the official/unofficial categories at cannes?

          • aa: you are the voice of reason and we are mere mortals and let we have our choices as i am not as insightful as you

            enjoy

          • @anjali

            let them come out and whats your point atleast i am talking on your point rather than busy analysing you and your so called thoughts

            is it there on cannes site…show me… atleast i am showing something rather than doing empty talks of my mind

            if you have problems with quitters and sksg i can’t help you

          • “aa: you are the voice of reason and we are mere mortals and let we have our choices as i am not as insightful as you”
            Thanx rockstar :-)

          • @ rockstar
            A trailer of Mani Ratnam’s bilingual Raavan/Raavanan was screened to the media here today. Timed to coincide with the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, when journalists from the world over assemble here, the event was attended by the lead stars of the movie, Vikram, Abhishek Bachchan and

            http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Archived-Stories/Raavan-unveiled-at-Cannes/Article1-544892.aspx

            Raavan was never shown at cannes….only a 5 min trailer was shown by the producers( at their own considerable expense) for promotion purposes.

            it was never selected in any of the official/un official category…and was never shown.
            all is hype.
            the self delusional mani ratnam was thinking finally he has made a crossover film that will appeal to the global audience…let alone global even the bo rejected him!..na idhar ke rahe na udhar ke rahe!

            the point i have been trying to bring home is learn to face the facts…and don’t form decisions hawa mein.
            all ur so called assertions and opinions about cinema are in hawa mein.
            this is something which i find intolerable.be humble and learn to form ur own opinion first…then yu can use wiki sources to supplement/complement ur opinions.
            dont go blind…or yu will keep falling a prey to rumors like raavan was shown at cannes.

          • You’re not aware of all the facts. Indeed Raavan wasn’t screened at Cannes but to show a film out of competition is not a big deal there anyway. a number of commercial filmmakers have done this. GoW was shown as part of the Director’s Fortnight which is an ‘out of competition’ category because it is not eligible for the central awards though films here are eligible for the Camera D’Or award (as are those in the Un Certain Regard) category. In fact the Director’s Fortnight came up as an alternative to the main show. GoW still deserves credit but not the kind you think it does. Just because it’s ‘in’ Cannes doesn’t mean everything is equal.

            Ratnam did screen Raavan/Raavanan at a number of festivals, in and out of competition. At Venice he got a great response and won an award too:

            http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/how-khalnayak-anticipates-raavan/#comment-91393

            So you’re either deeply unaware of the facts or you’re deeply misleading on what you’re saying. You might be in an extended argument with Rockstar but to characterize Rathnam in the ways you have is extremely non-serious.

          • i thought i have spammed alot today but you have forced me to write one

            http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-05-16/india/28301501_1_indian-film-film-festival-cannes

            these directors are going there for their future fiananciers and distributors and there is only kashyap who is bringing hype everywhere by this so called promotion strategy as he needsa hype can’r recall a self delusioned ranam needing this stuff in his long long career cmmon

            and ya abusing ratnam or other legends daily will not make kashyap the greatest…it only shows insecurity nothing more

            let kashyap first make one significant or impactful movie first which changes the bar technically or commercially

            (happy atleast he is getting some recognition after more than 15 years in industry)

          • “It’s nothing but mutual masturbation,” expostulates Sheetal Talwar from Cannes after the ‘India Party’ on Monday night which Talwar describes in his livid condition as “frigging farce and waste of the Indian government’s precious money.”

            Producer Sheetal Talwar who is a regular at the annual Cannes jamboree, says this year’s report-card for Bollywood at Cannes is deplorable. “We’re a f…ng joke at Cannes. Every year we hear of this or that film going to Cannes .The fact is, hardly any Indian ever makes it into the competitive section. Even this year apart from Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, all the other films that you hear about being at Cannes are in non-competitive sections. You only have to go through Cannes’ official programme to realize the truth of what I am saying.”

            http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-25/news-interviews/31851756_1_cannes-nfdc-indian-pavilion

          • Personally I don’t care a damn about getting screened at Cannes or Sundance or other such places either as competitive or even otherwise!!
            Why does one need the ‘approval’ from those
            To heck with it..
            Btw know some folks whose short films got screened –many times it’s academy of the ‘category’ or the folks u know (yes even there–obviously one has to make a bare minimum standard stuff!!)
            Why does one have to pull kashyap or mani down like this Cannes or not!!
            IMO both are excellent film makers
            Whilst it is currently more acceptable to acknowledge mani, with time, I’m sure even kashyap will come up with something uniquely marvellous and celebrated in the ‘west’ that folks here will find difficult to ‘run down’
            Err I’m wrong –it’s never difficult to find points to run down something good though …

          • I don’t agree with either extremist position on Cannes or any other festival of repute. It all depends on contexts. There is politics at these festivals much like anywhere else. And certainly a Cannes screening, even in competition, is not the last word on a film. But one can’t be dismissive either. It is a prestigious festival where cinema of a certain quality is general represented irrespective of what eventually wins. More importantly though it’s not Cannes or Venice or the Oscars or what have you. These are great symbols of international prestige for the ‘colonized’. I understand that and I am not necessarily disdainful of this aspiration either. However the larger problem here is that for many people these labels are always used to limit the discussion on cinema, never to enlarge it. So if a film makes it to some festival, makes some waves in this sense there is a kind of ‘Nazism’ of opinion that forms around these things. No one must disagree! And this is part of a larger tendency where people similarly wish to silence all debate one way or the other based on box office returns, media reviews, etc etc. The whole obsession with Western awards and festivals is part and parcel of the same kind of thinking. One should work towards expanding these discussions, not curtailing their boundaries. Many tend to be afraid of counter-opinions because they have the illusion that there’s one right, one correct opinion. There isn’t any such thing. No matter how great the figure or body of work. It all depends on perspective. The rest is about critical fashions and political agendas. But this also does not mean that ‘anything goes’! Because whatever view one takes on something it has to be minimally informed IF one is going to make important claims on the same. I can say ‘I love Sholay’ and that will be the end of the matter. If I on the other hand state that ‘Sholay is the greatest Indian film’ I might be asked to explain myself! and just saying the film made me smile or cry or love my wife and kids more isn’t good enough!

        • My answer will always remain the same as many times as this question is raised.. I am very happy to hold common opinions with Rathnam and Mehra and some others on this matter. Because it is my birthday I too shall go easy on you and not complete that thought!

          • You mean those who are not repeating him in their next. Sorry couldn’t resist. Anyhow. Enough of bullying. You should try to understand the very same sentiments we experience (Kashyap or movie or whatever we might be fan of…it will always be irrational to set of people or even majority of people…).

          • I mean those who’ve repeating him multiple times when you were learning how to count!

            And I don’t stop anyone from experiencing any kind of ‘sentiments’!

        • Just saw this — am busy so a proper greeting later today when free
          But
          Happy birthday to satyam
          Let’s give him some bday bumps
          (& take out the ghost of abhishrek and Rohan sippy from his system!) :-)
          On a serious note–
          Best wishes
          What are your plans for today and how many candles should we get :-)

          • thanks Alex..

            “(& take out the ghost of abhishrek and Rohan sippy from his system!) :-)”

            oh no… then I’ll lack all sense of taste!

          • “oh no… then I’ll lack all sense of taste!”
            Don’t worry – u will be better off !!
            I’ve treated some afflicted with Srk and Imran khan addiction !!
            This shouldn’t be more difficult :-)

          • where did you drive them? Into the arms of Cocktail?

          • “where did you drive them? Into the arms of Cocktail?”
            Hahaa that was the ‘comment of the day!’
            Fitting for a birthday buoy..
            Infact both those in question are now not even cummenting–forget openly going orgasmic about Imran khan and Srk
            Yes : they seem to have joined my ‘cocktail cult’ hesitatingly ..
            Btw hope Amy and oldgold are not reading this ;-)

  21. I’ll also echo Q’s sentiment here. The performance of the film for me (at least the first part) wasn’t Nawazuddin but the actor who played Shahid Khan. That guy cut such a memorable, Leonesque figure one really missed his presence once we was dispatched. I prefered him to Bajpai who is fine here but not nearly as “timeless” a figure as the epic framework required here.

  22. @ Di –
    Agree with your points on GOW
    Also not sure why your liking govinda in raavan should be mocked at here ( without mocking many others least of all the lead actor!)
    On a related note- why did A director of manis calibre have to resort to govinda jumping like a monkey to ‘complete the similarity’ to the epic!!
    Anyhow …

    • Agree with that (“jumping like a monkey to ‘complete the similarity’ to the epic”) but still Govinda delivered as directed, is my point. You should see the tamil version’s govinda counterpart to know what I am saying (the physical-the body language). As far as Abhi goes: I think lot of Amitabh’s movies like Kala Pattar etc..he can come up with layered portrayal having gone thru’ the hardships in life himself. Amjad slept on sets in same sweaty,grungy clothes to play his daku-gabbar. I don’t know if Abhi goes thru’ some of this proccess or not. For Yuva, Ratnam worked with him a lot….going all the way to the childhood experiences of the character. If you don’t understand what you are doing, how are you going to act it through your eyes…you have to “feel” the character and his angst. If you don’t know how Dalit is spelled forget his experiences, it will just end up with a man with charcoal face on the camera. People like H.Roshan are not necessarily more talented or more intelligent but they are more hard working…I would say the same about Aamir. Not that he is gifted but just very hardworking…his retakes are legendary in movie business. And then that hardwork shows on the screen and rewarded on B.O.
      Bottom line is that Abhi will never be Ompur or Nawaz. He should prolly focus on his “type” of roles. Like his last movie. The ones that get him 100 crore club pronto.

      • Agree Di
        U r back with a bang :-)
        Ps : btw I don’t wanna totall rip apart abhishrek either..
        Hope he makes his latest box office success pay and builds a career out of it
        Go unabashedly box office for a while–prestige etc can follow later..
        Di -which movies have u seen lately -any ‘reviewz’ ..

      • thanks for telling us a lot of these things which are as ‘factual’ as fiction..!

        • Do you mean his last movie didn’t make 100Crore?!?

          • I must have missed that one ‘fact’ in your long comment. Hard to find a needle in a haystack..

          • Satyam : don’t think Di is saying anything nonsensical
            She has a very reasonable point
            And pray stop putting her down just bcos she has an alternate view point / is a female.. :-)
            All this talk of ‘progressive/regressive’ and ‘gender equality’ is good but has to seep in
            Hohoho
            Clappping folks …

          • “Satyam : don’t think Di is saying anything nonsensical”

            How would you know?!

            Sorry Alex, couldn’t resist it!

          • In other words –
            The ‘respectable’ outcome for u satyam also is –
            Join my ‘cocktail’ cult!!!
            U will be looked after (like others) :-)

  23. to be frank ratnam suffered hear attack during that movie(that to his 3rd one) just beleive he was not upto his top form both physically and creatively even the greatest director ever of world cinema anurag kashyap(with pun intended) wrote dialogues for goal and johar’s master piece qurbaan after what he wrote for mani’s yuva

  24. Agree that the ‘heart attack’ may have something to do with it..
    Or else one can’t expect this sort of lack of directin from Mani..
    Btw all makers have a list of ‘lesser works’ –
    Including kashyap and mani..
    There’s no maker who creates only ‘great’ stuff ..
    Except those who pack up after one or two great films !!
    Ps: this was mentioned not to ‘belittle’ the obviously splendid ratnam- but to put into perspective the debacle of raavan-an otherwise good idea but flawed in execution..

    • this wasn’t his first heart attack.. and actually since the early 90s when Rathnam embarked on a more ambitious kind of filmmaking (punctuated with more commercial efforts at times) his films have most failed. The only thing different about Raavan’s Hindi reception was the illiteracy of the critics and/or their agendas. No one complained for the Tamil version, even those who didn’t like it were hardly mauling it. But all his more interesting films in Tamil and Hindi have failed, some saved by the initial, but failures nonetheless. Even with Rajnikant Rathnam didn’t get a proper success!

      The problem isn’t Raavan as much as folks who are completely unaware of the relevant histories here. which doesn’t mean one cannot criticize Raavan. Just that one should know the facts.

      • rajni got lot of critical acclaim for talapathi though and nayagan is kamal’s best work

        in hindi cinema
        ;

        dil se was the the first movie to enter into u.k top 10 i guess and it established srk’s overseas dominance and abhishek has been utilised to well in guru and yuva to

  25. But y did poor govinda need to literally jump onto trees et al
    Ps- lately Ive felt that probably it much of abhishreks fault in raavan
    As for ash – she did all she could to salvage the situation
    Btw I can rarely find fault in ash ( of those days!)

    • Only a natural born dancer could have done this so effortlessly “jump onto trees et al”.
      Personally, I think it was poor script (even though the idea was gr8). Ravaan was neither rooted/realistic cinema nor was it commercial. I think Ratnam was bit confused here. When Kashyap markets his movies, he cares less if they are successful as long as they are critically acclaimed and no one loses money..he is true to himself and his convinctions. I think Ratnam got lot more criticism because he had larger canvas and must have doobaoed lot of financier’s money and our protagonist got swindled in the process in terms of his reputation/image. BTW: did you see GoW yet Alex?

  26. with the comments of some regulars this blog has become an Alice in Wonderland film school. every day one is taken down the knucker-hole. Feel like an ingrate for even arguing. Those words haunt me — you must be mad or you wouldn’t be here!

    • “Alice in Wonderland film school”. lolz. Atleast it is fun, magical ride down there. Not to mention she wakes up in the end to reality.

      You have to agree though that Iruvar was far-far-far superior to Ravan or Ravanan.

      • I am a bit skeptical of Iruvar fans who pop up only when it’s a question of Raavan. Much like the fans Vikram gained overnight in Hindi circles.

        But there’s another reason why this kind of framing is less than honest. I have never called Raavan Rathnam’s greatest film. So this whole line of ‘you must admit it’s less than Iruvar…’ means nothing (what next? less than Pathar Panchali?!). of course as a purely logical issue being secondary to Iruvar when the director in question is Rathnam is hardly dishonorable! Of course I have never called it secondary to Iruvar either. These are just attempts to constantly try and rewrite the argument to simply establish some sort of negative perspective on a film. So for example I like Sangam a lot but I could keep saying ‘it’s not Awara’ or ‘it’s not Shree 420, ‘it’s not Jagte Raho’ and so on. All of this would be true but it would hardly discredit Sangam.

        Debates have to be honest and/or ethical. Just making grand statements without having an adequate understanding of things isn’t exactly a serious opinion. By the same token if you don’t like my views on Raavan or don’t agree with them pull up my pieces and comments and tell me what specifically you don’t agree with (I know you don’t like the film, I don’t have a problem with that). That’s where a debate can begin. If someone challenges me on my views on a film one way or the other I have a response. In fact I take great pains to put up comprehensive responses. But those who cannot or will not debate on the specifics find the easy way out — oh he’s just spinning things to support his favorite star or film. This kind of laziness if not downright dishonesty can be used in any situation.

        At any rate this desperation to establish that Raavan isn’t worthy of any discussion or praise or the same for Abhishek or the same for Rohan Sippy or whatever the example happens to be.. this says something not about me but about those who question me? if you don’t like a film talk about it at length, I think all kinds of negative views on Raavan are perfectly valid, but the terms of such a critique cannot be of the kind I’ve seen from the film’s most rabid critics. Similarly I am all for iconoclastic views elsewhere but simply saying things bombastically doesn’t mean very much — for anyone who knows a little bit about this stuff! People are unfortunately misinformed on both counts. A lot of people say things and (hate to be so blunt about it) make fools of themselves but they’re completely unaware of this. Ignorance has its advantages! One is too polite or at least civil to say too much beyond a point but people expose themselves very easily on this score. And the same would be true in any other area.

        • Ravaan to Mani Ratnam is Non smoking to Kashyap. Even maestro’s make product that is less than worthy of their talents. For me Ratnam could have done much-much better in Ravaan, knowing what he is capable of. We had had this debate for very long time. I had even watched it second time (in case I was not able to *see* what you saw). Unfortunately even though the movie has mind blowing visuals/cinematography, it fails at many levels if not every other level….and I am not talking of B.O.
          You can hardly pick a flaw in Iruvar, on the other hand…it is perfection in every way, a delight to watch over and over and again!

          • I don’t mind declaring that I loved ‘no smoking’
            If it was ‘pretentious’, most of the European auteur circuit is more of the same..
            I adored ‘no smoking’
            Infact suggest those who didn’t like it to revisit after ten years or so … :-)
            Just my humble opinion…

          • Don’t like No Smoking very much but it’s possibly Kashyap’s most interesting film.

          • again you state your opinions as objective ones. I can certainly pick problems in Iruvar, I have at points in the past, depending on the context sometimes I highlight them, sometimes I don’t. Similarly the idea that Raavan fails at every level other than the cinematography is your opinion. which is absolutely fine but you have to bring yourself to a place where you can imagine an alternative opinion as equally valid. Not here how (even if people haven’t been reading) I have never had a problem with anyone who didn’t like Raavan or any other Rathnam film. But on the specifics I have indeed argued a lot because those were more ‘objective’ debates. The same for Abhishek. You find him wooden, I find him a fascinating actor, there isn’t a right or wrong opinion here. But if you insist that the opinion of the other side just isn’t valid that’s problematic. Again this too doesn’t mean anything goes. These debates always assume one is minimally informed about these things (as long as the debate isn’t completely subjective).

            The other crucial point to remember here is that depending on who we are, depending on our preferences, depending on even our understanding of things in any give area, we will not be equally open or appreciative of every work. There are certain very important filmmakers who don’t do anything for me. The same for some very great films. But I don’t start thinking that other opinions are invalid! Here even critical reviews don’t mean much. There are tons of films throughout movie history in every country of the world where films underwent radical changes in terms of their critical fortunes.

          • Haven’t watched GoW or even gulaal
            Have watched no smoking, dev d and black Friday–I don’t need any further proof really…
            Have noted a certain mocking condescending attitude to ‘no smoking’
            Ps– don’t really give such statements usually, but in my opinion, the lack of appreciation of the movie isn’t a problem with the maker –the viewers need some ‘education’ in cinema b4 being unleashed onto this sort of work…
            Here I have taken the risk of offending people but this is what I feel about it really,,,,
            Have been quiet about it but no more !!!!

          • I quite liked No Smoking too…

          • “The other crucial point to remember here is that depending on who we are, depending on our preferences, depending on even our understanding of things in any give area, we will not be equally open or appreciative of every work.”
            When I gave the above argument, you mowed me down…giving example of Kagaz kay Phool (guru dutt movie that was not appreciated in its time).
            ======
            And I always said that….one is open or appreciative based on one’s life experiences. But there is also that something that speaks to EVERYONE, be it non-hindi audience in Tamilnadu or Egypt, on Amitabh’s performances. I wonder why that something speaks only to you on Abhishek? Shouldn’t it reach out to every one, one and same? If an actor doesn’t have life experiences and lives in airconditioned vanity van and goes to switerland..how can he play a naxal type character? I wonder. But Nawaz or Irfan or bigb can pull it off because apart from being fine actors they also have gone through some of that struggle and pain that naxal may go thru’ or you really have to a gr8 artist to understand the pain of a naxal. So their performance won’t be wooden and would speak to one and all universally. If you indeed are in tremendous minority, then you should indeed take a good look and see if you prejudiced/biased.

          • These are very tired, vague, logically incoherent points that I’ve nonetheless responded to many times before. Not going to debate them all over again.

          • Di,

            ‘Tremendous Minority’ :) .. LOL

          • “If you indeed are in tremendous minority, then you should indeed take a good look and see if you prejudiced/biased.” :-)

          • “tremendous minority”
            Thats where courage of conviction comes from, I must say. When you are part of Tremendous minority (Abhi’s BO; Sattus love for Abhi; Anjali’s obsession of Kashyap etc etc) then you have to have the courage to “ekla chalo ray” ;-)

        • “I am a bit skeptical of Iruvar fans who pop up only when it’s a question of Raavan.”
          I have ALWAYS been a huge Iruvar fan..so much so that my tamil friends mock me!!! Unfortunately I cannot give out a layered criticism the way Anjali or Q on Iruvar or Ravan that would satisfy you. I may have during our previous discussion (I remember discussing a particular scene etc). Being a fan of Ratnam, I tried very hard to like Ravan and inspite of Ravan, I still think highly of him. If it makes a fool…so be it….for a fool thinks himself to be wise but a wise knows himself to be a fool.

          • That opinion doesn’t make you a fool at all. Your response is perfectly fine. That’s your personal reaction to a film. You don’t have to ‘try’ and like it either. However at the same time one should have some humility about what one can or cannot talk about. To be clear humility does not stop anyone from having an opinion. But it ought to stop them form running down other opinions that might be much more well-founded in the same sense! As an impressionistic matter I react to various Rahman songs in different ways but if I want to argue that a certain transition in one of his songs does or does not work I need to know a bit more about music! To be honest I have always found it the greatest joy to be able to revisit my opinions or presumptions or what have you when I come across writings I value. I have changed my mind on very many films and filmmakers and so on based on this. It doesn’t mean that I’ve started loving all those films. Not at all! But I have liked being informed, liked being educated. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a great name doing the educating or someone who is not well known at all. I have learned a lot of things from both kinds of folks.

        • Re: I am a bit skeptical of Iruvar fans who pop up only when it’s a question of Raavan. Much like the fans Vikram gained overnight in Hindi circles.

          LOL!!! There are quite a few of this.

      • “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
        Which road do I take? she asked.
        Where do you want to go? was his response.
        I don’t know, Alice answered.
        Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”

        MORAL: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

        • ^^^ reading that passage by ‘anjali singh’ made me LOL again wow :-)
          btw Satyam– i noted that on the facebook page, the photo of the girl is differnt now haha

          Another gow quote fresh from google–
          Sultan Qureshi: Ye wasseypur hai, yahaan kabootar bhi ek pankh se udta hai air dusre se apni ijjat bachata hai.

          This is Wasseypur (SATYAMSHOT), here even a pigeon flies with one wing and uses the other to hide his modesty.
          hahaha

    • OT,

      Amitabh Bachchan ‏@SrBachchan
      T 842 – Ok .. some advance news .. Looks like I shall be on FaceBook from tomorrow … looks like .. wait for confirmation !!

  27. I’m not blaming govinda here for ‘jumping onto trees’
    The poor guy has been called by a reputed thespian for the first. Time ever and is doing what he’s told..
    But was a bit surprised at Mani having to ‘underline’ the similarities reminiscent of kjo world somewhat
    On hind sight, even abhishrek wasn’t so kun at fault and tried his best ..
    But well, can’t blame Mano for having a ln off day due to a heart attack — can be forgiven in such an illustrious career
    And evn that film raavan had some ace moments…
    Ps : nope : haven’t seen GOW –have u -where’s your rview ..

  28. “Join my ‘cocktail’ cult!!!”

    One shouldn’t invite a guy to commit suicide on his birthday.

  29. GF: u are oblivious to some of the ‘perks’ it entails haha
    For those perks , satyam is ready for ‘suicide’ as well ( though wont admit here)
    And he has secretly signed the membership form as well :-)

  30. As for Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Faisal Khan, it is one screen role that will go on to define the genre. Much like Bhiku Mhatre or Langda Tyagi. Zeeshan Quadri as ‘Definite’ is an amazing find, and will go places really fast. But it is Huma Quereshi’s raw sexuality that sets the movie on fire. Huma makes most of our Bollywood’s 100 crore ladies look like insipid, sexless nannies. She is earthy, voluptuous and effortlessly gobbles up the screen. By any standards, GoW-2 is superb cinema. A must watch just to observe how seamlessly one gets drawn into the most terrible tale of revenge and retribution. But will it ever crack that 100 crore club? Naah. And that ‘crime’ will be held against it while a pretty shallow Ek Tha… will keep the industry folks rocking till the next monster hit comes along at Diwali. If great movies were only about great destinations, would we need the ‘Discovery Channel’?

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/politically-incorrect/entry/bollywood-s-100-crore-club

  31. Girish Kumar Says:

    I used to admire Anurag Kashyap when I saw his movies like Black Friday, No Smoking, which to me were the harbingers of the bold, new rebellious cinema that saw directly into the eyes of the traditional Bollywood establishment and dared them. That was it. Films like Dev D, Gulaal, Shaitan were mediocre at best. But then I do not wish to criticize Anurag Kashyap, as I think he should make the films he wants to make and not what I want him to make. GoW, the latest from Anurag Kashyap has nothing more to offer other than abuse, profanities delivered by the cast at the drop of the hat and over the top violence. GoW is a well made film but there is nothing great about that movie, be it cast, acting, plot etc.

  32. going just by the word count of the review of Part 1 and part 2, one can tell which one Q liked more….lol

  33. a brilliant piece on GoW there Q-Now that ive seen the film, must say its the most true to the setting
    and the nuances are mentioned
    Just that I enjoyed all the ‘verbal tics’ much more
    Even oiyush mishras voiceover was more of a character of its own….

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