Gangs of Wasseypur: A Trip to Our Innerness

Ravish is an engineering graduate and did his masters in Sanskrit from  JNU, New Delhi. He briefly pursued philosophy at JNU, and is  now an engineering personnel with the ONGC, Mehasana. He has also been involved in the cultural politics.


Anurag’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” is a rapture, rapture in our narrative of Gangsters. It does not narrate a tale of two giants in conflict with each other. It tells us the blood soaked story of a society that exists (within our own cities/towns) in accordance with its own rules. It captures the very logic of the world that runs parallel, however uncovered within the official history and sociology of our society. The world that silently appears in our public sphere mutely interacts with our everydayness, silently but firmly assert its presence and dissolves in what appears mundane. The existentiality of its habitants doesn’t lie in its locality but in the psyche that stretches from Sultana Daku to faizal Khan. Narrated in the background of murky coal business, sprawling from British era to early nineties, the story tells us the saga of at least three generations for whom life is defined by nothing but befuddling lasciviousness accosted by Vengeance.  The Sprawling Picaresque curated with series of discrete frames captures the existentiality of a referential world where the civil life of metropolis, laden with fictions of democratic and humane values, is as imaginary as the giggly soap of “Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu…” kind.

GoW is a trip to our innerness, a journey to some corner of our own cities, to a world that exists where most of us have grown up, are living and shall die. This is not a journey to a garrison where all influential Mafia’s sitting in safe heavens decides the fate of others. Wasseypur has a different logic, live-kill-live. Blood is in the phenomena in Wassypur and automatic (gun) is inspiration. The generations of sultana daku and Sahid khan are in consistent conflict with each other to snatch a little  wheat, coal, sand, scrap, fish (immaterial what the goods is) lying at the margins of “the Big” Imperial British, its successors TATA, BRILA, Thapars and the new satrap of this black heritage Ramadhir Singh. The inhabitants of wasseypur are not Dons, they do not have militia, they have their kith and kin that are revered by common glories and are inflicted by common inspiration of retribution. The Pathans, The Qureshies in the nineties are not killing each much for resources lying beneath and in around wasseypur, but for the sake of the imagined dominance that traditionally Qureshies have inherited and the Pathans lacked. Though the story is presented as the revenge saga of Sardar khan against Ramadhir Singh (this is the training we have to understand a hindi movie), Anurag’s narration goes beyond. Each frame in the movie reveals an aspect of the society that has only two operate variables: Blood and Flesh. Sardar Khan, and so many others, through his life oscillate between these two instincts. In Wasseypur, Anurag depicts, instincts are rules. The justification of these rules appears from imagined narrative of dominance that Qureshies and Pathans share in a hierarchical manner. At the confluence of these two instincts, so many wasseypurs in so many of our towns/cities exists. At the confluence of these two instincts, natives of wasseypur, eat, drink, work, love, marry, give birth and kill. Anurag’s GOW is a narration of the intertwined instincts that gives the society called wasseypur an existence that is alean to the imagination of ‘Shining’ or “Incredible” Indians. It asserts a Beingness to its natives distinct from what the suave citizen of metropolis of post-liberalisation inheres.

The saga drenched in blood and written on the canvas of coal is a departure from our traditional understanding of violence as an individualistic phenomenon in hindi movies. Individualistic violence is replaced here by the psyche that a society in its totality carries. GoW leads us to a condition where Sardar Khan, ramadhir Singh, the Qureshies, the pathans, coal, sand, fish and all that remains faints in the background. What persists is a penetrating lustful glance of hunters searching for Blood and Flesh. And that’s the rule of life in so many Wasseypurs.

Note: One must add, this world is alien for many who do not know their own Wasseypur.

One reply to “Gangs of Wasseypur: A Trip to Our Innerness

  1. My re-er-rogueview of ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. I have some business to opine. I bought the ticket to go & see the film & I come from the erstwhile state of this cinema’s Wasseypur & Dhanbad—Bihar whose location & mise-en-scene & dialect the film so painstakingly captures but……..alas! In the 18 reels of Part I travelling through voice-overs, disjointed local flavour songs, across pre-post-independence-thru the decades of coal mafia, private ownership, coal nationalisation, years of all the gore, the hyperbole, the internecine feuds, ‘keh ke lenge’ kinda edgy love affairs, marriages, relationships……………I got lost in trying to find a narrative or a character I could meet. My respect for ‘Godfather’, QuentinTarantino’s de-constructed aestheticization of violence, ‘Kala Pathar’–the searing screenplay of Salim-Javed cinema, the awe-inspiring narrative-standards thru countless films of Ray, Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee et all, went sky-rocketing. Tragic that so soon the talented Anurag Kashyap’s heavily funded cinema has lost its text and his characters have left him. But who am I to opine thus…the film is already funded for part 2!
    Signing off,
    Jiyo ho Bihar ke Muzaffarpur ke lalli

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