Monday, July 02, 2012

Nine reasons why I liked Gangs of Wasseypur

(And why i am waiting for part 2)
!!!Spoiler alert!!!!

1. Transition of cultural icons (1941-1985) - Whether it was obvious references to Amitabh Bachchan, be it Fazlu's comment on Zanzeer v Deewar or women blowing kisses in cinemas, Sardar Khan announcing his threat to Ramaadheer Singh to the tune of Mithun's iconic Kasam Paida Karne Waale ki or opening scene circa 2004 showing perhaps the most overated saas bahu serial of our time. However clincher was hero worship of a docoit - "Sultana daaku" in pre independence days in village chaupals a la modern day Robin Hood.

2. Transition of music - Ik Bagal sung by Piyush Mishra is quite reminiscent of the numerous Mukesh songs in 50s. On the other Manmauji is sung in naughty 60s style. 80s are signed off by more electronic “Jiya ho” by ethereal Manoj Tiwary. In addition to these are folksy “Womaniya” and street number in “Aey Jawano’ which transcend eras but Sneha Khanwalkar (who apparently is 4th woman music composer in hindi film industry) has made sure that her music score mirrors the changing times of story weaved around 4 decades.

3. Myth of a monolithic muslim society in India – movie clearly shows fissures not only along Shia Sunni but also a class/ethnicity based divide of Qureshis v Pathans.

4. Pre and Post Independent India – Hardly anything changed for the worker class, be it wages or working conditions, which is a complete contrast to urban middle and upper classes that saw their much wider changes (and opportunities) in their lives.

5. References to sex in living room – as opposed to hindi movies treat this subject either in form of hyper-gyrations of item numbers or almost stupefying shot of two flowers converging as a visual metaphor for coitus. When Nagma gets pregnant, she finally gives in to her husband’s urges and give a reluctant permission to ‘shop’ around. Nice refresher to some of the ignorant people in our midst who have no empathy for either truck drivers (and their wives back in villages).

6. One Bihari culture – A Muslim (Badru Qureshi) gets his daughter’s wedding invite printed in Hindi, replete with a “sher” in devanagri script. Though muslims are shown to be living in ghetto like colonies, convergence of language, culture, clothes (most muslim women are shown in saree) is quite interesting

7. Its all about the economy stupid – Although overarching theme is about hatred and revenge, characters are not chasing each other in Sunny Deol style. As is shown by Sardar Khan’s transformation from being a crude goonda to a strongman who usurps a natural resource (water reservoir in the area) and creates a hegemony by supplying fish to a population whose demographics are changing (from Bihari to fish eating Bengalis).

8. Subtle references to inflation from bounty of 11 rupees in 1941 for a dacoit to “meher” of 1 lakh rupees in 70s.

9. And Last but not least – Hunter. Chutney music is such a refreshing change from overdose of Punjabi funk sounds of the day. With luck, we may see more Bihari musicians from Carib islands, Fiji and even Suriname (Dutch Bihari anyone?)

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