Gangs of Wasseypur’s sequel opens hurriedly to a tumultuous aftermath of Sardar Khan’s death. Danish Khan, Sardar Khan’s eldest son is lashing out at the cop. In the next scene, we see someone who’s watching all this from the sidelines. Literally. He could be a passerby for all we know, vicariously soaking in the pleasure of a street fight. But we know he is not a passerby, he is Sardar Khan’s younger son, Faizal Khan. He seems incapable of creating a ruckus about his Dad’s own death. The frail, useless, gullible Faizal Khan. Of course, we know the transformation will take place soon. And it does, not through any massive orchestrated shoot out in a broad day light, but in a pitch dark night, dominated by marijuana smoke.
The movie breezes through its first twenty minutes, a sharp contrast to its predecessor’s rather sedate opening. Maybe because the setting up is minimal here. And partly because the movie knows its strength – its protagonist, Faizal Khan. He is an even more fascinating character than his Dad, because you can’t use a bunch of adjectives to pin him down. Here is a man who lives in a limbo. He’s enamored by cinema and wants to live in a trance-like happy world, but his reality contradicts his whims, which results in his world being intriguingly dichotomous. The small towner in Faizal is a delight to watch. His Amitabhesque middle-parting hairdo, his fixation on wearing shades, failing to pop a cigarette in his mouth as skillfully as his on-screen heroes, and then superficially staring skywards in a melancholic fashion, when his wife sings him a Dil to Pagal Hai song in jail.
After letting his protagonist to fool around a bit, Kashyap then shifts his focus to the dynamics of life in Wasseypur. We meet the peripheral characters – Definite, Perpendicular, Tangent. And these kids’ stories are especially important in a social context, because it seeks to answer the question – what makes crime ripple across generation so easily, and so effectively? The answer could be found in Perpendicular’s and Definite’s story. The fact that these people do not see it as a crime. Taking up guns first begins frivolously, it then bestows power, which is addictive, and then there is no coming back. Or, clutching guns becomes a contemplative decision – borne either out of a desire to seek vengeance, or to sustain and protect one’s own life. The movie quite chillingly and effectively shows how kids are inducted and embroiled into this bloody world. Every perpendicular, Definite, even Fazial Khan was once a teenager Faizal Khan – someone content in mouthing inanities from his favorite movies, and drifting aimlessly, but without violence.
In most Bollywood movies, gangsters exist in some sort of a theatrical and exaggerated space. They would be either too somber, or will be too artificially glib. Very few movies treat them like real people. And that is this movie’s biggest strength – its unabashed celebration of real life’s absurdity. Kashyap designs majority of action sequences by exploiting an often neglected trait – common sense. He knows in real life people don’t run after each other with same intensity forever, and that’s why we had that darkly comical 8 minute chase in Black Friday. (Where the cop and the goon ultimately get tired of running, and begin walking). He uses a similar technique here. So we see Definite fidgeting with his pistol moments before trying to shoot someone. He then discovers his pistol won’t fire, and has to scurry for his life. Or, when Perpendicular is irked that his friend is wearing his pair of slippers, just outside a shop they ransacked minutes back. And then arguably, scratch arguably, categoricallythe stand out scene of the entire year for me, when Definite and his two accomplices plan to kill Qureshi in a vegetable market. Very few filmmakers can capture and celebrate the eccentricities of daily life in the way Kashyap can. These mishaps are absurdly comical in a way only real life could be. Thus these characters are real; they exist beyond their gangster bravodo, and are as frail as anyone else.
And as if Kashyap was not having enough fun, he ups the ante by ingeniously mixing the solemn visuals with inspired whimsical audio tracks. Sample this, Faizal Khan just manages to escape a shoot-out, he does that by jumping to the other side of the house from his roof. His facial muscles are contorted due to the pain he is in, and a song begins playing in the background ‘Upsetao nahin moora’. Or the sequence where Definite is being chased around the town, and Dil Chicha Leatherbegins playing in the background. The audio and visual are so out of sync with each other, but surprisingly they are not each other’s antidote, rather they palm slap each other with glee. Kashyap should consider directing a gangster movie sans any dialogues, but replete with more than two dozen songs.
The final confrontation between Faizal and Ramadhir could have been a bit better though. There’s just too much noise to register any arc completion. And thematically, the movie’s penultimate shot reminds of Gulaal – of an outlier reclaiming what he thinks he deserves.
Kashyap enters a familiar, much abused terrain and subverts it adroitly. The cliches are scampering to their burrows. Yes, that’s how it ought to be done.