“Sometimes we need to look at something different, something that is closer to reality. We need to see a hero who is like us, in thought and in actions. This is exactly what Anurag Kashyap presents in his two-part project, “Gangs of Wasseypur.”
We are humans and we are clumsy. We lack the grace of a ballet dancer or an ice skater. We sometimes lose balance and fall. This is an undeniable truth of our lives. We can see hundreds of “fail” videos on the internet and all of them exist because people are clumsy. When we see people’s clumsiness in real life, we are amused. In movies too, this characteristic of the human race is shown by film makers.
Traditionally, a character is specifically assigned for this job. Such characters have been played by comedians or comic actors over the years. The job of these actors was to create humor by acting clumsily (take Asrani as the Jailor in Sholay for some perspective). While the director keeps the viewers entertained through this, the protagonist is seen as flawlessly charming not only in looks but also in actions. Why is it that the protagonist does everything gracefully? Is he not subject to human limitations? Yes, he is, but we don’t like to see that. We want our hero to do everything perfectly and gracefully.
But sometimes we need to look at something different, something that is closer to reality. We need to see a hero who is like us, in thought, and inactions. This is exactly what Anurag Kashyap presents in his two-part project, “Gangs of Wasseypur”. He has tried to show the reality of Coal Mafia in Bihar and Jharkhand in the rawest and honest form and has put in a lot of effort to do so. There are a lot of characters some of whom are courageous, some are coward and some are funny, but one thing that binds them together is their clumsiness. Anurag Kashyap has done a fine job using this clumsiness to add the element of humor in an otherwise dark duology. Just a look at the trailers of the two movies would tell you what I am talking about.
On a winter afternoon, Faizal is asleep. Fazlu wakes him up and tells him, “Are tere baap ko maar diya koi” (someone has assassinated your father), repeating it two or three times before Faizal realizes what has happened. He gets up and gets down the stairs (the camera is still, it is not following him). He stops and returns to wear his sandals. He fumbles a few times before successfully wearing it. This fumbling illustrates panic.
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Traditionally, dramatic music is used to illustrate emotions of shock and panic but Anurag Kashyap has kept it real by not using any music and showing what panic looks like in real life. There is a similar scene in The Godfather (1972) in which Michael Corleone gets the news that his father, Don Vito Corleone has been shot. His reaction is also very real, and there is no music, but Michael remains calm and does not panic much. But Faizal panics like any other normal person would under the circumstances. Anurag Kashyap has delivered a great example of realism in cinema by bringing a greater fidelity of real life to the performances of his characters.
In a godown, Sardar Khan is talking to his eldest son, Danish Khan while walking towards the door. As soon as he opens the door, shots are fired. It was an attempt on the life of Sardar Khan but only Danish is shot. Looking at the blood, Sardar Khan panics. Manoj Bajpai has performed brilliantly in this scene. His dialogue and expressions seem very real. Looking at his father panic, Danish tries to calm him by saying that he is fine and that there is no need to worry. But Sardar Khan is so overwhelmed with panic that he starts taking it out on Danish by slapping him and scolding him due to his preposterous stupidity, yelling, “Theek ka hai? Theek ka hai saala?” (what do you mean you’re fine, you idiot). This is a particularly long scene and must have been really difficult for the actors to shoot in a single take. First, there is the realization that Danish is shot. Then, there is a dilemma as to what shall be done. After deciding to take him to the hospital, Sardar Khan being unable to find the key of his Jeep, totally freaks out. He cannot keep his cool. He cannot handle the situation like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction.
Anurag Kashyap does not shy away from making the hero of his film look so clumsy and panicked. Sardar Khan is not calm and composed, he is jumpy and nervous like real humans. It is possible that people who remain calm in stressful situations exist in real life, but that’s not interesting to watch. Protagonists which are calm and composed under stressful situations are a cliché in Bollywood. Anurag Kashyap has created characters that are very fresh and original.
The realism in Gangs of Wasseypur is wonderful to watch, and it is not created as much by the costumes, locations, or language as is done by the characters. It is the characters that add realism to the film. There are many other scenes which can be cited as examples, for instance, the killing of Sultan where we see how careless and absent-minded people can be. There are also dialogues which show our poor communication skills. For example, the conversation where a man explains to Faizal Khan how a pager works or the conversation between Guddu and the guys on the phone when they are about to kill Sultan. These dialogues are funny but they express a deeper meaning, the communication gap. But that is a story for another day.