This one’s a gang bang. Sorry, make that a gang bang-bang; because that’s how this story explodes – with bullets, blasts and bust-ups. Throw in gallons of blood, body-counts and ‘boom-boom’, true Bihari ishtyle. It doesn’t need coal to fuel this revenge drama. It fires on Anurag Kashyap’s penchant for the dark, dubious, deadly and daring. Starting in 1941, in the dusk of colonial India, in Wasseypur (Dhanbad), the land of coal and scrap trade, simmers an age-old hatred between Muslims and Muslims (Qureshis V/S Pathans). And the bloodbaths, power struggles, family feuds and gang wars rage over three generations.
In this complex drama, with mobs of men (where you almost forgetkitne aadmi the) and myriad shades (mostly dark), the word to remember is Revenge. And revenge is best served hot, ‘koyla‘ hot! Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat), a good-willed-goonda, impersonates the dreaded Sultana daku (the real Gabbar of colonial India) and loots British trains. Growing gang rivalry compels him to flee his territory, and resettle as a mazdoor in Ramadhir Singh’s (Tigmanshu Dhulia) coal mines, where he’s betrayed and murdered. But revenge grows in the genes; son Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai), swears (on his bald pate), that he won’t grow his mane or rest until he has Ramadhir’s blood on his hands. He’s a hot-gun really, in bloody war and in bed. While he’s married to the feisty and hot-tempered Nagma (Richa Chaddha), who bears him three sons (including Nawazuddin as Faizal), he sleeps around, philanders and marries the doosri aurat, Durga (Reemma Sen); a Bong firebrand, no less. History repeats, in (Francis Ford Copolla’s)’Godfather’-style, as the sons-of-Sardar add their meaty parts to this bloody enterprise, of potent men with powerful ‘pistols’.
Manoj Bajpai, in this fully loaded role, is spectacular. He gustily brings to life Sardar Khan, peaking his performance with devilry, crudity and cuss words, while ably toning it with comic moments and a human touch. Truly, a raw diamond in this coal mine.
In his acting debut, Tigmanshu Dhulia, with a striking command over his role, is ‘bang’ on. The real find in this mine-of-a-cast, boy gang film, is Richa Chaddha. She appears like a mini-handmade bomb, but is quite explosive. Reemma Sen, with few dialogues shows her curves and contempt with ease. Piyush Mishra, as the narrator of this long-winding saga (and Sardar Khan’s chachha), magnanimously stays in the background, but silently offloads shocking shades of his character.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as a pothead son with a devious mind, even in a brief role leaves a solid impact. Director Anurag Kashyap, in his trademark style of story- telling – realistic, with strong characters, over-the-top sequences, and unadulterated local flavour (crude maa-behen gaalis galore), gruesome bloody violence and raw humour – interestingly spins this twisted tale. This first of a two-part film, is ambitious indeed; showing promise of brilliance in parts, but not bullet-proof to flaws. With a runtime this long, meandering side tracks and random sub-plots, countless characters, documentary-style narrative backed with black and white montages from actual history, it loses blood in the second half because of the Director’s over-(self)indulgence. The dialogues are ‘killer’, adding more quirkiness to this chaos. The electric background score (GV Prakash) keeps the tempo in this drama, and the music (Sneha Khanwalkar) though folkish, is hip and cool. But beware; GOW is not for the weak-hearted. So, hold on to your guns, gamchas and ‘womaniyas’.
Sweeping story of gangs fighting over the coal capital of the country, where rivalry and revenge cut deep, and ‘coal’-blooded crimes are second nature. Shahid Khan is betrayed, and his sons and grandsons swear to avenge his dishonour and death.