Gangs Of Wasseypur: Part 1 (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner24/02/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 160 mins

An audacious and engrossing Indian crime film with powerful performances and a complimentary soundtrack, Part One of Gangs of Wasseypur is at times both terrifying and absorbing, but the overstretched running time can unfortunately be felt.

What’s it all about?
Directed and co-written by Anurag Kashyap, Gangs of Wasseypur is an Indian crime film that looks at the political and power struggles between Wasseypur’s crime families. Part One sees Sahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) impersonating the legendary Sultana Daku (one of India’s most legendary dacoits) and looting British trains, only to then be deported, which sparks a sour revenge battle that passes on to his son, Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee). Some time after, Sahid is working at his enemy Ramadhir Singh’s colliery and is determined to get his father’s honour back; Sardar sets out on a violent and bitter path of revenge and becomes one of Wasseypur’s most feared men in the process.

The Good
Gangs of Wasseypur has been described as India’s version of The Godfather and it’s easy to see why this epic crime saga (the original cut was actually 320 minutes long, until the filmmakers were forced to split it into two parts after Indian cinemas refused to show the full feature at once) has attracted comparisons to Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful classic. With Gangs of Wassepur, Anurag Kashyap proves he’s certainly an ambitious and audacious director and the first instalment is engrossing and at most, superbly acted (in particular, Manoj Bajpayee is terrifying in his menacing performance as the feared gangster).

Some easily forgotten but poignant moments in the film show a handful of characters at times glancing desperately at a TV screen, on which a cheerful Indian soap opera plays, and these scenes are self-effacingly brilliant in communicating the individuals’ terror, fear and desire to escape. In addition, the film’s Indian folk soundtrack gives the film a relative sense of flow and energy and the aggressive script can be extremely powerful at times.

The Bad
Even though they were 175 minutes, 200 minutes and 162 minutes long respectively, The Godfather films had that required narrative pull and emotional engagement to keep the viewer entertained and begging for more. However, the overstretched running time of Gangs of Wasseypur can unfortunately be felt at times and there’s a frustrating sense that many of the scenes could have been cut without any major consequences.

Worth seeing?
With its overstretched running time and violent nature, Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 is certainly not for the fainthearted, but if you’re after something intelligently written and stimulating, then this is definitely worth seeking out.

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Content updated: 25/05/2019 14:19

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