Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 22nd June, 2012
Time : 120 minutes
Director, Co-writer : Anurag Kashyap; Writers : Zeishan Qadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia; Music : Sneha Khanwalkar
Starring : Manoj Bajpai, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Jaideep Ahlawat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Piyush Mishra, Reemma Sen, Richa Chaddha, Zeishan Qadri
“Then there was the whole concept of coal mining, which is a culture unto itself, the most dangerous occupation in the world, and which draws and develops a certain kind of man.”
Martin C. Smith
Manoj Bajpai wants revenge on Tigmanshu Dhulia who had treacherously killed his father.
Sometimes there comes a story which has an epic kind of sweep. Spanning generations, introducing several characters, all caught up in empire building, love, lust and enimity. There isn’t much point to them, the protagonists aren’t clearly defined, the storyline meandering, their lives entwined in the events that befell the nation and the small town that the story inhabits.
Set in the backdrop of Wasseypur, a small part of Dhanbad, capital of India’s coal belt, numerous characters come and go. India gains independence, Emergency is imposed, coal mining is first unionized and later nationalized. However, the story, at its core remains about Tigmanshu’s star rising ever higher and Manoj building his own empire from humble origins, while seeking revenge.
There are times when you wish things would happen quicker. That there were less characters. Or that there was a point to some of them, who are introduced to either only die or shine bright for a few frames before being forgotten.
The environment is beautifully captured, including the lingo, the mannerisms whether it’s the abject despair of the poor mine worker, condemned to live his life in the black shafts. The bestiality of the butcher, as he hacks away at his meat. The cowardice of the cops. The empty bravado of the minister’s goons. Or the naked lust as hungry men eye their next catch, the woman to slake their base desires, even as the wife lies at home, pregnant.
However, there are several things which let the film down. For a film set in the coal belt, we see very little of it. Apart from one memorable scene where, caked in the black coaldust, a few men fight for their lives and another where coals water absorption properties are highlighted, there is too little was about the black mineral and much more made of ancillary businesses. National events of importance are also given short shrift or brushed over, their impact shown quickly, transitions happening smoothly rather than in real life where each change creates havoc in such a tiny eco-system.
Great camera work, flawless performances, several one-liners and very catchy music keep you engaged, though, as our two key protagonists slug it out and religion comes in, with different sects of Muslims engaging in war amongst each other. The story moves forward with a Godfather-esque gait, a kind of glacial majesty, in stops and starts, not always making sense. But then, isn’t that how real life is ?