‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ And The Raw Portrayal Of Violence

A car stops at a junction and is instantly shot by a bunch of men surrounding it from all sides. The men empty their rifles on the man sitting inside. Then the man gets out, and is shot even more as he screams and falls to his death. This is a scene from “The Godfather,” from which the climax of Gangs of Wasseypur takes its inspiration. What we see in “Gangs of Wasseypur” is something similar but made all the more dramatic. After the shootout, Sardar Khan, all filled up with bullets and blood coming from all places, gets out of the car with a gun in his hand as he finds the people who killed him. It is all in slow motion as a song starts playing in the background in his glory. So, while in the film, he dies a dog’s death, literally butchered, but what we see changes the picture completely. The song and the slowed visuals remind us of the life that the man lived. He dies gloriously.

The violence in Gangs of Wasseypur is designed in a way to draw attention to itself. People don’t die instantly after getting shot. The violence works as a pay-off; the time of death is elongated for dramatic effect. Anurag Kashyap is very self-conscious of the violence and how it is seen on screen. But it is not as over the top as with some films by Tarantino, and it is also not as a matter of fact as the killings in the “City of God.” Kashyap finds a midway in giving Indian sensibilities to the violence, basing it on melodrama, with the songs evoking mayhem through their words and pulsating beats. The result is a bloody saga that doesn’t horrify you but still ends up spreading some terror along the way.

The violence in the film is linked to the psyche of the characters and also as a release of all the pent-up anger that has been boiling up for generations to take revenge. This is seen in the glorified death of Ramadhir Singh in the end, who is shot by Faisal Khan even after he visibly dies. Faisal empties the magazines of all the guns that he has onto the flesh of Ramadhir. Blood spills from his body and keeps spilling with each bullet that hits him. There is satisfaction on the face of Faisal; he has killed the man who killed both his father and grandfather. A normal death wouldn’t have done justice to all the boiled-up anger and also to the extravagant appeal of the film. The climax takes it all to the zenith. Again, the act of violence ends up getting much bigger than what it must have been in the script. The violence transcends the story, giving it the emotional pay-off it needed. “Gangs of Wasseypur” is a film where the way in which a character dies tells us about the life that he lived. Sardar Khan dies in style. Faisal is shot while sitting in a car shortly after the heinous massacre of Ramadhir. Again, he doesn’t die off instantly. The time before death is given to us. It is such a shocking moment after such a triumphant finale. But then, he parts, after looking around and touching his bloodied lips, as if knowing this would happen.

The use of excessive violence, and expletives has been widely limited and restricted in Indian films. There are various cultural and social reasons for that, due to which certain elements have been kept aside from the world of films. Gangs of Wasseypur changed that. Not only was there an open portrayal of intimacy and blood, but the kind of language used by the characters throughout the film took everyone by surprise. It was the language of the streets. That’s how the characters inhabiting the space in the film would speak. It was a daring move. No longer were they stopping at the handful of allowed words but going ahead and saying what a gangster would. The viewers were fascinated by seeing on the big screen what they had been hearing and seeing on the streets for years. It was a respite from all the stories that came before, which were told in a hushed way so as to not displease the censors. Anurag Kashyap deserves respect for breaking new ground and creating a riveting saga of bloodshed with experiments in all forms throughout the film.

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Shreyas Pande
Shreyas Pande
Shreyas is a screenwriter who likes contemplating on cinema. That is when he is not writing a poem or quoting some Urdu couplet or posting excessively on his Instagram.

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