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10 years of Gangs Of Wasseypur: A masterpiece studded with gems

There is a lot that Anurag Kashyap's film has given the industry and audiences. Here’s picking out some jewels from the gangster drama that shine even more now.

Ankita Kanabar

Anurag Kashyap's two-part magnum opus Gangs Of Wasseypur completed a decade today as the first film hit the screens on 22 June 2012. The second part was released on 8 August 2012. And audiences lapped up both.

While the budget of the entire film was about Rs30 crore, it garnered more than Rs50 crore nett at the box office. In the film’s making video, writer-director Kashyap said, “There was no money to start special effects with, or sound effects. We didn’t have much money, but everyone was just there on the film and worked day and night. We were running out of money. For months there was no salary that we could pay, but the film was made on love and passion. The film sucked a lot out of us. The actors and the whole team, nobody has ever complained.”

Gangs Of Wasseypur was critically acclaimed for its narrative, for being one of the more entertaining and bold gangster dramas India has seen, and won several awards, including the National award. The five-hour film was screened at the Cannes Festival in one flow. Kashyap also confessed that this remains the toughest film he has made, “much tougher than Black Friday even; but also the most fun”.

Gangs Of Wasseypur, written by Akhilesh Jaiswal, Kashyap, Sachin K Ladia and Zeishan Quadri, is not only a landmark in Hindi cinema, but also gave the industry and audiences a lot to cherish. From some quirky characters to a brilliant narrative laced with top-notch performances, a lot was packed into the film, which is what makes it so awesome a decade later.

Gangster drama with humour

Now this was a genre that had not really been explored in Hindi before. We had gangster movies brimming with swag, but Gangs Of Wasseypur gave us characters that were deadly, petrifying, yet so quirky that we were baffled. Be it Sardar Khan (played by Manoj Bajpayee) or Faizal Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) or Mohsina (Huma Qureshi), every character had an arc and quirks that made you chuckle. There was humour and entertainment amidst the dark world which made the film so special.

Smashing stereotypes

The film broke a lot of stereotypes. For instance, we had never really seen a short and scrawny gangster like Faizal Khan in the past. But he had all the swag. Also, who would have thought he would pair up with someone like Huma Qureshi.

It was also not often that one saw a young actress playing a mother on-screen. Richa Chadha playing Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s mother was quite new. Here's some trivia: Chadha was to play the character of Durga in the film, but no actress was ready to play a mother and Kashyap ended up casting her in the role of Nagma because she was good.

The film was rustic, raw and unapologetic about it and that’s what worked in its favour. Perhaps the film and its characters brought panache to this rawness. It did not bank on stars. If anything, it made many stars. And that brings us to the next point.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui

A diamond Gangs Of Wasseypur gave the industry is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Anurag Kashyap admitted he had first seen Siddiqui as a junior artist in Sarfarosh (1999) and remembered him ever since. He cast him in his first directorial project Black Friday (2007). But it was Gangs Of Wasseypur that introduced viewers to the artiste in all his glory, making everyone wonder why he wasn’t discovered earlier.

Deep pool of talent

Nawazuddin Siddiqui wasn't the only talent unearthed by Gangs Of Wasseypur. The film also introduced the industry to some wonderful artistes such Pankaj Tripathi, who had been seen in projects like Bunty Aur Babli (2005) and Agneepath (2012) without actually sticking in the viewer's mind.

The film also marked the debut of Huma Qureshi, a fine actress with great screen presence.

Richa Chadha, like Tripathi, had been seen earlier on the big screen, in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), but her career only took off after Gangs Of Wasseypur.

The film also featured Rajkummar Rao and Jaideep Ahlawat, two top-notch artistes in Hindi cinema today. Indeed, Gangs... was packed with talent and many of its cast are today considered among the finest artistes in the industry.

And what can one say about Manoj Bajpayee, who headlined the project? Every single artiste in the film brought their A-game to the table.

Revolutionary music by a woman

Gangs Of Wasseypur had as many as 14 songs, most of them composed by Sneha Khanwalkar. Three songs were composed by Piyush Mishra. It wasn’t often that we saw a female music composer helming the album of a Hindi film. But that wasn't its only positive.

The film’s music was a breakthrough indeed in terms of how unique each song sounded. Right from ‘Hunter’ to ‘O Womaniya’, every song became popular. The audience was left amazed and in a state of shock that such tracks could be made.

The music added to the film’s vibe and Khanwalkar won a Filmfare for Best Music Composer. She later went on to do some amazing work with films like Khoobsurat (2014).

Whistle-worthy dialogues

Dialogues from the film like ‘Kehke lenge’ and ‘Baap ka, dada ka, bhai ka, sabka badla lega tera Faizal’ are remembered and loved even today and also played a big part in the film's popularity. Not only were they eminently meme-worthy at a time when meme-making was yet to take off, but they also seeped into the popular culture and lingo.

The crew

Looking back, most of those who worked on the film, whether in front of the camera or behind it, have gone on to so well in their careers. Neeraj Ghaywan was an assistant director on the film. He went on to make the acclaimed film Masaan (2015). Vicky Kaushal, one of the top actors in Hindi cinema today, was also an assistant director on Gangs Of Wasseypur. Hansal Mehta’s son Jai was another AD on the film. He co-directed the acclaimed web-series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story (2020) with his father.

Clearly, it was no fluke that Gangs Of Wasseypur became the only Indian film to be featured in The Guardian newspaper's list of 100 best films of the 21st century. It was not just a memorable film but a veritable goldmine of talent for the film industry. With so much variety and drama packed into one film, it was not surprising that it stretched to five hours and was released in two parts.