The story begins without much ado when the late Sardar Khan’s elder son (Vineet Singh, impressive) becomes the epicenter of all the bloodcurdling action. But not for long, as the rival party settles scores in a flash. And then the younger sibling Faisal Khan (Hugely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui finally gets his due in the lead role) takes over in style. Handsome hunks and chocolate boys – make way for our latest unlikely hero whose magnificent screen presence defies his tiny frame and plain vanilla looks. His profound voice and expressive eyes say it all…a Bachchan-like impact without a Bachchan-like persona.
In the thematic context, he’s as ruthless as his father but sans the latter’s vulnerabilities of the fleshy kind. Even his substance abuse does not dilute his own substance… Precisely why a family man, visibly ethical and emotional at that, treads on the vendetta highway against his wishes and yet nonchalantly completes the pending familial mission across three generations with reiterated decisiveness. He’s ably supported by quite a few caricatured characters that either help him, go against him or do both – scion Perpendicular and his friend Tangent (known for their blade attacks in line with the mathematical properties of their names) and step brother Definite, self-named after the defined purpose of his life (script writer Zeishan Quadri is supremely effective).
Interestingly, even the Wasseypur women are not your typical mute witnesses or sob stories. More than motivating their respective saviors, they don’t hesitate to wake up the somnolent with punitive rebuke and cuss words. (Three cheers for the superb portrayals of Huma Qureshi, Reema Sen and Richa Chadda)
To match Faisal’s stylish aggression is Ramadhir’s quiet, reconciled authority (Tigmanshu sir, why don’t you act more often? You are easily one of the best actors we have today) who attributes his glorious survival to the aversion to Hindi films. (“Jab tak Hindustan mein sanima banta rahega, public c****ya banti rahegi") Ironically, he perishes just like the archetypal Hindi film villain in the end.
The director astutely brings out the influence of Bollywood’s masala films throughout the humorous narrative, both as a popular timeline and a vivid motif, complete with its popular Hindi numbers for every occasion – from merriment to mourning. That the brilliant narrative, overflowing with as many quips as bullets, should have been blatantly dragged to fruition is beyond comprehension. Certain scenes simple refuse to move ahead (A Q-A session on the meaning of the word “definite” or a dhoti-tying sermon that goes on and on are two most telling examples) and you keep wondering how long it would take to see the predictable happen. When it does happen, the soulful voice of the narrator Piyush Mishra leaves you mesmerized (“ek Bagal mein Chand hoga, ek bagal mein Rotiyan”). So does Sneha Khanvilkar’s inventive music throughout the film.
But as you leave the cinema hall, you are already reeling in the effect of two supremely talented artistes of contemporary cinema – Nawazuddin Siddiqui and filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia. Hats off to the dynamic duo!