Category Archives: The Verdict

The Verdict on Gangs of वासेपुर

Directed by-   Anurag Kashyap

Starring-         Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Richa Chaddha, Piyush Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vipin Sharma, Reemma Sen

There is difference between a great movie and great cinema in general. Anurag Kashyap’s gang war epic “Gangs of वासेपुर” earnestly tries to bridge that gap but falls just short on several counts. On the whole, Wasseypur is a brilliantly made movie, with stellar performances, great pace of story and some outstanding editing. It literally takes you on a ride (a gory and profane one albeit) to the heartland of the coal mafia- the morally loose, violently prolific and cinematically grey hamlet known as Wasseypur. Here is the Hatter’s verdict on one of the most highly awaited movies of this year.

Plot and Narrative – 7/10

Basically Wasseypur is an epic; and like all epics, it starts in media res (read: just when the shit hits the fan). It has all the elements of a classical Indian epic- a plot traversing decades, a plethora of characters, sex and violence and a sutradhar (the rustic voice of Piyush Mishra doing justice the film’s feel). My biggest complaint with the plot is that it is a revenge saga minus the revenge. Here is the protagonist (Bajpai at his best) who vows to avenge his father, a la Michael Corleone, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, but the problem with our hero is that he never gets around to extracting that revenge. Maybe, I’m being too harsh and part 1 (yes, there is a sequel expected in September) is just a prequel to all the bloody revenge that takes place in part 2. But despite its fast paced narrative, complex yet clear plot and layers of detail and rustic appeal, the plot of Wasseypur still left me a little underwhelmed.

Acting- 10/10

The acting is what separates Wasseypur from any other gangster movie. If ‘The Godfather’ has taught us something, it is that a great gangster movie is incomplete without great acting. All the characters are well sketched out and defined well, which makes it easier for the actors to portray them. The star of the show is the untiring Manoj Bajpai. Personally, I have been a fan of this wonderfully eccentric man ever since Satya and Shool exploded on to the screen a decade and a half ago. With this movie, though, Bajpai has given us Bollywood’s sex-crazed, blood thirsty equivalent of Don Corleone (apologies to RGV and the Big B). Richa Chaddha has proved that she is much more than Dolly of Oye Lucky…and as Nagma, she is the perfect foil for Bajpai’s Sardaar Khan. Young Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the find of the movie for me. As Faisal Khan, he brings in a youthful rustic enigma to his role, and hopefully, we will get to see a lot more of him in the future (starting with Wasseypur 2).

Piyush Mishra has proved that he is much more than just a poet and composer. We all remember his eccentric act from Gulaal but in Wasseyour, you get to see a much more sedate and sublime Mishra, who can surely act. The surprise package of the movie, for me, was Tigmanshu Dhulia as the politician Ramadhir Singh, the chief antagonist of the movie. I have always believed that directors can act whenever they wish to. And as Singh, the Haasil director proves that they can do a mighty fine job at it too. He looks menacing, calculative and every bit the authority figure that Singh is meant to be. The ensemble cast comprises of unknown but strong actors like Jaideep Ahlawat, Reemma Sen, Vipin Sharma, etc. But even in such a huge star cast, no one goes unnoticed here, which speaks volumes of their impactful performances. Even Yashpal Sharma (of Gangaajal fame) manages to make a lasting impression in a 2-minute cameo as a shrill-voiced wedding singer.

Action- 7/10

Kashyap’s films are known for their grittiness and truthful and unabashed use of blood and violence. Right from Black Friday, which drew heavily from The Battle of Algiers to No Smoking, which was Kafka-esque in its treatment, Kashyap’s violence is itself an homage to a particular style of filmmaking. In Wasseypur, he follows the Tarantino school of movie-making by using blood, gore and dark humour to propagate heavy violence in a typically Tarantino grey setting. There are no flying cars or chase sequences but loads of gunshots. There are no mushroom clouds or clashing blades but an abundance of blood. In its style of rustic action, Wasseypur resembles Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns to some extent. But somewhere along the line, all the blood spilling starts to get a little repetitive and in parts, even overpowers the story line. My advice- do not take your girlfriend/wife to this one, unless you are looking forward to a lifetime of “why did you ever take me to that movie!”

Music and Background Score- 8/10

The musical soundtrack of this movie is less Bollywood than you might expect. If you believe that action movies are ruined by the presence of songs, then watch Wasseypur and allow this movie to whack that misconception out of your mistaken soul. At no point do the actors break out into song and dance involuntarily and shamelessly. The soundtrack has been cleverly used (those who know of Kashyap’s use of music in Gulaal would already know that). The tracks have been written by Piyush Mishra and Varun Grover, and wonderfully composed by Sneha Khanwakar. ‘Hunter’ has become the most popular track from the album but my personal favourites are “Keh ke lunga”, “Womaniya” and “Jiya Tu”. It is refreshing to see the music taking the movie forward rather than causing a break in its flow. The background score by GV Prakash Kumar is commendable and gels well with the mood of the movie. My personal favourite piece of music in the movie is the hilariously clever use of “Salaam-e-Ishq” from Muqaddar ka Sikandar.

Technical Elements and Treatment – 9/10

The story of Wasseypur begins in colonial India and continues up to the mid-1980s. Part 2 will take this story forward two more decades. Needless to say, the filmmakers had to do a lot of research about Wasseypur, Dhanbad, the coal mafia and the time. Well, if nothing, they got the lingo right. The film is replete with the choicest Hindi expletives and profanities and all ill-mannered viewers from the Hindi heartland will certainly find a piece of home there (I did). The sheer number of characters gives a lot of room for subplots but thankfully, Kashyap has steered clear of any non-linear development in the story. The best part of the movie, though, is the finesse with which the violence has been handles. I don’t know if the phrase ‘tasteful and artistic depiction of violence’ makes any sense but since it sounds classy, I’ll use it here. The bloodshed never reaches a gut-wrenching, puke-inducing level. It is more 300 than Hostel in that regard. The editing (done by by Shweta Venkat Mathew) is the backbone of the movie, complemented by some stunning cinematography (by Rajeev Ravi) that captures the gritty feel of Wasseypur and the earthy appeal of Dhanbad in equal measures.

THE VERDICT- 8.2/10

As far as gangster movies go, Wasseypur is more Omkara than Company, more Scarface than the Godfather. There is an earthy appeal to all its hatred, deceit, violence and love, It takes you to the heartland of the coal mafia and portrays the animosity between the Pathans and the Qureshis in a brutal yet magnificent fashion. The Hatter says this movie is for you if you love any of these- a) good cinema b) Manoj Bajpai and/or Anurag Kashyap c) gangster movies d) an abundance of Hindi profanities e) some blood with your popcorn.

The Verdict on Ra.One

Directed by-   Anubhav Sinha

Starring-         Shahrukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapoor, Shahana Goswami, Armaan Verma, Tom Wu

Well, Shah Rukh Khan’s magnum opus has hit the screens worldwide, and it has done so with a considerable force. The marketing juggernaut called Ra.One actually has a movie in the end, and is not just a series of elaborate publicity modules and public appearances as many thought. Well, this Rs. 175 crore magnum opus has opened to record bookings in the festive season. But, is it any good? Well, Mad Crazy Hatter will tell you that, and much more. Here is the Hatter’s verdict on Shah Rukh Khan’s dream project.

Special Effects- 10/10

The movie began with a breath-taking opening sequence laden with Vfx and I almost gasped. For the next 120 minutes, my jaw just kept falling and falling. The special effects and technology in Ra.One is outstanding to say the least. It carries forward a legacy created by Rajni’s Enthiran (Robot) and at times, even surpasses Shankar’s masterpiece. Ra.One has already created a world record by having the most number of VFx aided sequences in any movie- even more than James Cameron’s Avatar. And, I swear by Heath Ledger’s ghost, the special effects alone are enough to carry this movie as potentially the biggest hit of this year. If Enthiran was the pioneer of this genre, then Ra.One could be the watershed for such movies in India. Indian movies are not traditionally known for their technological prowess but it is heartening to see that the times are changing. Quite honestly, in terms of sheer special effects, Ra.One can hold its own in front of any major Hollywood blockbuster.

Action- 8/10

This is a superhero movie, a futuristic superhero movie in fact. And it’s needless to say that its action sequences are its USP. The action in Ra.One is fast-paced, keeping in tune with the movie’s overall theme. It has been interspersed with the Vfx almost perfectly. Now, Ra.One’s action is not the Salman brand of blunt force trauma inducing, punch-laden, jaw shattering style we have seen in Dabangg and Bodyguard, or the slick combat-based action seen in Hollywood superhero flicks like Spiderman or The Dark Knight. In fact, it is larger than life, and quite blatantly too. SRK seems to have taken a leaf out of Rajnikanth’s voluminous book on style and action and realized that the Indian audience loves action sequences where everything and everyone flies. The sequences are complex and fast-paced, involving lots of heavy duty martial arts, acrobatic manoeuvres and what seems like the Great Indian Rope trick (one where the actors are suspended in mid-air while the camera decides to change its own angle.) The chase sequences are shot well and executed even better. At times, Ra.One is a testosterone-fuelled roller coaster and those times are not few either.

Plot and Treatment- 5/10

The plot of Ra.One could have been its most outstanding feature. It had a wonderful premise, supported by some quality Vfx sequences. But SRK’s habit of pleasing all maybe took a little something away from the ‘hardcoreness’ of the movie. If it had been treated properly, Ra. One could have been the pioneer of superhero movies Bollywood has been waiting for. (I still do not consider Krrish as a genuine superhero movie. It was a farce to all ardent supporters of the superhero genre.) Ra. One still does a decent job, but it’s like a sabretooth with its incisors chopped off, a falcon with its wings clipped, a footballer with his kneecap taken out, a pornstar with… (I think you get the picture.) The plot is laden with all the essentials of an SRK flick- song and dance, melodrama, emotional bonding, a prominent child artist and his unique brand of humour that some like, some don’t and others laugh at sheepishly. The storyline misses out on a few pivotal points and often, doesn’t bother explaining the science of things- which to me is a major shortcoming in any science fiction movie. The plot is still good, but it could have been so much better.

Acting- 4/10

If you are going to the theatre to watch this movie and anticipating power-packed acting performance worthy of the National Awards; please step back so I can slap you out of your reverie. The actors (read people in front of the camera barely emoting, or Kareena’s case emoting too much) are there in the movie just because robots can’t act as of yet. The day Skynet manages to bring out acting robots, the days of the Kareena Kapoors of this world will be over. SRK and Salman have reached an understandingI believe, where have both have decided not to act but simply stand in front of the camera, deliver the lines and exit the scene effortlessly. Well in all fairness, if their movies can make all that money without them having to actually act, then Aamir should be rethinking his act too. Why work hard when you can work smart. But Shah Rukh can actually be a good performer, as he shows in some fleeting scenes in the first half. So, I will forgive him for that Mark Zuckerberg look and Mallu accent.

Kareena’s job is to look hot and overact as much as possible, and she has done both the tasks to perfection. Arjun Rampal makes a fleeting appearance as the lead villain and we would have liked to see more of him. He looks truly badass. Shahana Goswami is the one lifesaver in this movie in terms of acting. It comes naturally to her by the looks of it. Armaan Verma is a likable kid, but he is just that. He is no Dakota Fanning or Darsheel Safary for that matter. Dalip Tahil is quite over the top and Chinese actor Tom Wu is way under it. Superstar Rajnikanth should not have degraded himself by doing that lipstick smeared cameo somewhere in between, but Sanjay Dutt on the other hand, was a treat to watch. Ra.One is no Dark Knight. It does not have intense performances. Its USP is the action and not the actors.

The Elements- 6/10

The cinematography of the film is consistent with its theme. But quite honestly, the cinematographers Nicola Pecorini and V. Manikandan did not have much to do with the amount of special effects in this movie. But still, the credit has to go to them for making the action so lifelike and fast-paced. This is the first major Indian movie to have a wide 3D release, and one can see why. The theme and treatment of the movie suits a 3D environment perfectly. The Vfx and the action has been specifically designed keeping in mind the 3D technology and hence, they blend in very well. I myself find 3D a bit cumbersome and prefer a movie where I do not have to look like a hippy from the 60s with those glasses. But if you are a 3D buff, then Ra.One would definitely appeal to you in 3D. The background score is able to capture the tone of action to perfection, although it does lag behind in parts and places. The soundtrack is certainly not one of Vishal-Shekhar’s better works and is passable at best. The much-hyped ‘Chammak Chhallo’ is foot-tapping and nothing more, although Kareena Kapoor has ensured that the video stays in our mind for some time. Other tracks like ‘Dildaara’ and ‘O Rehnuma’ are pleasant, but nothing special. The surprise package for me was ‘Raftaarein’ sung by Vishal Dadlani in an RD Burmanesque voice.

 

THE VERDICT- 6.6/10

Ra.One has special effects never seen before in an Indian movie. For that alone, it is a must watch. In fact, the action and Vfx are so strong that one can choose to simply ignore any other shortcomings and plot loopholes that the movie has. So the Hatter says that if you are in either of the four following categories, then go watch Ra.One- a) SRK fans b) special effect and Vfx crazies c) sci-fi freaks d) just someone who wants his money’s worth this festive season.