New Delhi: It is about two hours forty minutes long (and comes with an equally long part two). It doesn’t feature any Bollywood star or a Khan with a Midas touch (instead, it features a host of actors.) Most importantly, it is not a much larger than life pot-boiler that reeks of melodrama (in contrast, it tries to introduce a whiff of real Wasseypur to Indians who are oblivious even of its existence.)
Anurag Kashyap’s revenge drama ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ is also ‘Cannes returned.’ And much like a proud war veteran, it has multiple star ratings show off the acclaim. Commercially too, the film is a profitable venture now (Reportedly made on a budget of about Rs 9.20 crores, the film’s said to have collected Rs 10.5 crores in its opening weekend itself.)
But money doesn’t seem to be the sole driving force for this Gang led by Anurag Kashyap, who incidentally became the proud owner of his first car just a few weeks back. Something that filmmaker confirmed during his pre-release promotional visit to CNN-IBN studio. Kashyap had walked into the studio with the enthusiasm of a college student, bouncing with energy (or perhaps the sheer delight of having produced a movie like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’).
An unassuming Remma Sen had followed, dressed in a pair of denim jeans and a blue printed top with no visible signs of makeup or starry airs unlike most Bollywood actresses. She simply dabbed a touch of lip balm and confirmed that she was ready to roll. (In contrast, we have also had a once upon a time big ticket heroine who took a good 45 minutes in studio to do her make-up and hair even as everyone waited for her.)
They were followed by the de facto star of the film – Manoj Bajpayee. On his part, Bajpayee too seemed eager to play the star - he took a quick U-turn as soon as he entered the studio – we were told, he needed to touch-up his make-up. (Bajpayee has been to CNN-IBN studio previously to promote Prakash Jha’s ‘Rajneeti’ but he wasn’t a stickler for make-up back then.) Later during the interview, Bajpayee concluded, ‘I always maintain that only 20-25% of Manoj Bajpayee has been used till now.’
Meanwhile, it took a good two minutes to locate Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the studio that had suddenly been flushed with new faces. It was very hard to believe that the cold, conniving, chain-smoking Khan of ‘Kahaani’ is actually a short, soft-spoken actor with a wiry frame, two-day stubble and an earnest tone of a man who is eager to work hard for his bread and his bouquets.
“Star banna boring lagta hai. Actor banna bahut achcha hai. Har character ko alag tareeke se nibhana padta hai – the problems, the difference, the challenge – karne me mazza aata hai. Star ek repetition hai…” he said with conviction in an interview to IBN 18 Network’s Editor-In-Chief, Rajdeep Sardesai.
The conviction seemed well-placed. After all, this actor from Budhana, a small town in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, has of late been busy walking red carpets in Cannes and lunching with American critic Roger Ebert (according to the report, Siddiqui crowned Mr Ebert and his wife as ‘the perfect hosts.’) He’s the actor whose two films - ‘Miss Lovely’ and ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ - were screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year; whose last release ‘Kahaani’ was hailed critically and stamped ‘Approved’ at the box office commercially, even though it didn’t pander to the usual trappings of Bollywood productions.
Just like his release before that – ‘Paan Singh Tomar.’ His 2010’s Aamir Khan production, ‘Peepli Live’ was India’s official entry to the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Film Category and his forthcoming film, is Aamir Khan starrer ‘Talaash.’ But what strikes one about his films are not the awards or the acclaim but his performances which in some cases comprise barely 4-5 scenes. And that is the power of Siddiqui – you can’t ignore his role nor can you forget it. Yet it is difficult to spot chameleon-esque Siddiqui in a Rakesh – the enthusiastic reporter from ‘Peepli Live’ or in a Faisal – the pot-smoking, aviator-sporting Amitabh Bachchan fan from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur.’ ‘Chashma lagake wahan dekh sakte ho jahaan koi soch nahi sakta ho,’ quipped Siddiqui.
This actor is not new to this star-driven film industry and he knows what works and what he wants. And this demure actor has roots in humour as well: ‘Maine Manoj bhai ke saath jo kaam kiya tha… 15-16 saal pehle kaam kiya tha.. pedh banta tha main… yeh reech bantey thhe aur khujalte thhe mujhe aake.. bahut tough tha woh role pedh banene wala.’
Following the interview, Bajpayee paused casually for a photograph, while Siddiqui tried to squeeze his way out from the side. But the camaraderie between the two actors was evident as they walked out, with Bajpayee arm around Siddiqui’s shoulder.
('Gangs of Wasseypur' is a Viacom 18 film. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Manoj Bajpayee quotes are from CNN-IBN interviews.)