Gangs of Wasseypur Part I
aka Gangs of वासेपुर
Written by Akhilesh Jaiswal, Anurag Kashyap, Sachin K. Ladia, Rutvik Oza, and Zeishan Quadri
Directed by Anurag Kashyap
Gangs of Wasseypur is an epic tale of the rise of the mafia in the Wasseypur region and tells of generations of families in conflict. The massive story originally was a single 319 minute film, but has been split into two parts for release, as few theaters would risk a 5+ hour film. The sweeping tale is consistently entertaining, with memorable characters and a fluid storyline that never seems too complicated despite the massive amount of characters, locations, and history of the Wasseypur region (whose history is just as complicated as the Khan-Singh rivalry!)
Anurag Kashyap is the force behind the Gangs of Wasseypur films, directing as well as helping to produce and write. Kashyap had been interested in doing a gang epic for years, and after hearing about the real life gang warfare and rise of the mafia in Wasseypur, he found a tale to tell. The story loosely follows real events, starting just before India’s independence in 1947 and concluding in near modern day. It is essentially a revenge tale, but not in a traditional sense.
The events spanning time show the economic shifts of India modernizing. In the 1940s, wood is the first item of value, then the real power becomes the coal mines. By the 1970s, it’s gasoline that becomes important, and soon after the Khan family is cornering the iron scrap economy, the conflict over this running through the second film. There is even a takeover of fishing rights just as an aside.
The long tale introduces a huge amount of characters as it passes through the decades, as people enter and exit the lives of the Khan family. Each major character gets a title card, and every character is unique with their own personalities, and just who lives and dies and when and where happens as it would in life, with characters you don’t expect dropping away and others suddenly thrust into larger roles. Everything is done in a manner that just feels like you’re watching true events and not a story punched up to be more Hollywood.