Dance numbers and melodrama have come to typify the image of Indian cinema. With mainstream Bollywood producing a multitude of films every year, Indian art house is being pushed further and further away from the public eye.
Gangs of Wasseypur – Part One
is one such film. Spanning 50 years in only 158 minutes, the film chronicles the gangs in and around Dhanbad and Wasseypur, and their control of the region’s coal mining after India’s independence in 1947. Following the stories of three families throughout five decades, we are given an intimate look at the formation of the Indian mafia, inspired by real events and real people.
Originally shot as a 318-minute epic by director Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday) and screened at the 2012 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Wasseypur
was eventually cut into two parts for Indian theatres.
Despite being heavily influenced by the mafia films of Coppola and Scorsese, as well as the westerns of Sergio Leone, Kashyap manages a distinctly Indian feel thanks in part to its Indian folk-inspired soundtrack and careful use of authentic dialogue. The film succeeds as a stylized chronicle of the violent power struggles of the late 20th century in India.