Of godfathers and gang wars
This year will see several Bollywood films narrating the untold stories of real life mafia
When Bhiku Mhatre called himself the King of Mumbai, it sent shivers down the spines of many wannabe gangsters, on and perhaps even off screen. That was 14 years back.
Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath
Though Ram Gopal Varma himself is skeptical about being able to bring Satya back to life, the mysterious tales of the mafia continue to fascinate filmmakers.
Attracting applause to a stylishly shot gang war sequence, cut to a remixed retro number, is probably on the wish list of every other filmmaker these days.
Gangs on the silver screen
No wonder why bombs and bloodshed or even dons and their molls, promise to rule the big screen in 2012.
So while we see a younger, more vulnerable, Vijay Deenanath Chauhan back to take his big revenge against the local mobster in Agneepath, we also see Akshay Kumar play Dawood Ibrahim's onscreen avatar in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai 2.
While Zilla Ghaziabad recreates the rivalry between two real-life gangs in Ghaziabad, Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur talks about the unsolved mysteries of the coal mafia in Jharkhand.
Sanjay Dutt on the sets of Zilla Ghaziabad
Says Milan Lutharia, "Gangsters have always lent themselves to larger than life cinema. I believe characters who are on the other side of law are much more interesting to the audience and the underworld provides perfect fodder for such stories." However, though the genre remains the same, the plot is also heavily subjective to what the filmmaker wants to show.
Like the OUATIM sequel, which will primarily be about a love triangle involving two men in positions of power in the underworld.
Or even Sanjay Gupta's Shootout at Wadala that promises to be an elaborate recounting of the famous Indian dacoit Manya Surve's life. Adds Gupta, "During his time Manya was the only gangster who was a graduate. There are over 820 cases registered against him. So we are getting down to the smallest of small details."
From Deewar to Parinda to Satya, there are too many Indian masterpieces emerging filmmakers go back to, as reference points for the genre. However, many feel that it is difficult to replicate the benchmark these films did.
Says director Karan Malhotra, "I consider Ramu the god of gangster cinema. No one can emulate what he did. But yes, I have a vision, which I have tried to achieve through Agneepath.
Akshay Kumar's look in Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai 2
The gang-wars in the film do not form the crux of the story, but act as a catalyst." So while they capture the dark deeds of these antiheroes, their glamorous lifestyles play a major part within the film too.
Adds Milan, "In OUATIM, after a long time there was so much colour and extravagance in a film about gangsters. So I think filmmakers are trying to reinvent the genre in their own way."
An offer we cannot refuse
Many of them like director Anand Kumar are also unravelling stories about smaller gangs, that may today just find a mention in the dusty files of local police stations. Kumar's next titled Meerut Junction will be set against the backdrop of the rail mafia.
He adds, " We have extensively researched on the rail mafia and discovered that there are many stories which have never been told. So I decided to make this film." Dibakar Banerjee's next too sketches out the crime scene back when Kolkata was still called Calcutta.