What A Ride To Your Seamier Side!
Anurag Kashyap delivers a gritty, grimy, gut-wrenching story of opposites in order to tell you that they’re not really so. Takes a while to come to the point, but you understand why it is so difficult to edit out stuff that is so deliciously dark. The opposites played by Vicky Kaushal and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are so equally ugly, you know the director has made his point when you cannot swallow popcorn.
It’s the seamy side of the city and no one but Anurag Kashyap knows the alleyways better. But this time he manages to get inside the convoluted corridors inside your head and you stare at the creepy Indian slasher come alive on the screen, cornered and plastered to the theater seat.
Remember Al Pacino in Cruising?
The moment you are introduced to Vicky Kaushal the cop dancing to Qatl-e-aam, you know this movie is going to be khaas! I tried and tried to keep the comparisons to Cruising and the image of Al Pacino dancing in a gay nightclub out of my head but couldn’t. The two subversive films kept overlapping, along with slasher films one has loved watching for the violence we feel and suppress.
What? Did I say there is violence buried deep inside us checked only by a thin veneer of politically correctness of our daily existence? Anurag Kashyap’s story-telling has tackled this before in Ugly and you had everyone running for cover with gems like: ‘How can everyone in the movie be so bad? How can every character lack any redeeming feature?’ and so on and so forth...
The violence here is again, like in Cruising. It is graphic but necessary. I did think the extended sequence with the sister was too long, but then it is meant to terrorise people in the audience who are happy to watch good cop -bad criminal movies where they rob banks and take ‘Sona door kaheen Switzerland mein in helicopters and take their Mona darling with them’. Somehow the image of villains who steal gold bricks (‘Sona kahan hai’) and threaten to blow up cities (‘Yeh Missile dekh rahe ho?’) is easier to accept than a chap who can eat Chicken Bhuna over people he has killed.
Cruising showed us the seamier side of gay life and you had to look away from the sexual violence in the film. You do that when you watch the cop in this film. His misogyny is underlined and bold and unrepentant and the submissive yet fiery girlfriend adds to that violence by verbal assault when she stands up to him. You are looking into someone’s dark bedroom and you don’t like what you see. It does not mean it doesn’t exist. These are things which make you want to fling your popcorn at the screen. But you’re rooted to the seat and realise you haven’t bought any popcorn because you too have a dad (or a mom) that treats you the way his dad treats him, and you too have cowered down in front of the habits you are addicted to. Maybe it’s something as mild as drinking tea, but you know you are enslaved by the habit when you experience rage when someone puts a cup of over boiled, over sweet milky tea in front of you instead of the sophisticated, light Darjeeling you are used to.
I do hate how Anurag Kashyap still pays homage to Tarantino when he separates the story into ‘chapters’, but then what are idols without clay feet?
Now moviegoers who don’t cringe at everything will find the story rather meandering, but it satisfies the need to see both sides of the coin. It’s not out of the goodness of your heart that you say, ‘Bhaiyya, rehne do (keep the change)!’ but because you are saving yourself from touching the coins that materialised from his armpit pocket along with bidi bits and lint of unknown origin.
Just as Al Pacino discovers a seamier side to himself and his police department (watch for the floating balls test the cops subject a suspect and you will realise the similarity in this film as well. The unethical locking up, the ‘don’t give anything to eat, beat him up’ procedures they employ have several parallels to what you saw in Cruising. You know that Vicky Kaushal the cop is not undercover here, but his persona is. You know you want to know why Raman the killer - played brilliantly by Nawazuddin - is the way he is. You want to understand what joy he feels when he has made a kill because you see the triumph in his face after. You steal a glance at the people sitting next to you (who may not have seen slasher films) to see if they are affected by the sound of the iron jack being dragged on the road…
I just wished they had not used him humming the song he hums because you find that in most slasher films and indeed the killer in Cruising hums as well. And the weird poster of the film which tells you the story in hindsight is also from Cruising: ‘there’s a lot about me you don’t know’, with a switch in this film which says: ‘I know more about you than you think’...
Go watch this film because you learn to confront devil within you, and no one makes you want to side with the devil better than Anurag Kashyap.
p.s. Here is the trailer to Cruising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpJ5K8Vt5V8