I spent the whole of last week on a much needed vacation. I visited a bunch of world heritage sites and spent a day relaxing at a hill station. Throughout all of this I had one side quest, so to speak. I had to finish watching the whole 5 hours of Gangs of Wasseypur. It took me till the 7th day to do it but I did it. I watched the whole bloody affair in one long hit. I had watched Part 1 a few years ago but was never able to watch Part 2. Finally, the time had come for me to tick that off my movie list. One scene from Part 1 always stood out for me. It was the single greatest scene from both the movies. It was the hero’s exit that any main character from a film deserves. It was glorious.
Manoj Bajpayee gives a virtuoso performance throughout Part 1 of Gangs of Wasseypur as Sardar Khan. A man whose only goal in life is to exact revenge for the death of his father at the hands of one Ramadhir Singh, who is also expertly played by Tigmanshu Dhulia. While having a very tender moment with his wife, Sardar Khan tells her his primary goal in life. He explains to her that he has a hard time watching Ramadhir Singh go from strength to strength and that he wants to punish Ramadhir Singh. Sardar Khan will not kill him will a gun because he feels the quick death a bullet will cause is not enough to balance out the amount of suffering Ramadhir Singh has caused him.
Ramadhir Singh would have been the primary culprit in the killing of Sardar Khan’s father, the reason Sardar’s mother died while giving birth to him and would have also been the reason for Sardar abandoning his childhood home and growing up in poverty. Once Sardar Khan realizes that Ramadhir is to blame for his troubles, he shaves his head bald and vows to not grow his hair out until he has his revenge.
The film then trails the life and times of both Ramadhir Singh and Sardar Khan. Both men cross paths multiple times on the ascent to being the two most influential gangsters in Dhanbad and in turn, Wasseypur. Both men ascend to power with their hands deep in illegal business ventures, being the kingpins of the Bihar mafia scene, executing each other’s men etc. Sardar is no good man himself. Even with his noble intention of avenging the death of his parents, he takes to the mafia lifestyle hook, line and sinker. He spends his time building a reputation as a ruthless man who cannot be messed with. Even though he loves his wife, he can’t bear the thought of not sex with a woman for 9 months every time he impregnates her. He does all the impregnation by siring 4 children with her.
To fulfill his needs, he gets involved with another woman. His wife agrees to it with the condition that his affairs must stay out of their doors. Sardar’s mistress is blessed with a child of her own. She is beside herself and tells Sardar that the last thing she wants from her life is to be a child bearing machine like his wife has become. Sardar obliges. She is however kept away from all of Sardar’s matters which leads to a huge amount of friction which ends up with his mistress shutting him out of her life. Sardar does provide her with a sort of alimony payment every month helping keep her head above water. His mistress however has revenge on her mind as well.
A few decades pass and Sardar and Ramadhir keep butting heads but keep growing as well. Both are old men now but neither has managed to eliminate the other. It seems that through all the violence and pain, the titular Gangs of Wasseypur might finally be taking their feet off the pedals. All is not what is seems though, as the undercurrent stays strong. A man befriends Sardar Khan’s son and alerts Ramadhir Singh to Sardar Khan’s whereabouts. Sardar Khan is out visiting his mistress to drop off the monthly stipend, if you will. The man informs Ramadhir that Sardar would be making the visit without his usual band of gunmen.
His mistress adds on to the informants and lets Ramadhir know about Sardar’s activity. She calls him as soon as he leaves her home. A score befitting a hero plays in the background. The influences from the spaghetti westerns of the old west come up on screen. The feeling that this might be the last act of Sardar Khan’s life hit me like a wave. I perked up. I wanted to see if this evil man I had grown to like would perish like his father did, by the hands of Ramadhir Singh. I watched as Sardar Khan pulled over at a fuel station. He sat there waiting while his car was being filled. He looks up at the rearview mirror only to see 4 armed men on motorcycles come up from behind. He realizes the trouble he is in and ducks.
A hail of bullets is fired at him. The bullets shatter the windshields and windows of the car. The men keep emptying round after round into the car. Once they run out of ammunition, they make a run for it. One of the gunmen is captured in the commotion.
But it doesn’t end there.
The camera shows us Sardar’s passenger side door. The door opens very gently. Sardar Khan is still alive if not kicking. His shirt is covered in blood and holes where the bullets have entered his body. He has the 1000-yard stare as he tries to move out of the car with his left hand toting a gun while nursing his head. He takes his hand off his head as he tries to push himself out of the car. He may have one last fight left in him. But alas I saw the bullet wound in his head as he took his hand off.
My heart sank.
I knew this was a gritty film and no man who gets shot that much was going to live but I was still holding out some hope for him. The exceptionally perfect Bihari song started playing in the background. If the film was going to send Sardar Khan to meet his maker, it was going to do it in style. Sardar kept moving and breathing for a few more seconds. He just did not know when to give up. I watched him struggle, not with sadness, but with a look of pride in my eyes. Even though I knew this man was reprehensible, I was still rooting for him. I loved the movie for giving him the perfect exit. He stood for a second with the sun beaming down over his head and he gently fell over into a nearby cart which came in after he was shot.
The song stopped. The gun in his hand fell to the ground. The little monologue of him wanting to be end of Ramadhir Singh started to repeat in the background. The cart’s wheel ran over the gun and it fired the one bullet it had in its chamber. The two biggest parts of Sardar Khan’s life came over the screen as he was being taken away into the city of Wasseypur he tried so hard to be the king of. As soon as the monologue finished, the song kicked in with a loud thump again. My face which was beaming with pride for the fallen bad guy changed to a face with a smile stretching from ear to ear. I knew I had to watch Part 2.
Even if Sardar Khan would not be a part of it, I had to know where this story was going to go. That is how you leave the audience asking for more. That is the hallmark of a fantastic scene.