Wasseypur, the nondescript Muslim locality in the heart of Jharkhand’s coal capital Dhanbad, is all set to scorch the silver screen again. For the uninitiated, the small town is famous for the Indian School of Mines, coal mines, and mafia, perhaps not in the same order. The sleepy township in Dhanbad catapulted its way into the limelight with Anurag Kashyap’s two-part epic gangster flick Gangs of Wasseypur released in 2012. Set against the backdrop of gangland killings in the town, the film gave all those naysayers, who believed that only Mumbai could serve as the setting of gang wars, a run for their money. The man who scripted this crime thriller is a son of the soil, Zeishan Quadri.
Quadri, 33, was born and brought up in Wasseypur, which explains the passion with which he could narrate the tale of revenge between two rival families —Khans and Singhs — in the locality. The film, which was the toast of international festival circuits, won accolades for its gritty presentation of rivalries, revenge, and retributions in Wasseypur, through gripping story-telling, crazy characters, cutting-edge editing, and hundreds of actors, all of which have turned it into a cult classic.
Quadri, who had scripted the first two parts, is now busy giving final touches to the third one, which he says will be titled Gangs of Wasseypur 1.5. And mind you, he is all set to direct it as well. So get ready to watch another intense tale of vengeance, greed and ambition of the long-running feud between two families of the coal capital. But unlike the first two parts of the series that spanned over a period of 70 years, the third installment will cover 15 years at the most; it would be the period in between when the story began (1948) and ended (2009). “The other elements and setting of the film will remain the same though new characters will be introduced to add spice to the crime saga,” he said.
A writer by choice and actor by default is what describes Quadri in a nutshell. The man who can weave magic with his pen has won a plethora of awards for his debut film Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2 as a writer. “I love to write. Believe it or not, till date I have written three versions of Gangs of Wasseypur’s third part,” he said. So much and so, the other films that he has penned include his directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsters, Anu Menon’s Oh Womaniya and Firauti for Fardeen Khan Productions.
Act Another Day
Definite, the character that Quadri essayed in his debut film, Gangs of Wasseypur 2, kick-started his acting career. He had tasted blood by playing an awe-inspiring character in the crime thriller, who mouthed witty one-liners like “ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte”, and went on a killing spree to be the gangster that he always wanted to be. This dalliance hooked him to explore options as an actor and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Revolver Rani starring Kangana Ranuat-Vir Das followed next where he essayed the role of Pilot. “Over the years, I have realised that acting is my passion but not my cup of tea. I would be happy to be behind the scene. I am keen to spend my creative energy on writing scripts. That’s my real calling.” But don’t write him off as an actor. As they say, picture abhi baaki hai dost, Quadri will soon be seen in upcoming film Akki, Vikki Te Nikki, and Banana. He quoted an anecdote from his Cannes visit when an impressed American actor told him that he will be a star after Gangs of Wasseypur 2 releases in India. “I quickly corrected him that I may at the best be an actor but never a star to which he retorted that in the US all good actors worth their salts are stars,” Quadri said, adding, “Unfortunately, that is not the case in India.”
Quadri’s directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsterswas a story of six aimless young criminals from the badlands of Meerut, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, who take up to crime to make a quick buck. Though the film didn’t fare well at the box-office, it certainly left an indelible mark as a delightful comedy that kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout with its pace, witty dialogues, and excellent characterization, and most of all its setting in Meerut. “Though it is not the first film to be based on Meerut, it was the first film ever to be shot in Meerut,” he said. And why Meerut if you ask? No points for guessing. Quadri spent his undergrad years in this town and taking a slice out of his life and spice it with real-turned-reel characters seems the most obvious choice for this writer-director-producer-actor.
If Meerut’s scissors are known for their sharpness, Meeruthiya Gangsters set in the small town will be remembered for its crisp editing by none other than filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. “Anurag Sir had not seen the film, but he got to know about it from a common friend Vasan Bala. He asked me to show the film. He loved the idea of a gang of young men who set out to make money in the most unusual way. The humour and banter of the six protagonists in local dialect added to film’s flavour. But he found the editing a little sloppy which made him take charge of the job at the eleventh hour. I am glad that this venture of mine had the director’s cut,” said a proud protégé of the filmmaker. Impressed with his brilliant command over the subject and razor-sharp treatment of characters, Kashyap decided to hand over the reins of the Gangs of Wasseypur’s sequel to him. “It is a great honour for a newbie like me,” said an ecstatic Quadri. About his equation with the maverick filmmaker, he said, “I share a special bond with Anurag Sir. He is the best film school around. I am happy to be a student of his kind of cinema. We have a lot of similarities, even in our differences. The best thing about him is that he is passionate about the craft and open and forthcoming, which makes learning the nuances of film-making fun.”
Passionate About Production
“I am a creative businessman,” he quipped when prodded over his production house and its cinematic pursuits. Quadri forayed into production with Prague for his friend. But he continued to serenade the box-office beauty with his Friday to Friday Entertainers that has produced his directorial venture Meeruthiya Gangsters and is also co-producing Sarabjit, a biopic on late Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit. “Writer Rajesh Beri and former COO of Mukta Arts Rajesh Nair, who are now part of my team, were involved in this project right from the beginning. The story was languishing with Mukta Arts for almost four years. The story of Sarabjit Singh’s death stirred nation’s emotions and his sister’s Dalbir’s struggle to free him is a heart-wrenching. So I bought the rights to the story from Subhash Ghai last year. Soon others joined me and the rest is history.”
The film which will hit the screens on May 20, 2016, will be directed by Omung Kumar of Mary Kom fame, and it boasts an enviable star cast. While Randeep Hooda will be seen as Sarabjit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will essay the role of his sister Dalbir, and Richa Chaddha will play Sarabjit’s wife. The trailer and its song Salamat have already caught the nation’s imagination and as Quadri said, “Hopefully the poignant story of a sister’s struggle strikes a chord with the classes, masses, and critics alike.”
If it does, then the film will set the cash registers ringing and leave Quadri smiling his way to the banks. For a small town boy, who has traversed a long cinematic journey in just a couple of years, the feeling of making it big in Mumbai hasn’t sunk in yet. That’s modesty personified. But his hometown thinks he hung the moon and the stars! And rightfully so.
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
Actress Deepika Padukone says the success of any film depends on its impact and longevity in the market.
“I feel that now, more than ever before for me, success of a movie is really about the impact it is able to have on people’s lives. Are we able to change mindsets? Are we able to make an impact? And don’t get me wrong, not every story needs to be hard-hitting. It could be a simple emotion, like joy or love. As long as it makes you feel something, think (about) something, and evoke emotions. I think, for me, that truly is the meter of success. Also, the film should have longevity. A film that I would want to watch 10 years from now, for me, is a success,” said Deepika, at the launch of her upcoming film “Chhapaak”.
The trailer launch was also attended by the film’s director Meghna Gulzar and Deepika’s co-star Vikrant Massey. In the film, Deepika portrays real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.
Deepika also talked about working with prosthetics and make-up artists to get the look of an acid attack victim right.
“It is so Ironic, even I didn’t know what I would feel when I saw myself in the mirror for the first time (after make-up). I remember that moment very clearly, when we were doing the look test at Fox Studio office. It took me four to five hours for the look, and when I did look at myself in the mirror, I told Meghna that I still felt like myself. Nothing had changed. That is the day I found my character, and I knew what I need to do in this movie. I don’t think we are defined by our external appearances,” she said.
Talking about taking up such a challenging and gut-wrenching story, Deepika said she found the story inspiring and knew Meghna Gulzar would do justice to the film. “It is not often that you come across a story that inspires you so much, and it’s not about the incident as much as it’s about the triumph over it. I have been extremely fortunate to meet Laxmi Aggarwal. One of the most important things is the marriage between having that story and also having the right person to tell it. I could see the sincerity and the honesty, and I knew I was in good hands,” the actress explained.
Deepika added: “Very often, you come across great stories but you also need a right director to tell the story in an authentic, honest and responsible manner — especially when you’re narrating a story like this one.”
“Chhapaak is produced” by Deepika Padukone and Meghna Gulzar in collaboration with Fox Star Studios. It is scheduled on January 10. (IANS)