And I thought that Anurag Kashyap had really excelled himself in Dev D, especially since messing with a proven classic can be a tricky proposition. He succeeded and eminently so! Barely had I recovered from that awesome movie that AK has unleashed another explosion of emotions with a relentless assault on our sensibilities. Set amidst the feudal ethos of Rajasthan the story is about the pursuit of ambition, accumulation of power, innocent & betrayed love. In true Shakespearean milieu there are plots and sub plots and yet some more hidden beneath them but each interconnected to finally merge in the inevitable climax so much like a Greek tragedy.
Barring Kay Kay Menon nearly everybody is a fresh face. The main lead Raja Singh Chaudhary is also the author of the story revolving around student politics which was rewritten by Anurag Kashyap and Aparna Chaturvedi after incorporating rebellious regional aspirations sequential to the perceived injustices by the state. So very contemporary and yet so well portrayed! Kay Kay is the parochial manipulator who uses the students’ politics to build a cadre for pursuing his secessionist agenda. Abhinayu Pratap Singh is the reclusive & reckless prince trying to hide from the riches of his father. Aditya Srivastava & Ayesha Mohan are the prince’s half blood Machiavellian siblings whose yearning for legitimacy drives them to deception and murder. Deepak Dobriyal is Kay Kay’s main hit man and Man Friday. Mahie Gill as Kay Kay’s mistress impresses once again with her vivaciousness & natural acting ability. Jesse Randhawa’s walk from the ramp to the screen shows a lot of promise.
I have to dedicate a separate paragraph to Piyush Mishra. The man has till now played bit roles in sundry movies and penned the script for Black Friday but in this pic he writes, he composes the music, sings and acts too. This will easily be one of the performances of the year if not the decade. First the music! Don’t gloss over the songs. Hear them; hear the lyrics and you will be bowled over. While “Arambh hai prachand” sounds the battle cry, his rendition of “Duniya” which is a take on Pyaasa’s classic “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya hai” manages to retain its integrity and freshness. The mujra song “Rana ji” has to be one of the most original I have heard in a long time. Using traditional language and style, the lyrics go global without a warning. So with the sexy thumka of Mahie Gill you are suddenly presented with an in your face commentary on 9/11 (Jaise door desh ke tower main ghus jaye re aeroplane), Iraq, Afghanistan, democracy and the cola wars. Whacky imagination at its best! Another beautiful composition is “Sheher” sung along with the talented Swanand Kirkire (Remember Khoya Khoya Chand). Mishra plays the role of the schizophrenic musician elder brother of Kay Kay. He idolizes John Lennon, composes on the spot poetry and has an opinion on everything. The pathos on his face after he loses his dancing consort is heart breaking.
I feel Anurag Kashyap is not an ordinary movie maker. His movies are like a painting canvas where he tries to marry various art forms. If the music resounds of folk songs and fine poetry the shots of the practicing Ram Leela characters impart a theatre like color. If one song reminds you of the wandering minstrels the other carries the guitar strums of western country music. He is also a die hard romantic. Look for John Lennon’s sketch peeking out from the mad poet’s medallion and posters of Che Guevara and Jimmy Hendrix set in a neon lit bar masquerading as a residence in the middle of the desert. For me this is better than any art/parallel cinema.