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Meet the BRILLIANT cast of Gangs Of Wasseypur

Last updated on: June 27, 2012 18:48 IST

Meet the BRILLIANT cast of Gangs Of Wasseypur

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Sonil Dedhia, Nishi Tiwari in Mumbai
It's been a week since Anurag Kashyap's Gangs Of Wasseypur hit movie screens all across India. And what a week it has been! The response from almost all quarters can be described as manic, passionate, polarizing, much like the movie itself.

It's hardly surprising considering there are just too many things to rave about in Anurag Kashayp's latest epic. 

One of the film's biggest highlights is its actors and their brilliant performances. Would you like to know them better? Here's a closer look at the brilliant supporting cast of Gangs Of Wasseypur.
Pankaj Tripathi

Character: Sultan Qureshi, butcher and henchman. Sultan's only agenda is to kill Manoj Bajpayee's Sardar Khan.

Tripathi comes from a small village called Belsan, in the Gopalganj district in Bihar. 

His village still does not have television, and the nearest theatre is 25 kilometers away. His parents are farmers and don't know much about the film their son has done such marvellous work in.

"It is unfortunate that my parents have never seen in any of my films," Tripathi says. "Whenever I visit them, I show them some of my works on the laptop which makes them happy and proud about me."

Now, the actor wants to show his latest film to his parents, and plans to make a trip as soon as the DVD of GOW is out.
 
Getting the role, however, was not easy.

"My auditions lasted eight hours," he says. "I was asked to act out a couple of scenes. I was very tired but I didn't give up. Anurag later saw my work and offered me the role."

Tripathi has never visited Wasseypur or Dhanbad but he claims that some of the gangsters from those places called him before the start of the shoot. "Three to four gangsters contacted me as they were curious to know about the film. But they didn't mean to harm anyone. In fact, I would say I was fortunate to listen to them as that helped me in the preparation of my character."
 
The shoot had its own share of challenges. Since he played a butcher, one of the scenes (pictured above) actually made him vomit. 

"We shot in a real butcher factory in Allahabad. The people working at the factory were so excited that a film was being shot there, that they started cutting buffaloes in front of us in order to show blood and flesh everywhere. The shoot lasted for four hours, and the whole unit started vomiting then. For the next seven days, no one ate non-vegetarian food!" he exclaims.

Sultan was the toughest role in Tripathi's life yet. "If you see the film, unlike other characters, there isn't any story behind my character. I don't have any emotional or romantic angle that builds up my character. Also, on one hand, Sultan is a terror and on the other, he is a harmless creature in front of Ramadhir Singh. It was pretty tough to create a balance."

Before Tripathi bagged GOW, he had been struggling for 12 years, doing theatre. A graduate from National School of Drama, Delhi, Tripathi landed in Mumbai five years ago.

"I did not become an actor to earn money -- that I could have done it in my village by becoming a farmer. I wanted to show my craft which I am so passionate about," he says. Earlier this year, the actor was seen in a small role in Agneepath.

Now, Tripathi is overwhelmed with the response GOW has got. "It's completely unexpected for me," he says. "A lot of people have complimented me on my performance. I became very emotional and even cried a couple of times on Friday, when the film released."

Image: Pankaj Tripathi in Gangs of Wasseypur


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Richa Chadda

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Character: Nagma, Manoj Bajpayee's fiery wife

Richa Chadda first came to everybody's notice as the quintessential middle-class Delhi girl Dolly in Dibakar Banerjee's Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. 

Despite having made quite an impact with just four scenes in her first film, this Delhi-bred St Stephens graduate had to wait for four years before her true moment of glory.

So how did she land GOW? "Somebody sent me to audition for both Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Dev D within two days. Although I didn't get the part in Dev D, Anurag Kashyap said he wanted to cast me in his film. So he called me up after a year and a half of that audition and said he had a role for me in this new film he was working on," she says.

When asked about her favourite bits in the film, she says, "I liked almost all my scenes with Manoj Bajpayee because they have a comic element in them. Particularly the one where he's trying to hold me from behind and I accidentally hit him. He gets hurt and falls down because he has an erection. I didn't like my scenes with the kids and the one with Piyush Mishra because they were scandalous." 

So how did she prepare for the role? "There was a 10-day workshop before we started shooting for the film. The first two-three days were dedicated to acting and the rest of the days were spent getting to know all the people in the team. All of us play members of a big family in the film so in order to have that sense of familiarity manifest on screen, it was important," she adds.
 
The film is against the backdrop of coal mafia in Wasseypur, a small town near Dhanbad in Jharkhand and all characters speak in the Magahi dialect. What makes Chadda's Nagma Khatoon astoundingly believable is her accent. 

"People were shocked to see me as Nagma Khatoon because in real life, I'm a city girl. As far as getting the accent right is concerned, it just takes four-five days of work. All you have to do is get the pronunciations right. Manoj helped me a lot there," Chadda says. "Like you say Phaijal (Faizal) ki saadi (shaadi) hai. Also, my nani (maternal grandmother) is from Patna. So I spent some time with her too."

But she admits that that wasn't the hard part of her performance, "The real challenge comes in Gangs Of Wasseypur part two. I would say my role in the second part is substantial enough to make a difference to the turn of events. I can't reveal more than that right now."

For someone just starting out in the industry, the kind of feedback Chadda is getting for her role is unprecedented. "I'm overwhelmed with the feedback I'm getting for my performance. I'd never imagined that people would be so generous with compliments," she says.

"I've always believed that if you're a good actor, everybody -- critics, fans -- will love you but I never imagined this kind of feedback. There's hardly any review of the film that's left me out, even the most difficult critics who hated the film raved about my performance. So I'm really touched."

And just like that, she quotes Dolly, the Oye Lucky character, "Main touch ho gayi by God," and bursts into laughter.

There's one compliment that stands out though, she says. A leading English daily scribe described her Nagma Khatoon as the best female character written in the recent times and that she was flawlessly portrayed. 
 
"The fact that the article said she was even better than The Dirty Picture meant a lot to me," the actress signs off.

Image: Richa Chadda in Gangs of Wasseypur


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Jaideep Ahlawat

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Character: Shahid Khan, father of Manoj Bajpayee's Sardar Khan

Jaideep claims his phone has not stopped ringing since the film released. "People are just going crazy!" He exclaims. "Everyone is enjoying the film. I have received excellent reviews for my character."

But the best compliment he's received so far was at the recent Cannes International Film Festival.
 
"I had gone to Cannes where everyone who saw the film loved it. I look very different in the film from the way I look in real life. Many people did not recognise me, and in itself means that my hard work has paid off. People in Cannes compared my character to Don Vito Corleone (from The Godfather), which is the biggest compliment I've received (smiles)."

Alhawat's character lasts barely 20 minutes in the film but that does not bother the actor. "My character starts the film, and that's a special feeling in itself."

Alhawat explains that he did not audition for the role. "I'd done a film called Chittagong, which also stars Manoj Bajpayee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Manoj recommended my name to Anurag. I met Anurag and then everything fell into place."

The actor claims he worked hard on his look in the film. "I had never seen a coal mine in my life or ever visited Wasseypur. Before I started shooting the film, I observed people who came from that region. I also took a lot of help from the film's writer Zeeshan Qureshi, who comes from Wasseypur."

The actor says he was just an actor by accident. "I wanted to be an army officer but somehow that did not happen. During my post graduation in English literature, I was simultaneously doing theatre. That's when I decided to become an actor and enrolled myself in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India)."

Born in a small village Kharkara in Rohtak, Haryana, Alhawat has worked in films like Aakrosh, Khatta Meetha and Rockstar, where he has always played negative characters.

After GOW, Alhawat will be seen in Kamal Hassan's upcoming film Vishwaroopam, playing a negative character once again. "Kamal sir is a living legend. He has been in the industry for almost 50 years. It was a privilege working with him. I worked with him for 70 days. I learnt so much on the shoot," he says.

Image: Jaideep Ahlawat in Gangs of Wasseypur


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Vineet Kumar

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Character: Danish Khan, eldest son of Manoj Bajpayee's Sardar Khan.
 
Vineet Kumar is elated that his 13-year struggle has finally paid off. "My phone has not stopped ringing. This is the proudest moment of my life (smiles). I don't think GOW would have been made by anyone else but Anurag Kashyap," he gushes.

The actor hails from the town of Banaras in Uttar Pradesh. A doctor by profession and a national level basketball player, Kumar says he always wanted to act. "When I was in class two, I went up on stage for the first time, and did something weird. I was to play a tribal but since I didn't have any costumes, I just covered myself with newspapers (laughs)." 

Although Kumar did not win, he got a lot of compliments -- and ice cream! -- for his performance.
 
It was in 1999 when Kumar decided to participate in a talent hunt show, to be telecast on Doordarshan. Director Mahesh Manjrekar was one of the judges. Kumar won the talent hunt and landed a role in Mahesh Manjrekar's Pitaah. The film, unfortunately, sank without a trace.

After that, Kumar's struggle started. He would visit one office after another in search of acting opportunities. Many people advised him to go back to Banaras, leaving him distraught. He would even cry at nights, but he never gave up.
 
He started assisting Manjrekar in his films, and helping with movie scripts. He also acted in Manjrekar's films like Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav, Waah Life Ho Toh Aisi, Mee Shivajraje Bhosale Bolte among others.
 
During these years, his family would support and encourage him. "Whatever I am today is because of them," Kumar acknowledges.

Finally, in 2010, Manjrekar's bilingual film City Of Gold -- in which Kumar had a role -- landed the actor a role in GOW. "Anurag Kashyap had seen the film and he offered me the role of Danish Khan without any audition," Kumar says.
 
"The film is like medicine on my wounds," Kumar says. "I am sure it will open doors for me. It has restored my faith in myself as an actor."

Kumar will be seen next in Isaac, starring Prateik, and Mastaan, starring Naseeruddin Shah and and his son Vivaan.

Image: Vineet Kumar in Gangs of Wasseypur


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Piyush Mishra

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Character: Farhan, guardian to Manoj Bajpayee's Sardar Khan.
 
Piyush Mishra has been a regular feature in Kashyap's films like Black Firday, Gulal and That Girl In Yellow Boots. 

The 49-year-old actor plays Farhan, who takes care of Shahid Khan's child after Shahid's death. He is also the narrator of the film, and takes us through the story.
 
Mishra says that Kashyap had given him a choice to play either Farhan or Ramadhir Singh, which is later portrayed by director Tigamanshu Dhulia. Mishra went with Farhan.
 
Mishra has also written three songs in the film -- Keh Ke Loonga, Ik Bagal and Manmauji. The first song has become such a hit that even Mishra is surprised with it.
 
Mishra has never taken any formal training in music but has always had an inclination towards it. "I have been inspired by Kishore Kumar, RD Burman and O P Nayaar," Mishra says, signing off.

Image: Piyush Mishra in Gangs of Wasseypur


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