Review: ‘Gandu’

A high-energy example of a rarefied genre.

A high-energy example of a rarefied genre, Bengali thrash-metal rap musical “Gandu” grabs auds by the throat and gradually works its way down. Dystopic/disaffected-youth story eventually segues into sequences of hardcore porn, which will limit exposure for what is, all told, a promising display of talent from helmer Q. Festival play could give some exposure to happily transgressive rhyme-fueled romp.

The title character — whose name translates as “asshole” — isn’t the most sympathetic young lad: Angry, shiftless, preoccupied with his own flair for freestyling, Gandu lives with his mother (Kamalika) and keeps himself in rupees by crawling into her bedroom while she’s having sex with her lover, Dasbabu (Shilajit), and stealing half the money in his wallet (Dasbabu is apparently pretty well fixed).

Pursued by a camera that seems to be suffering attention deficit disorder, Gandu saturates the audio with a torrent of ire-inspired rap (“You will be a balloon/And I will be the pin”) as the English translations fill the screen in block typography and the cutting maintains a jackrabbit pace. Any connection to traditional screen storytelling is pretty well severed, as is Gandu’s connection to the world around him by the small outrages and disappointments he suffers within his opportunity-free Indian environment — and his ongoing emasculation via his mother’s lover.

Q overlays lyrics, beats, images and graphics to create a singular, often high-velocity pace, especially after Gandu meets the rickshaw-puller named, oddly enough, Ricksha (Joyraj), a Bruce Lee acolyte with whom Gandu starts down a road of drugs, debauchery and eventually sex. Predominantly shot in black-and-white, “Gandu” shifts, “Oz”-like, into color during the title subject’s elaborate deflowering by a hooker (Rii) who displays no inhibitions at all. Neither does Q, for that matter, and his “Gandu” seems guaranteed to win over fans exhausted with the tried and true.

Production values are excellent, except when intended not to be.




A GH Resources and Dream Digital presentation of an Overdose Joint. Executive producer, Dipankar Chaki. Directed by Q. Screenplay, Surajit Sen, Q.


Camera (B&W/color, widescreen); Q; editors, Manas Mittal, Q; music, Five Little Indians; sound, Dipankar Chaki, Anirban Sengupta; animation FX, Blowfish FX. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival (special screenings), Jan. 22, 2011. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- Panorama.) Running time: 85 MIN.


Anubrata, Joyraj, Kamalika, Shilajit, Rii. (Bengali dialogue)
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