Bollyspice was at the second day of the London Indian Film Festival, which saw a special screening of groundbreaking and controversial Indian Film ‘Gandu’ (Asshole). The viewing was followed by a live performance by ‘Q’, the Calcutta based rapper, who also wrote, directed and edited the film. Gandu can be best described as a ‘thrash-metal rap musical’, which was banned in India but has since found its way to over a million viewers via the internet and pirated cds!
The film is set in Kolkata and revolves around a hapless loser who is referred to as Gandu (played by Anubrata). Gandu is jobless and lives with his mum who has become a sex-worker in order to pay the bills. As he dreams of a better life and stardom, his days consist of smoking weed, playing violent video games and masturbating to online porn. He finds an outlet to his frustrations and life through rapping about his predicament. Along his journey, he meets a Bruce Lee obsessed rickshaw-driver and a married woman who he keeps bumping into at the internet cafe he regularly frequents. As Gandu descends further into the intoxication of drugs, equally his imagination becomes wilder, as does his rapping.
The film left many jaws open and visually it is not a film you will forget easily! Shot is black and white, interspersed with vox pops and rap lyrics, the film makes use of extremely edgy editing which is designed for you to share the anger and journey of Gandu. Further Gandu depicts masturbation, oral-sex and sexual intercourse, thus pushing the boundaries of what we define as acceptable in Indian cinema.
Gandu may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but is definitely an intense experience, reminiscent to watching Trainspotting or Requiem for a dream – a depiction of drugs and the effects of intoxication on the mind. The films real beauty lies in its use of rap and music to represent the state of mind of the main character. This brings us to Gandu Circus…
For the first time ever, following the viewing of the film, the audience was treated to a live performance by the rapper and director ‘Q’, with music that has been heavily inspired by the U.K’s Asian Dub Foundation. ‘Q’ presented some of the main raps from the film, accompanied by his band and played to the backdrop of visual imagery from India. The performance was a real blend of cinema and music and gave the audience a fine example of fearless filmmaking and music, which refuses to follow conventions and is beyond the norm of what regular cinema-goers expect from Indian cinema.
Definitely not a film for everyone and not to everyones taste, but kudos to the London Indian Film Festival for providing a platform to ‘Q’ and Gandu for alternative cinema. If you are interested you catch the trailer for Gandu here: “>