Vaastav: The Reality
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  • Vaastav: The Reality
  • 140 minutes  -  Crime
  • Original title: Vaastav
  • Director:Mahesh Manjreker
  • Language: Hindi
  • Country: India

Raghu and his friend hope to find work in Mumbai and try their luck at running a fast food stall. When they accidentally kill a costumer who happens to be related to a local gangster, both of them descend down a spiral that leads them directly to the Mumbai underworld.

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REVIEW BY Akash Sundavadra Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 29/08/2013

Although Indian cinema has produced countless films about Indian gangsterism, Vaastav is one of the very few that portrays an underworld kingpin – Ragu, played by Sanjay Dutt – as an anti-hero, showing his journey from vulnerable and honest man to someone in a tragic situation. The audience is caught between feeling sorry for Dutt’s character and, at other times, finding his behaviour repugnant. Since its release in 1999, the film has received critical acclaim for a number of reasons. Vaastav had unforeseen effects on India: it practically created the country’s gangster film genre, started the career of many now-famous actors, and was influential in the spread of gang culture across the nation. Today, the film is regarded as a classic, and it’s perhaps Dutt’s most notable performance.


"Vaastav portrays an underworld kingpin as an anti-hero, showing his journey from vulnerable and honest man to someone in a tragic situation."


Vaastav’s charm appeals to many aspects of Indian society. A crucial reason for its popularity lies with the fact that Dutt portrays India’s poor and vulnerable youth, still very easily pulled into a world of crime and violence. This film does not ostracise gang culture or categorise characters as good or evil. It merely reflects issues that everyday people in gangs live through.

Vaastav

Since the film shows gang culture, a lot of slang is used (known as Bombay Hindi). This slang is heavily associated with hoodlums and uneducated people in India, and most of the words are taken from Marathi, the language traditionally spoken in the state of Maharashtra. India has 28 states, each with their own regional dialect, while Hindi is the national language, borrowing words from each dialect. Since most Hindi films are made in Maharashtra, Bombay Hindi references are known throughout India (Bombay, renamed Mumbai in 1995, is the capital of Maharashtra). Notable words include “ghora,” meaning “gun,” although it literally translates into “horse,” because of the resemblance between a horse’s neigh and a gunshot, at least in Indian films; and “bhai,” meaning “gangster,” though in the context of gangs it is an endearing term, as its actual definition means “brother.” In the film, Ragu’s starts out as a street thug (know as a “tapori”) and eventually reaches the prominent position of a Mumbai “bhai.”


"This film does not ostracise gang culture or categorise characters as good or evil. It merely reflects issues that everyday people in gangs live through."


Vaastav’s portrayal of gang culture led to a rise in tapori culture, and particularly in uneducated men’s romanticism with tapori gangsterism. In many ways, Vastaav had the same effect on Indian society as The Godfather had on Italian-American delinquents. Taporis can be identified by their dress sense: bright shirts worn unbuttoned over string vests, and bandanas often tied around the neck as an accessory. Although many Indians despise taporis, they are merely the result of a neglected generation, and slowly, Indian society is addressing the lack of resources and opportunities in tapori neighbourhoods.


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