It is easy to understand a consistent concern that ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ is too long and distracted with itself. But I have a feeling that if the script had been streamlined more and more into a ‘revenge drama’ with lesser digressions, it would have lost some of its charm. What makes it more than a ‘Raktacharitra’ is its quirkiness, investment in the secondary characters and creation of an entire authentic universe where all these people inhabit. It gives a true ‘epic’ feel to it.
After a point, the film(s) are not about who exacts revenge against whom. It doesn’t even matter whether it is really going anywhere. Kyu ki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi. In the eternal cycle, every one changes the role of being the offender and being offended against. And that ‘worldly’ sense comes from moral ambiguity and the personal dramas of all these major and minor characters (establishing which requires time).
Also this obsession about fitting every film into 2 hours is a new one for us. Before, Indian films didn’t bother about economy and obsessed more about giving a panorama of life in 2.5 to 3 hours. Then Hollywood came along. And commercial interest of fitting in more shows within a single day also played its role.
Definitely telling a story in 2 hours requires discipline and clarity of purpose. But we also lose out a lot if we insist on that for every film. The kind of subjects that would get made into a film would be much more unipolar and monotonous. What about having all kinds of films in terms of length, subject, span and ambition? Wouldn’t it be better to live in a future world where a film maker has the courage to imagine something like a ‘100 years of solitude’ or ‘War and peace’ not as a novel, but as a film?