Gandu | Asshole
DIRECTOR: Kaushik Mukherjee (Q) | WRITERS: Kaushik Mukherjee, Surojit Sen | CAST: Anubrata Basu, Joyraj Bhattacharya, Rii, Kamalika Banerjee, Shilajit Majumdar | India
I suppose I should start as the movie does with the title: Gandu. In four overlapping man-on-the-street interviews, we’re told that the Bengali word “gandu” means “stupid”, “fucker”, “loser”, and “moron”, to go by the English subtitles. The translations are similar in German, but in any case the international title for the film, Asshole, gives the flavor. Gandu is also the nickname of the film’s main character, a directionless young man who lives at home with his mother and hates everything except drugs, personal-shooter video games, Internet porn, and aggressive rap music. Indeed, his only ambitions are to win the lottery (which he plays with money stolen from his mother’s purse) and to become a rap superstar himself (we see him rapping in his imagined music videos). Gandu the character may be a familiar type in American and European films, but this is a Bengali film set in Howrah, Calcutta’s industrial twin. Indeed, Gandu the movie intentionally transgresses all the boundaries of taste and decorum that exist in Indian cinema and culture in general with its frank depictions of general dissoluteness, drug use, and full-frontal sex that would be notably explicit* even in Western cinema. It’s not surprising that India’s Central Board of Film Certification has refused to grant a license for the film to be shown in public.
And I’m going to stop writing now because Anton Bitel in Eye for Film says almost everything I would have about the film. He doesn’t stress enough just how gorgeous the B&W cinematography is. Nor does he stress just how good the editing and sound editing are. Nor does he talk about how important Kali in all her terrifying destructiveness is to the movie. Maybe I’ll write about them later, after I’ve digested the film a bit more. Until then, here are some screen captures.
*It’s interesting that while Gandu may not include any lip-on-lip kissing, for years forbidden under India’s film censorship rules, it does include both unsimulated masturbation to orgasm and unsimulated oral sex. Also interesting is that full-frontal nudity is confined to Gandu alone and then only when he’s in a state of arousal.
[Notes to self: Local taunters: do they call him Gandu? source of name? (check intro to mystic: G defiant?) Gay element (dream of Ricksha, Gandu seeks out Ricksha, tender looks, cradling: in dream? OD?); lurid color sex switch to B&W when thinks of mother; women's tits only on blurry monitor/TV set, otherwise it's male frontal erect, coming, bj; Pirandellian? is this all the movie GANDU that Kaushik is making or is Kaushik filming only part of hallucination? (who is standing behind G&R filming?) is success at end -- continuation of vox pop of women on the star Gandu/music vid w/shades and Bollywood babe? Patterns in how G and G&R are shot (above/below, distanced from each other/camera, end: R hanged?). Kinetic typography, diffs in typography btw English & German -- significant? Kali important -- first img Gandu under Kali, crosses self both times at Kali shrine (?), hallucination vampire Kali, G = Kali tongue end (!)]