Gangs of Puri : Anatomy of a Desi Gang war

By Kedar Mishra


They are peculiar in their appearance and utterance, but they are real. They do exist in flesh and blood. They walk carelessly carrying country made guns in their back pockets in the dark lanes of a small temple town of Odisha. They can pray and kill with equal ease. Their violence is as normal as a cup of tea. They can be human butchers and servitors at the same time. They can use slang and Shlokas with the same spirit. They are crime masters in a temple city. They have their tiny world of crime in a small pilgrimage centre. It’s a series of dark stories covering multitude of dramatic events. There are stories within a meta story: multi layered, nuanced and explicitly gory. It’s about the life of blood and darkness, greed and treachery, killing and power game, paedophile and sexual abuse, conspiracy and political compulsions.”Gangs Of Puri” the Odia web series released in OTT platform “Kancha Lanka” is a Desi version of   Martin Scorsese’s film “Gangs of New York” or Anurag Kashyap’s  Bollywood  crime thriller “Gangs of Wassepur”. 

I do prefer to write about this web series simply because it looks like a pure Desi series having elements of rustic reality. In a critical sense one can easily talk about Scorsese or Kashyap as they are more famous and top stars on the sky and it would be too simplistic to compare them to a small budgeted Odia web series. “Gangs of Puri” is not as vast and historic as “Gangs of New York” or not as detailed and panoramic as “Gangs of Wassepur”.  It may lack cinematic sophistication and grandeur, but the series is extremely original in its approach, attitude and language. After a long time, here is a cinematic work which relies on the society,language and culture of its own. The use of Puri Boli ( a special way of speaking and oratorical style typically used by the people of Puri in Odisha) in the series is in its artistic best. Consciously I do appreciate the language of this web series which may upset Puritans and conservatives as the series frequently used slangs, four lettered words (In Odia we say “Do Akshyari” the two lettered words) and strongly dark in tones. I believe that slang is a part of the daily human language and ignoring or avoinding its use in a art work is pure hypocrisy. Its a pure joy to see three major elements of Puri life and that is Sanga( friendship), Bhanga (cannabis) and Pangata (feasting).

“Gangs of Puri” is rustically beautiful. Beauty of this series lies in violence and vulagrity of human greed. Depiction of dark underbelly of a samll town and portraying all those little monsters with sincere clarity makes the series a good piece of cinematic work. Again and again I emphasise, this series will go down in the history of Odia cinematic history as one of the most original screenpaly. Since long as audience we do eagaerly wait to watch a piece of authentic Odia film. Of course, its not a film, but as a web series it satiates the hunger for real and authentic Odia taste.

Gangs of Puri’s director’s duo Anupam Patnaik and Jagdish Mishra have registered their presence in the world of Odia cinema with immense potential. At least they know what they are doing. They very much understand the pulse of Odia life, politics, society and language. Everybody knows the dark history of crimes in Puri. In a cinematic scene where melodrama and copy paste scripts dominate the rest, “Gangs of Puri” is a shining exception of hope and future.

A part of credit goes to Akhyaya Kumar Parija of “Kancha Lanka” to commission the series and to dare to push the boundaries a bit farther.   

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