Anubrata Basu and Rii in "Gandu"
Slamdance Film Festival
Gandu is a verboten Hindi term for “ass”, “asshole” or “loser” but this film is none of those. Quixotic Calcutta filmmaker Q (Qaushiq Mukherjee) takes the audience diverse places through a mélange of documentary film, music videos, sex and drug induced hallucinations in this black and white cinema masterpiece. Thank god for Slamdance—Sundance is too sanitized these days—give me blowjobs, heroin, and punk rock music I say, à la "Gandu". During the pre-screening intro Q said he wanted to “Fuck our minds”, or something equally bizarre involving a four-letter work, a term I had yet to hear uttered from the Sub-Continent. It also makes Q a marked man in the strict religious communities he hails from, unfortunately. He admittedly “might be stabbed” by a religious zealot in his homeland, Q said. For good reason, it seems. If your culture precludes showing full frontal sex scenes, the smoking of “brown sugar”/smack, and the use of sacred deities as quasi-sexual beasts then yes, you might be stabbed by those offended. Which is what makes the titular character of this work such an interesting person to watch. Gandu steals from his mom’s best client, buys drugs, visibly masturbates to ejaculation on screen, beat boxes, hires a prostitute, wins the lottery, writes punk rock songs, takes Datura—a psychedlic of the nightshade family—and runs rampant on dirty streets and railroad tracks. He also befriends a ricksha driver who actively worships Bruce Lee and leads Gandu down the path to intensified drug use. All that may sound wildly salacious, as Q’s admitted intent. There is more, though. Throughout we see the real struggles of a young man trying to weather a tumultuous relationship with his mother as he explores his questionable art (rap music) in a very conservative community and deals with the regular growing pains of teenage/late adolescent youth. The music videos used to connect the story, documentary footage genuinely shot by the actor playing Gandu, and a particularly meta-moment wherein Gandu meets a filmmaker filming his life in the middle of the film, all make for a good mind fuck indeed. Congratulations Q, and kudos to Slamdance for still keeping it real.