Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gangs of Wasseypur

Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) is a brilliant movie directed by Anurag Kashyap and starring talented actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui this is one of my favourites. If title makes you think that this movie will portray classy gang wars with characters using brilliant tactics and fancy weapons, then you are clearly mistaken. Gangs of Wasseypur portrays human emotions in a very raw form. May it be Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) killing Ramadhir’s (Tigmanshu Dhulia) muscle man or Nagma (Richa Chadda) searching for Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) in a brothel or ‘permission’ scene between Mohsina (Huma Qureshi) and Faizal (Nawazzudin), all actors have done a wonderful job displaying their emotions.

Movie starts with a team of armed men converging on their archenemy’s house from different directions. Leader of this pack is Sultan (Pankaj Tripathy). He’s shown toting a AK-series weapon. Considering easy availability of such weapons in illegal arms market, chances are that it was AK-47 and not Type 56 (erroneously referred to as AK-56) since it did not sport telltale folding bayonet. Of course like most props in Bollywood movies it is out of proportion and looks little different than the real thing.

Other members of his team are shown carrying similar weapons. Few of them were shown carrying FN FAL (aka SLR or 1A1) and Sterling SMGs. Although SLR may be easily available in black market, Sterling might be tough to get and is not very well-known for its performance in open spaces as well as CQB (Close-Quarter Battle). It fires 9 mm Parabellum rounds and hence shorter lethal range. Moreover it is fed by a magazine installed perpendicular to rest of the weapon. This decreases its utility in CQB roles like room clearing. Interesting weapon out of all this was what looked like a cross between INSAS and SLR. Although in terms of size it looks more like a SLR, gas mechanism is that of INSAS. Moreover fore-grip and magazines also looked different than standard INSAS rifle. For reference you may compare images below to get an idea about how different both weapons are.


INSAS Assault Rifle. Standard and folding stock variant.
As movie goes into a flashback, we get to see other weapons which Hollywood movies are deprived of. Primary one is country gun. Now there is a very specific term for country pistols in Northern India. It is called a ‘Katta’. Quality of Katta varies drastically. While some Kattas may have good quality and are fairly reliable, others do more harm to the person wielding/firing it. From what I know, Kattas are single-shot break-barrel pistols firing 12-gauge shotgun or rifle rounds.

Kattas are portrayed very accurately in this movie where a gunsmith says that he would need tubes from steering columns of trucks. His reason was that tubes from cycle frame are weak and would burst and create a ‘flower’ out of a barrel. In spite of using such tubes from trucks, Kattas turned to a flower on multiple occasions in the movie. Movie showed massive recoil from such Kattas during firefights.

Her name isn't Katta. She's Arianna and in addition to other wares, she's flaunting SA 58 (based on FN FAL).
Apart from firearms mentioned below, there were scenes where characters are shown using country-made bombs, double barreled shotguns and a favourite of Bollywood – Beretta 92. It is shown in various scenes spanning timeline. Yadavji used one to kill Shahid Khan. After few decades Shahid Khan’s grandson Faizal purchases Beretta 92 from Yadavji and ultimately kills Yadavji with same weapon ticking off one character off “Family Revenge List”. This also proved the adage “Live by the gun, die by the gun”, how apt.

Since there were few more characters to be killed, Director and actors did not want to finish movie so early, they kept on shooting ending with a 5-hour megathon. Wiser minds prevailed and decided to break it into two parts. My take on sequel to Gangs of Wasseypur – very thoughtfully titled Gangs of Wasseypur 2 – will come soon with its interesting set of weapons. As soon as I get time to watch it and writing bug bites me. Till then, happy shooting. Here’s a related song from GoW to keep you happy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Madras Cafe

Madras Cafe is a movie that is hard hitting in its portrayal of conflict in Sri Lanka and waves it created on political canvas of South Asia. This movie brings to fore a very old political adage "there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests". Although this movie does not boast big stars from Hindi film industry, most actors have done justice to their characters. Anyways, let us discuss about firearms used in Madras Cafe and my comments on them.

Weapons and equipment used by Indian Army in Madras Cafe (Indian Peace Keeping Force - IPKF)

Sea King Mk42 Helicopter

Sea King Helicopters are shown in many scenes throughout the movie. Surprising one was a Sea King flying near Kasuali in opening scenes. Sea King is a naval helicopter operated by Indian Navy. What naval Sea King was doing in land locked Kasauli is beyond me. Moreover Indian Navy didn't have enough number of Sea King helicopters to fly so many sorties in Sri Lanka and under threat of ground fire from LTTE once full-scale hostilities broke out. 
Sea King Squadron INAS 336 "Flaming Arrows" with children and staff of Evangel Ashram, Koonammavu  at their premises with a Sea King in background. Courtesy - Indian Navy
As an aside, Sea King has also starred in Yahaan along side Jimmy Shergill and Minissha Lamba. In Yahaan, Sea King was again found in most unlikely location - Srinagar. Since director of both Yahaan and Madras Cafe is Shoojit Sircar, it seems he is completely fascinated with Sea King. Indian Navy, are you listening. Dude might be interested in a midnight drop with MARCOS.

Unidentified Helicopters

At beginning of the movie when John starts with origin of Tamil struggle, there is a small scene portraying Jaffna University drop. In actual drop, 13th Sikh LI and 10th Para (SF) troops flew on Mi-8 helicopters of Indian Air Force. In real life helicopters landed amidst heavy fire and troops disembarked from the helicopters. In movie troops are shown slithering down from UH-60 'Black Hawk' helicopter during this scene. Please visit Descent Into Danger  - The Jaffna University Helidrop for a detailed description about Jaffna University raid.

Mi-8 of Indian Air Force. Courtesy - Bharat Rakshak
Movie also has some scenes where AH-64x Apache are shown. Indian armed forces have never operated this helicopter. But yes, they did operate attack helicopters in Sri Lanka. These were Mi-25 'Akbar' of Indian Air Force. Some of you might be familiar with this monster of a helicopter called Mi-24 from the movie Rambo III. Mi-25/35 happens to be export version of Mi-24. Similarly movie depicts that Indian troops fly in UH-60 Black Hawk to conduct a raid on Anna's base. This is absurd as Indian armed forces never operated Black Hawk. Interestingly Black Hawk might be only real world helicopter to have a featured in name of a movie. I am sure many of you have seen Black Hawk Down about an encounter between US forces and Somalian militia.

Upgraded Mi-25/35 of Indian Air Force. Courtesy - Bharat Rakshak

Machine Guns

In the sequence where John Abraham identifies location of Anna (LTF leader) and Indian troops attack his base, Indian soldier are depicted firing M-60. This is completely inaccurate as Indian Army has never used this weapon. M-60 machine gun was a standard General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) of US armed forces. Standard GPMG of Indian Army at that time was FN MAG and standard issue Light Machine Gun (LMG) was venerable 'Bren' gun from WW II.

Suniel Shetty firing a Bren gun in movie LOC Kargil. Courtesy - Internet Movie Firearms Data Base 

In couple of sequences, Indian troops are shown using what looked like AR-15/M16 family of rifles with scope. In reality Indian troops went in armed with full length 1A1 rifle popularly called SLR (Self Loading Rifle). This weapon based on FN FAL did not have a full-auto fire mode. It was a full-size battle rifle, well suited for plains and open areas, but cumbersome in jungles and built-up areas. As troops became familiar with their area of operations and guerrilla tactics employed by LTTE, they sawed of barrels of  SLRs and made changes to fire it in full-auto. This leveled the ground somewhat in firearms as LTTE was armed with AK (AK-47, AKM, Type 56, etc.) family of weapons capable of firing in full-auto providing high volume of fire. Some troops were also armed Sterling L2A1 Sub-Machine Gun (SMG). A number of troops also used AKs captured from LTTE fighters.

Firearms and equipment used by LTF in Madras Cafe (and LTTE in real life)


In some sequences, LTTE is shown using SLRs. This is accurate as LTTE was initially armed and supplied by RAW. Their initial weapons included SLR. A number of SLR were also captured during clashes with Indian Army. In one of the scenes, Anna is shown using a AR-15/M16 family weapon with a scope. This is accurate as leadership was issued M16 while rest of the troops relied on venerable AK-47, Type 56 (aka AK-56), AKM, etc. AR-15/M16 are believed to have been sourced from 'Golden Triangle' - an area that overlaps Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. AK family is preferred world over by 'freedom fighters' engaged in guerrilla warfare and terrorists alike. Primary reason for its popularity is virtually no maintenance requirement, easy availability of ammunition and rugged build quality. 

In weapon landing sequence, one of the fighters is shown using a SVD Dragunov. It is possible that LTTE fighters received Dragunovs as part of weapons cache or captured from Indian troops.

Indian Army sniper using SVD Dragunov. Courtesy - Bharat Rakshak
Before I end this post, I would like to thank John Abraham and his team for making this movie and wish them great success. Our generation needs to know about what our forces went through to protect civilians. It also serves as a reminder to our political class on how not to conduct foreign policy. Sri Lanka conflict took a heavy toll not only on Sinhalese and Tamils, but also on our armed forces due to loss of 1200 brave men. Not only did this conflict claimed Indian lives, but it also created turbulence in Indian politics and claimed life of our ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

I hope Bollywood takes notice of wars and battles fought by Indian armed forces and try to bring them to silver screen so that aam aadmi is reminded of sacrifices made by our real heroes. 

Jai Hind!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Weapons of Bollywood - Introduction

Bollywood is popular term used to refer to Hindi film industry. Although Mr. Amitabh Bachchan hates this term, I'll stick to it considering widespread usage. Indians love movies as much as cricket and gossip. Bollywood has a special place in heart of most Indians due to unique characteristics of Hindi movies. 

Biggest USP of Hindi films being song and dance sequences. Most of the times songs are forced to fit in entire plot. I mean it is ok if lead actors are in love and behaving silly. But entire colony or college matching steps with them and dancing together is plain absurd.

Bollywood ki kasam, that's exactly what I am talking about 
Anyways, I won't go on with what sucks in Bollywood, but something that Bollywood manages to mess up almost all the time. That thing is weapons. Revolvers keep shooting endless rounds without reloads. Most rifles are like Sten gun. Shell casings almost never eject from firearms. Shotguns for long distance precision shooting. List is almost endless. What I have tried to do here is identify and list weapons used in Bollywood movies. If you have any inputs or suggestions then feel free to share the same with me.