MUMBAI: Imagine if we had had over-the-top (OTT) content platforms in the good old 90s? I am certain that had this been the case, we would have had masala-filled web series giving a run for their money to films like Agneepath, Ghatak, Vaastav, Satya, and many more. Gangster stories were huge in Bollywood at the time. Attempted revivals have been made by Ram Gopal Varma and few successful ones by Anurag Kashyap through Gangs of Wasseypur and now Sacred Games. Mirzapur arrives a bit late in this ‘ilaaka of gundagiri’ and seems like old wine served in a new bottle.
This is the story of the powerful Tripathi family, who literally owns Mirzapur in UP. Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) calls himself the King of Mirzapur, and his son Munna Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) wants to rule the city. The Tripathis are a mafia who manufacture local pistols and deal in opium, while their legit business is carpet manufacturing. Enter Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal) and his younger brother Bablu Pandit (Vikrant Massey), who, in an attempt to save their family, have no option but to work for Kaleen Bhaiya. Their courage and smartness help them achieve what Munna dreamed of, but their association with Kaleen gives birth to gang rivalry with Munna.
Mirzapur has pretty much everything that Indian filmmakers have given us so far: college presidency fights, land disputes, gunshots, and lots of them. Cuss words thrown in by the dozen and sex scenes, which honestly seem to be added just because the show is on an OTT platform.
The least we expect is for the treatment to be better and more unique. Creators Punit Krishna and Karan Anshuman disappoint in that aspect too. The direction is rather lethargic. Why zoom in on a candle followed by a transition to the moon while shooting a sex scene? It reminds one, and not in a good way, of two flowers kissing in old Hindi films to depict making love. The use of sepia tone to show the flashback is another done-to-death formula.
The duo seems heavily inspired by Anurag Kashyap movies. I would have said fully, had they focused on the dialogues. Dialogues are the essence of such crime and revenge stories. Punit and Karan, along with Vineet Krishnan, leave us high and dry with no lines that we remember once are done watching the show. However, the screenplay still manages to hold the show, which treads on a very thin story line.
The series does seem a bit stretched. Even the music and the background score fail to add to the overall drama.
The major positive is the stellar cast. Barring Ali Fazal, who tries to ape Sanjay Dutt, everyone delivers a fine performance. The star for me, however, is Vikrant Massey, who plays a shy and intelligent person at first. As the show progresses, the shades in his characters are highlighted and he delivers flawlessly on each one of them. Pankaj Tripathi, who was pitched as the crowd puller for this show, is remarkable. The seasoned actor doesn’t disappoint. His subtle acting makes you believe if there is any Kaleen Bhaiya, it is him. Divyendu Sharma has left his funny character of Liquid from Pyaar Ka Punchnama behind and gets into the skin of the ambitious loser Munna Tripathi so brilliantly that he is sure to win several OTT awards this year. Rajesh Tailang, who plays Guddu and Bablu’s honest father and lawyer, deserves a special mention. Rasika Duggal, even in a rather insignificant character, definitely leaves an impression. However, a talent like Kulbhushan Kharbanda is wasted. He has a handful of lines and sits on a wheelchair throughout. His scenes are reminiscent of Hector Salmanca of Breaking Bad.
The cinematography by Sanjay Kapoor compliments the mood of the show and adds to the drama in the scenes, be it the dimply lit Tripathi Mansion or the outdoor street scenes. Even the costumes and styling by Neelancha Ghosh and Darshan Jalal add an element of reality to the characters.
However to conclude, you are left wishing for better direction and finer writing. These could have greatly enhanced this tried and tested formula show.
I am going with a generous 3 out 5 stars.
★★★½ Very Good
★ Snooze fest
Add new comment