Review: Amazon Prime’s ‘Mirzapur’ Is a Gripping Tale of Gore and Intrigue
There’s a scene in Mirzapur where the son of a goon, who all but runs his college, walks into a classroom and beats up another boy who dares to contest him in the student elections. All this while, the teacher nonchalantly continues his class and says, “Arre koi party chal rahi hai kya, padho!”
Starring Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, Divyendu Sharma, Rasika Dugal and Shweta Tripathi, Mirzapur captures the nexus between crime and politics. Tripathi plays the ruthless but shrewd don Akhandanand Tripathi and Divyendu Sharma portrays his violent son Munna. Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey play two innocent boys who have an extremely honest and gutsy lawyer father Pandit. Their lives get intertwined when Pandit decides to take up a case against Munna.
I must admit that I’m not a sucker for gore and violence, which the show possesses in plenty. What interested me more was the exploration of the power dynamics of a small town, which emerges through some crackling dialogue. When a policeman comes to Tripathi’s house to inform him about his son’s antics, for example, he hesitates and says, “Sir, aapke darshan chahiye the (I wanted your blessings),” to which Tripathi says, “Kyun mein devta hoon? (Why? Am I God?)”
In another instance, Tripathi confronts Ali Fazal (Pandit’s son) and poses a veiled threat, asking him whether he cares about the safety of his family. Fazal shoots back with, “Aapka Munna humare ghar pe akar, vapas zinda nahi aaya toh?( What if your son visits us and we return his dead body to you?)”
Pankaj Tripathi is in fine form— you’re scared of him but also want more—and he delivers superb one-liners with sinister ease. The other highlight from the cast is Divyendu Sharma, aka the enfant terrible, Munna. He’s violent and unpredictable, and Sharma portrays his sense of simmering anger wonderfully.
Though in the initial couple of episodes, we don’t see much of the women—Rasika Dugal who plays Pankaj Tripathi’s wife and Shweta Tripathi who acts as a fellow college student— they seem to have interesting arcs that might be explored later. Vikrant Massey and Ali Fazal are perfect as the naive bodybuilder and nerdy student, respectively, and you feel for them as they get embroiled in a mess and witness their innocent fade
Directed by Karan Anshuman, Mihir Desai and Gurrmeet Singh, Mirzapur benefits from a fine cast and gripping storytelling that is well-paced and hinges on a sense of unpredictability. There are also all the trappings of a show about gangsters—gunshots, blood and murder galore. Which means there’s plenty to look forward to, whether you’re interested in the finer details, or are just around for some gritty drama.
(This review is based on the first two episodes of Mirzapur, which will be released on Amazon Prime Video on 16 November.)