‘Mirzapur’ Review: Shining Performances Save Otherwise Weak Drama
‘Mirzapur’ runs out of steam early on and never truly recovers, but it does have one saving grace.
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Cameraperson: Abhay Singh
Amazon Prime Video India’s latest original that everyone seems to be talking about is now streaming! Created by Karan Anshuman and Puneet Krishna, Mirzapur is made up of 9 episodes and a grizzly bloodbath that sees unhinged violence and betrayal at almost every turn.
The setup is similar to an Anurag Kashyap-esque universe, but his unparalleled steadfast hold on the narrative is conspicuously missing. Details bleed out slowly as do bodies with reckless ease.
Kaleen Bhaiyya aka Akhandanand Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi) reigns supreme. Ostensibly into the carpet business, he deals with desi katta, drugs and every other kind of illegal activity with vigour. His son Munna aka Divyendu Sharma harbours aspirations of inheriting his father’s world of crime and unbridled power.
The first 3 episodes maintain the momentum as we meet one memorable character after another.
In walk two brothers – Guddu and Bablu Pandit – with their own unique idiosyncrasies. Guddu (Ali Fazal) is a gym junkie day-dreaming about being Mr Purvanchal. Bablu is the more circumspect, studious younger brother, not as ambitious as Guddu but bright enough to want to hustle up a decent living for himself. But after the initial adrenaline bursts subside, the wafer-thin plot is difficult to camouflage.
Characters with some rousing introductory scenes, like the upright lawyer father of Bablu and Guddu played by the brilliant Rajesh Tailang, or Shweta Tripathi’s healthy libido on display in the library scene suddenly seem like red herrings as the writers fail to capitalise on the initial premise.
The narrative flounders and except for the almost grotesque preoccupation and obsession with violence and blood, oozing gun shots and innards falling out, the pointlessness of it all makes it a tiresome watch. There are just not enough cliffhangers to keep us hooked.
The only saving grace then proves to be the casting that is spot-on, and performances that keep the proceedings and our spirits buoyant.
Pankaj Tripathi is staggeringly perfect with the grace of a consummate actor on display.
His soft-spoken, quietly menacing Kaleen Bhaiyya is so powerful it’s difficult to tear oneself away when the camera rests on him.
Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey peddle their distinct wares. Fazal gets into the skin of his all-brawn-no-brains character while Massey is nuanced and beautifully underplays. Rasika Duggal as Kaleen Bhaiyya’s wife exasperated by his underwhelming bedroom antics is another performance to watch out for!
Also Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the wheelchair-bound patriarch of the Tripathi family who keeps busy watching Animal Planet and then comes up with devious plans to tackle the bestiality all around is supremely effective in his role.
Now, thanks to Gangs of Wasseypur and Sacred Games the novelty of the genre is missing and comparisons are inevitable. Mirzapur runs out of steam early on and never truly recovers. Had it not been for Pankaj Tripathi and the team of talented actors we wouldn’t have been able to survive it at all.
I’ll give it 2.5 Quints out of 5.
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