Mirzapur 2 web series Review: More a decent preface than a compelling centrepiece
Pankaj Tripathi, Divyendu, Shweta Tripathi, Rasika Dugal and Ali Fazal shine in a season that seems to be more about setting the stage for a hopefully more explosive season 3
The first act of violence in Mirzapur 2 doesn’t come from the hot-headed Munna or Guddu. It doesn’t even come from the senior Kaleen Bhaiya or his right-hand man, Maqbool. It comes from the reticent Gajagamini aka Golu (Shweta Tripathi) and Dimpy (Harshita Gaur). They are out on their own, fending for themselves and a terribly-wounded Guddu after the bloodshed of season 1's finale. A cutaway shot soon after this violent exchange reminds us that the gun-wielding, hollow-eyed Golu of season 2 used to be someone happily sipping on cups of chai and studying in the concealed spaces of a library. Just like Golu, every woman in Mirzapur undergoes a sea of change. Some are wizened, some are hardened, and some just become more scheming. In between the stories of all these women, lies the story of four men with daddy issues fighting for the one tag that rules them all — King of Mirzapur.
Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Divyendu
Director: Gurmmeet Singh, Mihir Desai
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
When the first season hit Amazon Prime Video, it was bhaukaal indeed. The lack of censorship in the OTT space was milked to the maximum with a never-ending stream of gore, violence, sex, and profanity. It feels as if the makers got almost everything out of their system in that first season and have now resolved to use their freedom judiciously. Yes, there are action scenes where brain matter patterns the walls and blood pools are formed around saloon chairs. However, it comes sparingly in a season that seems to be more about setting the stage for a hopefully more explosive season 3.
New families and newer players are written into this season in an attempt to make Mirzapur a more expansive crime saga. Apart from the warring Pandits and Tripathis, we now have the Tyagis and Shuklas too joining the mix, with a liberal dose of collateral damage across the board. Add to this, random permutations and combinations of double-crossing, betrayal, and treachery, and we have Mirzapur 2.
Starting from exactly where season 1 left off, we see Guddu (Ali Fazal) and Munna (Divyendu) recuperating from that damned night. However, there is no sense of urgency in exacting that revenge because the story becomes more than just about these two. Uttar Pradesh politics, which played a peripheral role in season 1, takes centre stage with Isha Talwar joining the cast as Madhuri, the widowed daughter of the chief minister. The profitable business of the guns of Mirzapur is now extended to opium trade and bootlegging. These new business ventures bring in the families of Tyagi (Lilliput Faruqui, Vijay Verma) and Shukla (Anjum Sharma, Meghna Malik).
Having so many good actors on the screen takes the spotlight away from the central conflict between Guddu-Golu and Munna-Kaleen, which consequently gets resolved too late into the series. And despite the abundance of conflicts now, it is the ones that were already present in season 1 that stand out, especially the arc of Beena (Rasika Dugal) who proves true the old adage, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.
Despite some bloated scenes, this season is livened up by the consistently excellent performances. The cast doesn’t just revel in the violence, but shines in some tender moments too. Leading from the front is the inimitable Pankaj Tripathi, who brings the necessary gravitas to a role that frequently sways between invincibility and vulnerability. Divyendu, who was a revelation in the first season, comes into his own this time around to prove that his previous performance was not a flash in the pan. Shweta once again proves that she is the Ms Consistent of the OTT space. From Rasika’s ticking time-bomb of a performance to the pure evil of Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s Bauji and Isha’s effective portrayal of restrained anger, Mirzapur 2 is bolstered by top-notch performers all around. It is their conviction that keeps us invested in this world of blood, betrayal, and mayhem, which takes too much time to get to the point.
The testosterone-laden Mirzapur 2 might seem to revolve around the Bahubalis (Dons) — the Kaleens, the Munnas and the Guddus — but, just like the pan-Indian blockbuster of that name, this series too is essentially about its women. If one decides to wreak havoc on the Tripathis, one inadvertently almost demolishes the Tyagis. If one tries to keep the Pandits together, one manages to end some huge political dreams. However, at the end of it all, when the men go about killing and maiming each other, and continue their quest for the throne of Mirzapur, they fail to understand who actually holds the power. As Subbu from Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Tamil film, Aaranya Kaandam, famously said, “Best thing about being a woman is - it's a man's world." The women of Mirzapur would sit around, have a drink or two, and share a smile at that.