Pankaj Tripathi on Mirzapur 2 craze: For the first time, my hoardings were put up in India
Pankaj Tripathi and Shweta Tripathi on the frenzy around Mirzapur 2, streaming on Amazon Prime Video
You would expect a grand intro shot for Pankaj Tripathi in Mirzapur Season 2. Instead, he's staring bluntly at the camera, frowning wearily. His expression hovers between bewilderment and confusion. Perhaps he's baffled at all that's been happening with the show.
Understandably so. Moments after the new season was launched on Amazon Prime Video, on October 22, the app crashed. A flurry of memes descended on Twitter even before people could finish the series. Even now, over a week since release, the hype is on (the show has been accused of abetting a real-world crime, while a scene is being altered for upsetting Hindi pulp writer, Surender Mohan Pathak).
For Pankaj, both the fanfare and the scrutiny have been a blessing. "People know me as Kaleen Bhaiya," he says. "That is what the show has done. It has made me popular. For the first time, my own hoardings were put up in India during Mirzapur Season 1. Before that, no cinema put up my hoardings..."
Inside the show, though, the mood is less jubilant. With the ground shrinking beneath his feet, Kaleen Bhaiya is moved to desperate measures: restoring his grip on Mirzapur while fighting off the threat of Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal). Even more than last season, Pankaj endows the character with a grim stillness, an icy 'thahrav' that has become his signature. "Kaleen is intoxicated by the power he commands," Pankaj explains. "If fear can be induced without involving a physical action sequence then why indulge in it."
That's not an approach shared by Shweta Tripathi, who returns as a guns-blazing Golu Gupta in Season 2. Teaming up with Guddu, she seeks to avenge herself on Munna (Divyendu Tripathi). Along the way, she meets a slimy agent (Priyanshu Painyuli) and twin gangsters, Bharat and Shatrughan Tyagi (Vijay Varma).
"Golu as a character was happy with her studies, her books and her 'allu patties'," Shweta says. "However, because of how Season 1 ends, everything changed. She was made to challenge her own beliefs and that is because the two people she loved the most were taken away from her."
For the action scenes, Shweta refused body doubles to retain authenticity. The guns, she says, were just as real. "I prepped with stunt director Manohar Varma for 10 days at his training arcade near film city. Ali was a big support and he would tell me if something wasn't flowing naturally and we would work on it."
Shweta feels the female characters have emerged more strongly in Season 2. "The world (of Mirzapur) is such that the males are more dominant. However, I'm really enjoying the growth of women in terms of how, instead of blindly attacking, you're getting inside someone's head and making them do what you want. With women you see more layers and in Season, 2 lots of things have changed."