India is just not famous for Taj Mahal. It is also popular for its cinema, cricketers, cuisine and the list goes on. However, India is also notorious for its crime belts, which exist throughout the nation, even if in small pockets. From the coal mafia in Jharkhand to the sand mafia of UP and MP, each region has its own shady business.
One such town is Mirzapur, which was once notorious for its crime racket that operated under the garb of the famous carpet industry. Unfortunately, Excel Entertainment’s web series ‘Mirzapur’ is not an honest portrayal of those dark trades at all. It is rather an amateur attempt at making a mashup of ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘The Godfather’ in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, and failing badly at it.
Written and co-directed by Gurmmeet Singh and Karan Anshuman, who was nominated by the Emmy Awards for his web series ‘Inside Edge’, ‘Mirzapur’ is the tale of how two brothers join drugs cum illegal arms racket and themselves get consumed by the struggle for power. It is also the tale of how Akhandanand Tripathi aka Kaleen Bhaiya runs the entire business, even as he struggles with his own hot headed son Munna, who throws common sense and pragmatism to the winds.
To start with, Mirzapur is a classic tale of how ‘excess of anything is bad.’ Here, the excess comes in the form of the narrative, which is too violent, and so many people die, that even ‘Taken’ and ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ would feel heavenly. Honestly, one finds it hard to believe that this is a web series co-directed by a man, who has an Emmy nominated web series ‘Inside Edge’ to his credit.
Going by the way this web series has been executed, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that over enthusiasm of the brains behind this series led to ‘Mirzapur’s downfall. If it intended to be a serious drama, it didn’t do full justice to the genre. But if it was intended to be a black comedy, ‘Mirzapur’ was way too murky and violent for that genre. Even ‘Kingsman’ franchise had certain decency, despite the incessant gunfight throughout the two movies.
If shoddy execution ripped off the sheen from ‘Mirzapur’, clichéd Bollywood treatment to this web series only makes the matter worse. We’ve had enough with the stereotyping of upper caste people as born villains, with no signs of conscience at all.
Pankaj Tripathi is no doubt menacing as Akhandanand Tripathi, but the way his son Munna, and the two brothers Guddu and Bablu have been portrayed, it looks as if upper caste Sanatanis, especially Brahmins, are anything but good. Rajesh Tailang and Sheeba Chaddha were just okay in their roles.
Did Gurmmeet Singh and Karan Anshuman completely forget what happened to Mukkabaaz, which tried this same trick on a nastier scale? Also, if the crew was inspired from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, they copied it rather too badly. The erotic scenes, apart from the ones with cusswords weren’t spontaneous, or even remotely brilliant, but forced, and at some times repetitive. Actors like Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi etc. were completely wasted, while Rasika Duggal and Divyendu Sharma didn’t do much justice to their roles.
In a scene, where Munna threatens the Pandit household with a shotgun, his manners, as well as his dialogues, evoke frowns more than laughter. For the women in this web series, the lesser said the better. Ironically, this show is produced by Excel Entertainment, whose producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are self-proclaimed feminists. Need we say more?
Is there anything even good:-
If there is something good in this series, it is the performance of actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal and Shriya Pilgaonkar. Even though he was typecast as yet another evil Brahmin, Pankaj Tripathi at least played his part convincingly well. Known otherwise for the boy next door cables, Ali Fazal as the trigger happy Guddu does surprise many with his different shades of grey.
Among the actresses, only Shriya Pilgaonkar attempted to portray her character of Sweety Gupta, a no nonsense college student with earnest efforts.
Overall, ‘Mirzapur’ is a poor man’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, which had the potential of going places, had someone with a better approach taken the reins of this web series. Sadly, it turns out to be yet another disappointment like ‘Ghoul’. I’d go for 2 out of 5 stars.