Brains, brawn, blood, blood ties, 3 weddings and many funerals
Saumya Sharma -
What is the story about?
Akhandanand Tripathi better known as Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) is Mirzapur's crime lord with ample political influence. Kaleen Bhaiya’s business goes beyond the manufacture and sale of kaleen (carpets), extending unto illegal gun manufacture and supply, as well as the opium business. Kaleen Bhaiya is guided by former crime lord and his father Satyanand Tripathi (Kulbushan Kharbanda), supported by his wife Veena (Rasika Duggal) and his right-hand man, Maqbool. His son Munna Bhaiya (Divyendu), a power-hungry goon in his college, is a source of disappointment to Kaleen Bhaiya but as they say, blood is thicker than water, the entire business is for Munna to take over one day.
Enter simpleton brother-duo Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal) and Bablu Pandit (Vikrant Massey), who attend the same college as Munna and like the rest of the town, respect him out of fear. This is all until the day the tables turn in a way to unveil the other side of the brothers, who in the process of protecting their family members, get embroiled in Mirzapur's Gangster Squad. Surprisingly, the 'brain and brawn' duo become Kaleen Bhaiya's right-hand men and help him expand his various businesses, in the process also becoming a pain point for Munna.
Munna's longtime love interest Sweety Gupta (Shriya Pilgaonkar) who in turn only has eyes for Guddu, becomes the source of yet another bone of contention between the two men and eventually leads to the death of one member of this love triangle in the season finale.
Lending further pain to this ordeal that Munna feels he is caught in is Sweety's younger sister Golu aka Gajagamini Gupta (Shweta Tripathi) who wins the college presidential election against Munna, thus shattering his dream of owning the college and the town eventually.
Kaleen Bhaiya has built an empire his father nearly lost out to another goon that the family once knew closely. The years-long enmity presents itself on various occasions, with a throwback into how it all happened twenty years ago.
The show goes through its highs and lows and might also remind one of the blood and gore from Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), which, in many ways was the start point of revenge drama shows on films and OTT. However, just because it's an inspiration doesn't mean they're all perfect viewing experiences, some even bordering on boredom to excessive boredom.
Pankaj Tripathi in his titular role lends a nuanced approach to his role as the crime lord but is hardly ever seen losing his temper when dealing with the toughest situation at hand. Whether it's a comic role or one such as Kaleen Bhaiya, the actor maintains a benign countenance and keeps the viewer engaged in the moments he's living the character he's playing.
Divyendu, Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey are well-suited for the roles they're playing and one doesn't find them going over-the-top with their characters, even though some scenes could have tempted either actor to try something different. Vikrant Massey's Bablu is one you might find the most sensitive, yet sinister when needed because he's the mix of brains and supports his brawny older brother execute the 'assignments' they're on.
Rasika Duggal, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Sheeba Chadha, Shweta Tripathi and other women in the show have relatively less to do except being the support system of the men either running their businesses or opposing them.
Some of the other actors namely Kulbushan Kharbanda, Rajesh Tailang, Abhishek Banerjee, Amit Sial are strong and effective in their supporting roles, some you'll even find yourself rooting for throughout the nine-episode run of the season.
Music & Other Departments
The show's behind-the-camera team is also an ensemble of popular names from the film and OTT space and have done a fine job with the technical aspects of the show from the word go.
The show's title music is foot-tapping enough that you might not want to 'Skip Intro' throughout the show. There's also a romantic number one hears in a wedding scene that might tug at a romantic's heartstrings.
Save for the mid few episodes the show has been crisply written making the script a fine supporting actor for Mirzapur Season 1.
Sheeba Chadha's switch to thug life to protect her family in episode 1; Bablu and Golu's never-in-your-face love story; Pankaj Tripathi
Graphic violence which many might find difficult to stomach and wee-bit drag through some of the episodes that could have well been shortened or completed in an episode or so less.
Did I enjoy it?
Can't say I didn't but the fear of a Gangs of Wasseypur-esque treatment kept me well away from the show for the last two years.
Do I recommend it?
If you're a Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather), Quentin Tarantino, Ram Gopal Varma and Anurag Kashyap fan, then a definite yes. Godfather also became a source of inspiration for some of the aforementioned directors and then some.