There is a word that is unique to the Indian vocabulary when it comes to describing an activity that is neither particularly great nor too bad -- timepass. That is perhaps the best way one can describe watching Mirzapur 2, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It is entertaining in parts, has some great performances from its lead players, and has definitely been produced on a more generous budget than the previous season. However, ultimately, the second season is simply 10 more episodes of abundant violence, sexual innuendo, toxic masculinity, father-son wars and power struggles.
The proceedings begin a couple of weeks after the blood-soaked finale of Season 1, where the troubled heir Munna Tripathi (Divyenndu) killed Bablu (Vikrant Massey) as per the plan, and Sweety (Shriya Pilgaonkar) becomes collateral damage. Guddu (Ali Fazal) was also to be a victim of the plan, but in the shootout that follows, a severely injured Guddu manages to escape with Sweetyâs siter Golu (Shweta Tripathi Sharma), and his younger sister Dimpy (Harshita Shekhar Gaur).
Season 2 starts with an almost six-minute-long recap and briskly establishes where all its main characters are, and also introduces some of the new players. Munna wakes up in a hospital bed at home, much to the relief of his father Kaleen Bhaiyya aka Akhandanand Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi) and grandfather Bauji (Kulbhushan Kharbanda). Meanwhile, Beena (Rasika Dugal) is traumatised after being forced to castrate a male servant she was having an affair with, and have sex with her father-in-law who disguises rape as blackmail.
Mirzapur 2, produced by Excel Entertainment, was created by Puneet Krishna and co-written with Vineet Krishna. The series has been directed by Gurmmeet Singh and Mihir Desai. This season, the powerful Tripathis are surrounded by people baying for their blood. Multiple quests for revenge journey together like train tracks, its players meeting at crucial junctures to create turning points in the tale.
Beena wants to get even with Bauji for trying to sexually harass her, while Guddu and Golu want to avenge the deaths of Sweety and Bablu and snatch the âthroneâ of Mirzapur from the Tripathis. Joining them is Sharad Shukla (Anjum Sharma), the suave but vengeful son of Akhandanandâs old rival Ratishankar Shukla. Ratishankar was gunned down in season 1 by Guddu. Adding further chaos to the mix is the Tyagi family of Bihar: brothers Bharat and Shatrughan, along with their feared father Dadda (Lilliput Faruqui). They become involved in the story after Shatrughan (Vijay Varma) starts selling opium with Golu against Daddaâs orders.
While revenge drives the story forward, ideological clashes, sons trying to escape their fathersâ shadow, and a longing for self-worth are themes that resonate strongly in this season. While last season saw a lot of machismo and bluster, this season, many of the central characters are allowed deeper moments of introspection, guilt, regret and glimpses of positivity. In a huge positive, the women in the story, mainly Beena and Golu, have been given more screen time and significance this season. But unfortunately, the makers lose out on exploring the difference between men and women in approaching and executing revenge. Golu turns to good old honey trapping or shooting, and Beena continues to expertly manipulate the egotistical men in her home. They both have plenty of rage and courage, but really, no unique tricks up their sleeve. Plenty of time is spent over the politics of who will become the next Chief Minister of the state.
But strangely, the moment a woman assumes the post, the show suddenly loses all interest in the impact this will have on a male-dominated power dynamic, especially one that includes her immediate family members. Season 2 doesnât disappoint its loyal fans and amps up the brutality of the scenes by using scissors, hairdryers and even a sugarcane juicing machine to kill and maim. This is, of course, in addition to good old guns, cleavers and pocket knives which faithfully make an appearance every few minutes. Also making an appearance every few minutes are the profanities which also seem to have been liberally slathered on by the makers.
Sadly, and rather disturbingly, this time characters even discuss the plausibility of their threats on raping a mother or sister. For example, Guddu tells Robin (Priyanshu Painyuli) that he would f--- his mother if he tried to make a pass on his sister, to which Robin says that sleeping with his mother is not possible since she is dead. On another occasion, when Munna and Sharad meet Bharat for the first time and an argument ensues, Bharat responds by telling Munna that if his father were here, he would âf--- his motherâ. To this, Munna replies that even to forcefully sleep with his mother, Dadda would need a ladder since he is a dwarf. It is supposed to be dark, crass humour amongst feudalistic men. But this incessant use of abuses that refer to violence against women is extremely unfortunate, to say the least.
The episodes, which start off at a brisk pace, slow down mid-way through the season. Yet this enviable ensemble of actors, who are undoubtedly some of the best in the business today, strive hard to stay invested and keep the proceedings going. Pankaj Tripathi is excellent for the most part, but the quiet menace that he brought to the show last season seems diminished. Though this may be by design, to show that his character has mellowed, it ends up making him look uninterested at some crucial junctures. Vijay, Divyenddu, Rasika and Shweta are all expectedly great in their respective roles, but I personally enjoyed Aliâs performance the most. From being the brawn to his brotherâs brain last season, Ali transforms Guddu into a man who is now using both his muscles and his mind.
Watch Mirzapur 2 if you were a huge fan of season 1, or just want to watch something mildly entertaining over the long weekend. If you are not already a fan of the show, you will not get anything that looks or feels very different from season 1.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.