Mirzapur 3 review: The series seems to have lost the plot, quite literally 

Neither Ali Fazal and Isha Talwar nor heightened gore can compensate for weak writing


To begin with, Mirzapur, the foul-mouth, trigger-happy series about dastardly baddies killing other dastardly baddies in lawless Pradesh, had a meagre plot. Neither the series’ story nor its characters were new when it first arrived in 2018. Yet it was thrilling, and sometimes even a riveting watch because some of its main characters had been given a dark, devious flaw, and were assigned to exceptionally talented actors. Over the course of two seasons, these actors turned their characters into fascinating, imitable archetypes. 

Ali Fazal’s Guddu Bhaiyya, Pankaj Tripathi’s Kaleen Tripathi, Divyendu Sharma’s Munna Tripathi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s Satyanand Tripathi, Rasika Dugal’s Beena Tripathi and Lilliput’s Dadda Tyagi could very well have their own spin-off shows. 

But in its third season, with two of these characters dead and one MIA, Mirzapur seems to have lost the plot, quite literally. 

Mirzapur Season 3 has 10 episodes, and if you track the story from the point where it begins and ends, it travels a short distance, takes a U-turn and returns to where all of it began, in 2018. So my guess is that either a dog ate the script that the show’s developer, Apurva Dhar Badgaiyan, had worked on, or he just asked ChatGPT: “Give me a 10-episode story of the series Mirzapur after Munna is dead, Kaleen Bhaiyya is missing and Guddu Bhaiyya wants to be the King of Mirzapur. Make sure that the action takes place in different towns and the story keeps drifting off into tangents. There should be lots of gratuitous violence, abusive language and four-five liberal nods at current politics. There should also be at least one scene where a woman is on top, and one scene of sexual perversion.” 

Whatever it was -- a dog, AI or the lack of imagination and writing talent -- the end result is that Mirzapur 3 is a rudderless enterprise that stutters and then dashes off in one direction, only to slow down till it sputters again and skids in another direction. 

Its story is weak, scenes are perfunctory, and the direction is quite mundane. It drags down even those scenes that could have been exciting. 

It's to the credit of its actors -- especially Ali Fazal and Isha Talwar -- as well as action director Manohar Varma, sound designer Vivek Sachidanand and John Stewart Eduri, who composed the title track, that they add some thrill and pep to an otherwise anemic show.

Mirzapur 3 begins with the same issue that concerned the show’s previous two seasons: Who will occupy the all-powerful Mirzapur's upholstered seat? But this time another chair is added to the plot — that of the chief minister which is  currently occupied by Madhuri Yadav (Isha Talwar).

A young, attractive widow whose party-supremo daddy is dead, her Cabinet doesn’t take her seriously and bristles at her plan to strike at the criminal-politician nexus in Pradesh. 

Guddu, meanwhile, with the help of Golu (Shweta Tripathi) and Beena Tripathi (Rasika Dugal), is plotting how he can sit on Mirzapur's seat. Though the said chair is in the mansion where Guddu is currently residing and he can sit on it night and day, to take control of the illegal businesses in his area he needs the approval and support of other strongmen of the state.

A meeting is called and, obviously, there is another contender — Sharad Shukla (Anjum Sharma) from Jaunpur, whose daddy dear was shot in the head by Guddu ji.

Many tangents spring from these two coveted-chair situations. One involves Ramakant Pandit (Rajesh Tailang), Guddu Bhaiyya’s honest, ethical lawyer-daddy, and the other concerns the leftover twin from the Bharat Tyagi-Shatrughan Tyagi (Vijay Varma) duo. Both of these involve the larger Pandit and Tyagi families cast a pall of dull domesticity over the series. Yet, a considerable amount of time is spent with them. Meanwhile, Sharad starts getting so close to CM Madhuri that they share joints, wine and get twinkly-eyed. 

Then  there are several mini tangents that include an assassination plot, a political coup involving a sexy Bhojpuri singer, and Guddu Bhaiyya snorting white powder off a steel plate. None of these amount to anything, much like one Mr Munnawar who keeps making hush-hush phone calls and acts all important.

On top of all this there's a light sprinkling of  political comment on MSP for farmers, large parks dedicated to the cult of one particular political leader, the sale and purchase of MLAs, jailed poets and freedom of speech.

In the series’ first four episodes we mostly just stare at Sharad’s pleasant but expressionless face. Sometimes we watch people play 'meeting-meeting' or pull out guns and shoot. Till episode 4, in fact, the series is a very good remedy for insomnia.

After episode 5, some tangents begin to coalesce and there are a few exciting twists. But just as the plot thickens and tension begins to rise, a Tyagi twin drags down the series with his listless revenge scheme that rests on an idiotic ruse. It seems, in a world where battalions of goons shoot each other dead in full public view, a mobile phone can’t be traced without the police's go-ahead. 

With the series’ most powerful character MIA, Mirzapur 3 is carried almost entirely by Ali Fazal and Isha Talwar’s performances.

Fazal’s simple-minded, emotional Guddu, who prefers killing to talking, is the show’s calling card. His badass swag, heedless shooting sprees and deranged outbursts add oomph to the show. But it's a scene set in a casino, where his particular brand of crazy is on slow-burn, that spotlights Fazal 's range and is more menacing than all the savage action. There should have been more such scenes to break the monotony of slash and shoot. 

Isha Talwar is gorgeous and a very fine actress who plays Madhuri Yadav with such poise, delicacy and nuance that she should cross over to Maharani on SonyLiv and give Huma Qureshi some tips on the power of silence and underplay.

Lilliput is fabulous, scary, and Sheeba Chaddha is warm, homely. 

Vijay Varma, Shweta Tewari and Pankaj Tripathi have some powerful scenes, but they seem out of form and without their mojo. 

The death toll in Mirzapur 3 is quite high. A lot of blood flows, many skulls are smashed to pulp, throats are slit, bodies are dismembered and eyes are often the target of rage. In some scenes the blood and gore is quite unbearable, and viewer discretion is strongly advised. 

These brutal but sharply choreographed scenes may be the best moments in the series. They try to compensate for the lack of a compelling story and human drama. But they can't, and at the end Mirzapur 3 leaves you with lukewarm feelings towards a lukewarm show.

Cast:  Ali Fazal, Isha Talwar, Shweta Tripathi, Vijay Varma, Anjum Sharma, Anil George,  Rajesh Tailang, Sheeba Chaddha, Manu Rishi, Anangsha Biswas, Meghna Malik,  Priyanshu Painyuli, Lilliput

Direction:  Gurmmeet Singh, Anand Iyer 
Rating:  2.5/5 
Streaming  on Amazon Prime

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