'Hum toh NPA ho gaye hain - Non performing asset', grumbles Pankaj Tripathi when scorned by his wife (Rasika Dugal) who is 'just not in mood' that night.
These are the moments that remind one again of the brilliance of Pankaj Tripathi that had dominated the first season of Mirzapur that had stormed the OTT medium back in 2018. The man is in very good form all over again in the second season as well, the first couple of episodes of which were made exclusively available to this writer. Whether it is sarcastically asking his wayward son [Divyendu Sharma] whether he has any business plan in mind to him admonishing a senior politician in his own bungalow to go quiet or dealing with the cops, he is up there.
It's just that this time around, the series seems to be built on isolated moments rather than a seamlessly exciting narrative, something that was the hallmark of the first season. The screen lights up each time when Divyendu is there. He is a villain, of course, but then there is such childlike enthusiasm in him, coupled with inherent humor that he brings in most crass of the situations, that you can't help but actually wait for him to keep coming back. Watch out for the way in which he gears up to re-establish his business empire and you would know.
In the first season, it was the battle that was fought between the heirs of all things illegal, Divyendu Sharma, and the 'bhai bhai jodi' of commoners Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey. With a neat six minute long recap of the first season that kick-starts the second season, you are reintroduced to the battle that ensued, something that resulted in the death of Vikrant Massey and Ali's wife Shriya Pilgaonkar. The story moves ahead with Ali Fazal, his sister [Harshita Gaur] and Shriya's sister [Shweta Tripathi] on the run.
Surprisingly, it is this very 'run' that actually 'slows' down the proceedings, and that too in a painful manner. With a really dark feel to it (visually as well as literally), the scenes are really long drawn and also borderline depressing. Apart from the clichéd scenes of 'doctor-save-his-life-else-you-would-be-killed', there are also unexciting pieces of conversations that make one wonder when the real drama begins. Expletives flow quite freely as well (and at many places, rather needlessly) and you wait for the drama to shift to Pankaj Tripathi and Divyendu.
Thankfully, there is a new angle introduced by makers [Puneet Krishna and Gurmmeet Singh] which promise a lot of excitement ahead in eight episodes that would follow. In the first season, there was just a glimpse of a rival gang in motion at Jaunpur. This time around the set up is promising a full throttle battle ahead as the next generation has arrived on the scene, the ones who want to play it with brains instead of bullets, and hence draw up a deep rooted plan. Entry of Vijay Verma on the scene, albeit briefly, further makes it all promising.
One truly hopes though that soon enough there is good character development for Ali Fazal as well because he was truly the 'jaan' of the show. In the first season, his character was pretty much inspired from Sanjay Dutt in Mahesh Bhatt's Naam, what with even the dialogue of 'crime is a one way street' being mouthed. Here, he unfortunately goes through a severely clichéd scene featuring his parents (Sheeba Chaddha really hamming it out with Rajesh Tailang just being a little behind). For the sake of the audiences, hope that was just an aberration.
After all, there isn't much of fun to see the family patriarch [Kulbhushan Kharbanda] continuing to solicit his daughter-in-law [Rasika Dugal] at very given moment. While that has lived its life in the first season, what would be interesting to watch is the plan ahead with the honest cop [Amit Sial] confessing (after witnessing a bloody shootout) that he is now worried only about his family.
So what if that means picking up a bribe up to 10 lakhs from 'Kaaleen bhaiyaa' despite not being offered to eat from the same plate as the Tripathi family. It's the money that counts after all, and this time around the battle lines are drawn between Mirzapur and Jaunpur territories.(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic. Views are personal)