Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya. After watching a stage performance of Mirza-Sahibhan 35 years ago, Mirzya was born. I had the privilege of watching this film a week in advance. I have avoided all publicity about this film as I didn’t want to go in with any expectations. This is difficult in a way as this is a Rakesh Omprakash Mehra directed film. He is back since the incredibly successful Bhaag Milka Bhaag. I have sat with my thoughts of this film for four days. Normally I don’t. Normally reviews as far as they go are fairly straight forward. This one isn’t. Why? Well there are so many different elements to it and you just need a little bit of time to make your mind up about it.
Let us start with the much talked about music. Shankar Ehsaan and Loy do something different here and it suits Mirzya. The music weaves in perfectly throughout the film and actually helps to move the narrative along. There is no obvious song and dance like a typical Hindi film, the dance is reserved for the dancers and I can’t say much without giving away parts of the film and ruining the appreciation you would have when you see it for yourselves, however I will say that on screen, full justice is done to this musical treat in terms of presentation and choreography. It is different, but I like different, for everyone else, just don’t go in expecting your lead pair to burst into song and dance – as it won’t happen.
Gulzar. You expect perfection every time this name appears. You get perfection every time this name appears. Yes, it is a well known story, yes it is a story that has been told for eons but this has Gulzar written all over it. Only he could have managed writing something so poetic and this is present throughout the film in the dialogues. It is almost as though you are watching a poem unfold on screen.
Time and effort has been taken in the casting. Art Malik, Om Puri And KK Raina are fantastic. They are seasoned performers and this is very much evident in their performances. Controlled, stylised and very much in calling to the character that is being portrayed.
Anuj Choudhry as the understanding yet somewhat jealous and possessive lover is convincing. Previously seen in Angry Indian Goddesses, Choudhry has the tough task of portraying the betrayed lover who you understand and sympathise with in equal measures as well as hate. Could he have done more? Possibly, at times you feel as though something is lacking, but he pulls of the role of a modern day prince with great aplomb.
Anjali Patil proves that sometimes a lot of dialogue is not necessary to make your presence felt. As the daughter of the blacksmith her quiet love for Adil Mirza leaves a lasting mark, you can do nothing but understand her acceptance of circumstance and her quiet sacrifice.
And last but not least the industry newbies – beginning with the one film old Saiyami Kher. With a Telugu release already under her belt, Mirzya is Kher’s first Hindi language release, and it is quite evident why Mehra picked her in the role of Sahibaan. A character that in folklore was known for her beauty Kher is beautiful, her career as a model is evidence of this, though the character of Sahibaan needed a rare combination of innocence and spunk, which Saiyami manages to inject into the on screen character in droves.
Having to enact what is essentially the dual role of Sahibaan, one as a folklore the other set in contemporary times and ensuring that each role is clearly defined but at its core remains the same is a tough job and Saiyami seems to do this well. To undertake the complexities of one character is difficult but to translate this twice over is an achievement. The ease with which this is done shows the acting pedigree she hails from. She has the ability to hold her own in a scene, understands the difference between being a focal point in the scene and being in the background and does both with ease. Her biggest asset, she emotes well. She can if given the opportunity speak volumes without saying a single word. I look forward to her work in the future.
Harshvardhan Kapoor. The pressure on this young actor at the moment must be immense. A well known father, a well known sister – things are automatically expected from you. Does he meet expectations? Yes and No. There are scenes in the film where Kapoor is outstanding, the hitchki scene, and the revelation scene to name a couple. But there are also scenes where he reminds me of Ranveer Singh and by this I mean I actually thought it was Ranveer Singh in the scene other than Kapoor. Now you can take this either as a good thing or a bad thing. He has also managed the dual character performances with finesse, something that a lot of seasoned actors have struggled with, so as a newcomer I applaud his effort here in differentiating between the two roles; like Kher he has done a stellar job. There is room to grow here and that can only be a good thing as that means that you will only get better even though you have made a good start. He is one to watch out for in the future
Mr. Mehra’s direction as expected has two stories running in parallel – a la Rang de Basanti. And if you remember Rang De Basanti you will remember that there was a lot of jumping between the two stories in the past and present. You will encounter something similar here, only it is not as clearly defined as Rang de was, this at times leaves you momentarily confused while you catch up on whose story you are now following. When the film flows, it flows beautifully between scenes, when it jumps.. it really does jump.
Mehra has taken his time with this film. It is evident that this is a labour love. Thought has been put in the locations and a clear directive has been given in regards to characters. There are scenes that show what a skilled director he is, with scenes being handled gently and in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Mehra is a storyteller, this is evident in his previous films and it is present in Mirzya with his version of Mirza Sahibaan for the new generation. What we need to remember is that this is his vision of the story and no vision can be wrong, yes it doesn’t have to match everyone’s vision, but has to be appreciated on some level. Yes there are flaws… there is no such thing as a flawless film (if there is one please point me in its direction) it is a question of whether these flaws can be overlooked. There are certain aspects in this film that I am struggling with (I have never seen such glamorous looking blacksmiths) but I appreciate the simple fact that Mehra has pushed boundaries in terms of cinematography and ideas. It is difficult to take something old and essentially repackage it for the new generation, and this is what Mirzya is.
As I was leaving the screening I overheard a conversation where someone just stated that they didn’t know what drugs the director was on when he made it. I don’t agree. It is a difficult concept to grasp initially, and yes I did walk out of the film with a headache, but the first attempt at something new is always under appreciated. Mehra has taken a subject that has been presented to us before in its various forms and given us something new.
Essentially Mirzya is a film about love, in all its various forms, Your first love that you never forget, a love between friends, a love between child and parent, unrequited love. With a tag line like “Dare to love” , you expect romance, love, high voltage chemistry which is all delivered. What you don’t expect is the constant jumping between the two stories and this takes some getting used to. A valiant effort- 3 out of 5 purely for the appreciation of this vision.