Updated: October 9, 2016 11:40:15 am
Mirzya movie cast: Harshavardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher, Anuj Choudhry, Art Malik, Anjali Patil, KK Raina, Om Puri
Mirzya movie director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Mirzya has everything that’s required for a musical romance based on a popular Punjabi folktale: a pair of fresh faces (Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher) with great Bollywood genes, a strong supporting cast, and lilting music.
Outside Punjab, the story of Mirza-Sahiba may not be as well-known as the other folktales about star-crossed young love such as Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal, but it has an equally strong core of emotion. And there’s no one better than Gulzar to be able to translate the story into a film, keeping the feelings and idiom intact. A touch of ‘Romeo-Juliet’ is stirred in to emphasise just how hard the lovers have to fight, and just how much our hearts have to go out to them.
But right from the get-go, Mirzya tells us it’s going to be more about setting the scene, as it cross-cuts in time — some sequences are as spectacular as anything we’ve seen recently — than giving us characters that will instantly grab us, and keep us with them. This problem plagues this lush, good-looking production right through, and makes it much less of a film than it could have been.
Transplanting the tale to Rajasthan allows for locations that can take your breath away, despite their overuse in Bollywood. Grand forts, picturesque hamlets, glittering deserts and undulating dunes, and `rajwadaas’ with all their grand costumes and liveried retainers: Mirzya is all eye candy.
There’s also something sweet and engaging about an initial segment which shows Suchi and Mohnish as childhood sweethearts very attached to each other, who part and meet again in very different circumstances.
The film starts to slide when we meet these two as young adults, Suchi (Saiyami Kher) as a curly-haired miss engaged to Prince Karan (Anuj Choudhry) who bumps into Adil-Mohnish (Harshvardhan Kapoor), and re-kindles old embers. But soon enough it gets stuck in silliness, and a line exchanged between the lovers becomes all too prescient: ‘tum aa rahi ho ya ja rahi ho’, asks he. The film, much too intent on creating prettiness, gives us no answers: Suchi and Adil-Mohnish come and go minus impact.
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And that’s down to the fact that the lovers do not set the screen on fire. Except for a stray scene, and that too towards the end, when these two look at each other, really look into each other’s eyes, and break out laughing, telling us that they are delighting in each other’s presence to the exclusion of all else, they are merely spouting lines.
Without that crucial element, where lovers create a tight world of their own and no one else is allowed, no romance works. In terms of acting potential, neither newcomer lifts off the screen, but Kapoor fares just a little better than his affectless leading lady: he appears to have a quiet spark which may surface after some more polishing. Flashback to his father Anil and his first film, you will instantly see the difference between an actor being groomed and an actor who is a complete natural, and who makes us look. Choudhry brings something to the table, as does the veteran Art Malik who is made to recite Shakespeare, but they get lost in the window-dressing. And neither K K Raina, hidden under designer glares, nor Om Puri in his muddy-grey garb, have much to do.
Mirzya disappoints. Coming from all the talent that’s gathered together for this, that’s even more dispiriting.
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