First it was Pierce Brosnan promoting Pan Bahar and then Gulzar being associated with Mirzya. How bad could it become for the world of movies?
My wife and I went to watch Mirzya because someone on my wife’s Twitter timeline had raved about the movie (great, Hollywood style visualisation, etc.) and also knowing that Gulzar has written the screenplay and lyrics of the movie. If nothing else, at least we would experience some artistic richness that Gulzar brings to his every creation.
It was an out and out shocker. The Gulzar-touch is not just missing in the movie, even a David-Dhavan- Govinda-Chunky-Pandey flick would have been a better choice for a Saturday evening.
In case you don’t know the concept behind the title and the theme of the movie, Mirzya is based on a legendary folklore from Punjab, Mirza Sehba. As it happens with all love stories of the yore, it’s a tragic story. What makes this story more tragic is, Sehba becomes the cause of Mirza’s slaughter at the hands of her brothers and in repentance she kills herself. Mirza couldn’t be defeated in archery and when they eloped and when Sehba’s brothers pursued them, she knew that Mirza, in case there was a fight, would kill all her brothers. She broke all his arrows when he was sleeping (another version is, she cut the string of his bow) thinking that her brothers wouldn’t kill an unarmed man, and hence, no one would die. Of course they killed him. The original story is written in the form of a poem and it is often sung in front of the crowd by folk singers.
The Mirzya movie begins with a death match going on between ferocious-looking archers riding their horses and taking aims at flying objects that explode when arrows hit them. They do all this while large balls of fire fall on them. One of the archers, sporting a manbun, is Mirza (you know this only if you know the story) and the girl standing with the hostile-looking spectators (her father and her brothers) is looking at his antics with great awe (she should be Sehba, if you know the story).
Now you have to assume that she is in awe and love because no particular expression comes on her face. The same sort of expressionlessness is reciprocated by the object of her admiration whose face remains unchanged even in the throes of death. These people don’t look Indian. They look like characters from Game of Thrones — maybe the makers of the film watch too much of it. Or they think that Indian-looking people don’t do the sort of stuff these characters are doing in the movie.
Then you are suddenly transported to the present times. You are entertained by exotic-looking ironsmith dancers with flat bellies and muscled limbs while Daler Mehandi tries to reach the stratosphere with his notes, wailing through his nose as if someone is strangulating him and he would like to complete the song before he runs out of breath. If you can ignore the annoying song, the dance, for a few seconds, is actually good and it seems like a quality-production.
Then the scene changes to a Rajasthani household where you see two school kids who are very attached to each other. The school teacher punishes the girl, whose father is a cop, and the boy kills the schoolteacher after stealing a gun from the girl’s father’s house. Then suddenly Om Puri turns into narrator of the story with his “hota hai, hota hai”, bizarrely justifying the murder of the schoolteacher by the small boy.
The boy is sent to the reform house and the girl goes abroad, only to return as a beautiful young girl about to be married to a Rajasthani prince. The small boy in the meantime escapes from the reform house and is given refuge by an ironsmith (the nowadays infamous Om Puri).
While you’re reading this, you may feel as if the story is moving in a flow. It is not. You are repeatedly shown those Greekish, Romanish tribespeople going through various, cinematographically enhanced experiences so that you don’t forget that there is a parallel between both the stories and whatever is happening in those ancient times, is also about to happen in the present-day story.
The entire story is a hodgepodge of scenes created randomly and then joined together using a film-editing software. The makers of the movie are more interested in creating good-looking scenes than telling a story. Superfluity is apparent everywhere. Most of the actors in the film can’t act even to save their lives, including the main protagonists. Both the actors are so bad they can’t even act in ads, forget about a complete film. The huge-bellied Om Puri has been dumped on the movie without any reason or rhyme just as the name of Gulzar has been dumped upon it.
It’s as if, expensive tools and equipment had been given to a bunch of untalented schoolkids only because such expensive tools and equipment are easily available to them. There is no interest. There is no passion. Even when the protagonists are looking in the eyes of death, their expressions are such that they might as well be sitting in a bar, totally clueless about what to talk about. If you want to show someone how to make a completely dull movie out of a classic legend, you can show him or her Mirzya.
The tragic part of the whole thing is, Gulzar is supposed to have written the screenplay, I mean, really? Is this what he could come up with? It’s a scam. You can get a few glimpses of him in a few words of the song Daler Mehandi is trying to butcher throughout the movie but unless you yourself see the credits of the movie and see his name, you can never believe that this script has been written by Gulzar, if you know what Gulzar is capable of.
If you want to see some beautiful faces that are slightly more evolved than mannequins or if you want to experience some exotic visualisation, then of course, go ahead and watch the movie, but if you are looking for some decent movie-watching experience, then it’s a total bummer.