Mirzya is based on one of the popular tragic romantic folklore of Punjab. The story is that of Mirza and Sahiban who fell in love and were doomed owing to their cultural differences. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra tells a tale very similar in style to his smash hit, Rang De Basanti where he showed us the stories of Indian revolutionaries in the yester years and the emancipation of the young generation in the image of the revolutionaries as they face similar situations of torture and wrongdoing. In Mirzya too Mehra runs two stories parallel to each other. While the tale of Mirza and Sahiban unfolds in bits and pieces, a tale exactly similar in nature unfolds in present day Rajasthan.
Mohnish (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Suchitra (Saiyami Kher) are childhood friends in Jodhpur growing up together. Suchitra’s father played by Art is a Shakespeare chanting high-ranking police officer while Mohnish is from a humble background. Mohnish is madly in love with Suchitra and in an unthinkable incident ends up murdering a teacher who rebuked Suchitra. He is sent to a children remand home but he escapes from there ending up in the colony of blacksmiths where he is eventually brought up & gets a new identity of that of Adil. Suchitra is sent away to study as she finds it difficult to bring her life back on track after the incident and Mohnish’s sudden departure. Years later both meet again but under very different circumstances. Suchitra, who seem to have forgotten it all, is about to get married to a prince Karan (Anuj Choudhry) while Mohnish now known as Adil is a mere stable boy at the prince’s stud farm. He is given the task to train Suchitra to ride.
The story of the film doesn’t have a lot of meat. We known exactly which way the narrative is headed and anyone who has heard or read about the Mirza-Sahiban tale knows exactly what to expect. The performances are consistent. Both the leading actors do much well than what I was expecting. Harshvardhan Kapoor may not be a natural like his father, who came to attention from his very first film, but it is abundantly clear that he could be polished into a brooding leading man. He has the calm demeanor that the heroes of today lack. He holds his own in the dramatic sequences of which there are many and looks apt in the elaborate action sequences. Saiyami Kher is good too. Even though she is pipped by Kapoor in the dramatic sequences. Her essay remains consistent and expressions lucid. I have to admit that I liked her Sahiban act more than her portrayal of Suchitra. She doesn’t have a single dialog in that part and yet beautifully conveys her feelings through her expression. She does look stunning in that darkish red dress with elaborate makeup and highlighted eye lines.
Where Mirzya scores greatly is in its visual splendor and poetry. The film has some of the most stunning visuals that we have seen in an Indian film this year. Be it the battle Sahiban through the snowy locales or the elaborate courtyards of the Rajwadas, the visuals consistently thrill you. I loved the initial fight which by my interpretation is a la-Swayamvar. The visual effects in these sequences are stunning. Following this, the little portion involving the kid Mohnish and Suchitra is beautifully filmed. As they mature and meet each other once again, the mood and style of the visuals change. The cinematography is so to the point that you can’t help but marvel at it. The editing too is refreshing. I was expecting a 3 hour long epic from Mehra but Mirzya is just about 2 hours 10 minutes. That really helps sustain the interest in the film.
No review of this film can be complete without a mention of the music and the songs. The soundtrack is composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. There are 15 tracks in the album, including 6 short songs on the character of Mirzya, composed by Daler Mehndi. If you watch the film without the dialogs, it will still hold pretty good as the songs work as threads to interweave the two timelines and the inner lying feeling of the characters and the tale. The only problem with the songs is that it will only be comprehensible to those who understand the language. Use of subtitles in this regard will rob the film completely of its charm. I don’t say this often, but I feel that the songs in this film are an absolute necessity. They are well done and actually help forward the story from one point to another. That fact that they are sung so well only makes them that much more appealing.
Having said all that, does it mean that Mirzya is the best romantic/musical of Indian cinema ever made? Absolutely not. The film has some issues which I would like to point out here.
The performances, though worthy, fall short at many junctures.
You don’t actually fall in love with the principal characters; especially that of Suchitra.
Her inspirations are muddled and the manner in which she elopes with Mohnish raises a lot of question considering the fact that this segment is based in contemporary times and she looked a lot in love with Karan.
If she was so madly in love with Mohnish then why did she get into a relationship that went all the way to marriage?
The character of Zeenat is atrocious. She is poorly written and envisioned. They had to take that queue from the original tale but it just didn’t make sense in this time. The fact that she commits suicide is even more unbelivable. Why would she do that when she had a child to live for?
The characters of the Suchitra’s father and Karan’s father are extremely weak.
The tale gets tedious if you don’t enjoy the many song and the enchanting visuals associated with it.
There is no froth in this romance and it is overtly serious. Hence it will only appeal to niche audience.
Mirzya has visual poetry, music and flamboyance on its side. It is much shorter and may be just short enough to not lose your attention. But the shortcomings mentioned above make it fall short of it’s mark. It uses a formula that worked well in Rang De Basanti but here the tale doesn’t have that kind of meat to sustain the interest of the audiences. It’s still a very worthy one time watch. If you are to watch a film this week, Mirzya should be your first choice.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)