Just How Unromantic Is ‘Mirzya’?
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher, Anuj Choudhry
There’s precisely one entertaining moment in this film and it’s in the credits. Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s eponymous production house, we’re shown in a graphic promo, is called ROMP Pictures. It’s a little hard to take anything that follows seriously. Not that one has to try very much as Mehra’s film, which is far from a romp, is a stultifying romance, a piece of storytelling as arid as the dunes of Rajasthan where much of it has been shot.
There’s not a dot of chemistry between Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher
Based on the Punjabi romantic epic Mirza-Sahiban, Mirzya has Munish/Adil (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Suchitra (Saiyami Kher) as childhood sweethearts separated at a young age. They’re reunited as adults. Suchitra returns home to get engaged to her boyfriend, a Rajasthani prince (Anuj Choudhry). Munish, now known as Adil to most, is the royal stablehand. While there’s a suggestion that Munish has been keeping track of Suchitra, she recognises him immediately notwithstanding the fact that she hasn’t laid eyes on the man in years. She confronts him in the stable and the two argue – she wants to restart their relationship, he tries to be practical and pushes her away – and tear at each other’s clothes. But what’s meant to be a scene steaming with pent-up longing is flat, without an iota of chemistry. There isn’t a more bloodless on-screen couple than debutante actors Kapoor and Kher.
Or much evidence of acting talent
There’s only a short passage of time from the day they meet to the inevitable moment Munish snatches her away from her fiancé on their wedding day. So there’s little sense of romance being rekindled. It doesn’t help that Kapoor has the look of a lost schoolboy throughout and Kher’s range is equally one-dimensional. When their passionless tale comes to a close after a chase by the prince and Suchitra’s father across sand dunes, you’re on the side of the assailants.
The film has a pointless element of fantasy
The film frequently segues into a fantastical landscape with Kapoor in a man-bun riding a horse through a stark, white landscape along with a band of men shooting clay pigeons and playing other medieval warrior-like games. Kher, dressed like a Dothraki princess, is some sort of prize. These diversions are ostensibly meant to provide an epic-like counterpoint to the story of Munish and Suchitra. They’re full of slow-mo sequences of the host of riders (all Caucasian for some reason save for Kapoor) shooting arrows in motion and close-ups of Kher’s face swinging the register between delight and fear with all the exaggeration of a kabuki dancer. But the fantastical side track adds little to the film aside from flattering footage of Ladakh, where these bits have been shot.
The film makes you nostalgic about MTV in the 1990s
In lieu of the couple singing and dancing, Mehra has inserted group romps with men and women in turbans and ghaghra-cholis. One particularly ecstatic number is a Rajasthani version of MTV’s The Grind, a show that, if possible, is less mind-numbing than Mirzya.
Mirzya was released in theatres on Friday, October 7.