History Repeats Itself in this Gangster Franchise

Directors: Gurmmeet Singh, Anand Iyer
Writers: Apurva Dhar Badgaiyan, Avinash Singh Tomar, Avinash Singh, Vijay Verma

Cast: Ali Fazal, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Pankaj Tripathi, Rasika Dugal, Isha Talwar, Anjumm Sharma, Vijay Varma, Priyanshu Painyuli, Rajesh Tailang

Episodes: 10

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

You’ve heard of filler episodes. You know, the kind where there’s no narrative motion, no real character development, a lot of flavour, a few conversations, and a whole bunch of things happening without any consequences. Some of these episodes serve as connective tissues between the more dramatic beats. But some just allow the viewers to spend time with the world. I like filler episodes, because life itself is composed of such moments. The long-awaited Mirzapur 3, though, is a filler season. So much happens across 10 episodes that nothing actually happens. The show unfolds like an extensive post-credits sequence. The characters – no major new entrants – don’t move the needle too much: Munna Tripathi is still dead, fallen ‘King of Mirzapur’ Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) is still recovering, new king Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal) is still struggling to contain his bloodlust, the women still quietly pull the strings, and a political game of thrones is still being played. 

A Crowded House

The tempo is deliberate. Early on, Golu (Shweta Tripathi Sharma), the brains of the new leadership, restrains brawny partner Guddu with a key piece of advice: “This is the time for consolidation, not violence.” Season 3 takes her words to heart, consolidating the innings after two seasons of rabid powerplay. In terms of what Mirzapur represents, this is not a bad thing. There are several parallel threads: The rise of Jaunpur heir Sharad Shukla (Anjumm Sharma); an alliance between him and bereaved Chief Minister Madhuri Yadav (Isha Talwar) against Guddu; an alliance between Sharad and an ailing Kaleen Bhaiya; the tension between Guddu and other crime bosses for the Purvanchal seat; the prison stint and courtroom drama of Guddu’s father Ramakant Pandit (Rajesh Tailang); Shatrughan Tyagi (Vijay Varma) secretly leading the life of his dead older twin Sharad; a ‘widowed’ Beena Tripathi’s (Rasika Dugal) cunning; orphan Robin’s (Priyanshu Painyuli) integration into Guddu’s broken family; a queer Muslim poet becoming a crowd favourite in jail. I’m sure I’m missing some tracks. There’s the usual wheeling and dealing, killing and kidnapping, sex and gore. 

But the broader idea is that regardless of how crowded the series gets – that no matter how much it tries to expand its lawless universe – there’s no escaping the original feud and cycle of violence. Eventually, Mirzapur itself is the protagonist: The classic underdog looking for a way back. The series keeps darting to different corners of Uttar Pradesh, even reaching Nepal, almost in defiance of the native template. It acts like it’s moved on from primary characters like Kaleen Bhaiya and Guddu and Golu, only to be yanked back ‘home’ in the end. In a way, it’s moving to see the old gang fight for relevance in an environment that threatens to swallow their screen-time. They struggle to control the series, and that’s part of the trick. The battle for the narrative throne echoes the battle for the regional throne.  

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