Is it a bird or is it a plane? Is Mirzya a film or music video? And when will our filmmakers move over their fascination with slo-mo shots? Beejoy Nambiar did it enough for us to endure it in Shaitaan, which should have made this technique a cliché by now. Need we wait for every filmmaker to throw their slo-mo versions to us with their films? In Mirzya, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra employs this technique for the entire narration of Mirza-Sahiban sequence.
Imagine watching a love story in slow motion all through the film, making you wonder why these guys don’t utter a single word. Artistic expression, did you say? So what explains a film on Mirza Sahiban which tells you nothing about Mirza Sahiban? You brave through those tacky social message ads and wade through equally bad ad films only to know a love story which has never been told before, except for two old films by the same name Mirza Sahiban and a couple of Punjabi and Pakistani films inspired by it.
The film, Mirzya by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra narrates this folklore through two linear narratives, one set in our times while the other is set either in the past or maybe future or maybe some other planet. The present version is as flawed as the past version. To begin with, Mirza-Sahiban is a Punjabi folklore and this film is set in Rajasthan. In the world of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the ironsmiths are a clan who perform sensuous dance when the sun sets and make paintings of Mirza-Sahiban, a Punjabi couple instead of narrating their folklores like Jethwa-Ujali or Maharana Pratap and Ajabde.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya keeps oscillating between past and present, yet the screenplay by Gulzar (He wrote a screenplay after a hiatus of 17 years) is a complete let-down, as it leads to nowhere. Despite the parallels being drawn between the present and past versions, the actual story of Mirza-Sahiban remains untold. As an audience, one would have expected to know about Mirza and Sahiban as characters, instead of an obscure slo-mo technique ruling the roost.
Actor Harshwardhan Kapoor, in his debut is as raw as Tushar Kapoor in his latest film. The actor does have the much-needed intensity in his eyes for a character of such caliber, but when it comes to dialogue delivery, he fails miserably. The actress, Saiyami Kher tries too hard emulating Deepika Padukone and needs to be reminded that she’s idolizing the wrong actress. Character actors like Art Malik add insult to the injury, and proves that the only person to be blamed for this film’s failure is its casting director. Well not really, because Anjali Patil is quite a find. She is surely here to stay and one sincerely hopes some filmmaker gives this actress the role she deserves and definitely not of a sensuous ironsmith.
Now those who, like yours truly, have survived this disaster of a film, might want to know about the actual story of Mirza-Sahiban: Mirza, from the Kharal Jat clan of Dhanbad, and Sahiban, from the Sial family of the Jhang district, study together as children and fall in love as they grow older. Sahiban’s marriage was arranged with someone and when she eloped, her family and to-be groom followed them. The couple rested under a Banyan tree and Sahiban, fearing that Mirza would kill her father, brother and to-be groom, broke all the arrows of Mirza. She hoped that doing this might prevent violence, which obviously didn’t and Mirza was eventually killed by her family and she ended up killing herself.
The story of Mirza Sahiban isn’t revered as Sohni-Mahiwal or Heer-Raanjha. The reason varies from different versions, right from Mirza being the cousin of Sahiban to the couple making love under the tree and hence tarnishing the ‘sanctity’ of folk love stories. The graves of Mirza-Sahiban are located at Dhanbad and are never visited by any lovers, nor is the place of their death upheld as a place of any significance. Furthermore, even the films made on Mirza-Sahiban, both in India as well as Pakistan have miserably failed to create an impact on the box office. Mirzya is no exception.
The only good thing about Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is the songs, especially Mirzya, Hichki, Ek Nadi thi and of course the visual treat by Polish cinematographer Paweł Dyllus. But then they could have made a music video. Why Mirzyaaawwn?