Mirzapur season 2 treads familiar paths of revenge but also expands its landscape, giving its characters new alliances, new enemies and new romances. An introvert picks up a gun, a housewife ensures her safety by manipulating the men around her and a good cop decides to try the bad cop routine for a while. With so much to work with, the cast picks out the scenes they think they did their best acting work in:
There's a scene in which I'm sitting on the bed and explaining to Golu (Shweta Tripathi) that I keep Bablu (Vikrant Massey) and Sweety (Shriya Pilgaonkar) in my heart. She has to read Bablu's diary, but I carry the two of them with me, and when the time comes, I will be ready to take over Mirzapur. It's a subtle and isolated scene. Performance wise, it was hard for me. And I think it's my best work because the scene works within the environment that it needed to work in.
I think the acting choices that I made in the last scene, when I'm killing Munna, were different only because I thought all the other possibilities were just obvious. I wouldn't say it's my best scene, but it's very close to Shweta and I and it's just a moving scene.
This was my first kill as an actor. When I was supposed to stab the policeman with the shard of glass, they told me they were going to do the close-up first, and the wide shot later, after the blood had sprayed everywhere. There were three paper cups in front of me filled with fake blood, and the fake flesh was made of pieces of mashed apple and banana. So I was supposed to stab the paper cups and get the blood on my face. (Director) Gurmmeet (Singh) kept saying, 'Feel it more! Go for it! Let it all out!' So I was doing all this, while crying, but the moment that actually brought out the emotion in me was funny. A bit of mashed banana went into my eye. That was so frustrating. I channelled that emotion of eeughhh I don't want a banana in my eye into stabbing him. That cry I let out didn't come from it being my first kill, it came from there being a banana in my eye.
As an actor, you're never satisfied but there are some scenes that turn out well and that the audience likes. In season 2 particularly, there's the first time I appear onscreen and you see me typing. I'm filing an application to retrieve the bodies of Bablu and Sweety from the morgue but I think that aspect got cut so you don't see it. Ramakant and his wife have lost three of their family members during the massacre of season 1. They've lost their son, daughter-in-law and the baby that was yet to be born. And they haven't been able to cry yet. So that moment becomes a trigger for them and they start crying. As an actor, it's always challenging to do a scene in which you don't get to say much. And this time I had my back to the camera too. Ramakant winds up throwing the typewriter on the floor because, while the other characters are dealing with their grief, he's also dealing with guilt. He believes in his principles but he also wonders whether they're responsible for what happened. He and his wife haven't held each other and cried yet, so when they do, it's a really beautiful moment of catharsis. Their grief becomes shared.
One scene that's really close to me is the one in which I try to kill that raddiwala. While shooting, I had a knee injury. So I was physically not in the best possible state. And on that day, particularly, I got really, really sick. My call time was at 6:30 am. I reached the set at 11:30. I fell unconscious between shots. I was unwell and I had to do an action scene and it was physically and mentally taxing. I was able to pull it off only because of the team. Director Gurmmeet (Singh) was pressing my temples, somebody else got me Electral. I remember my action director clapping and saying, 'Well done!' when we finished shooting. I had a 103-degree fever by the time it ended and had to go back to my hotel. It would've been a taxing scene to pull off normally, but being unwell and injured just added to it.
I haven't finished the series yet, I've only watched four or five episodes. And even in those, it's hard to dig out the scene I'm proudest of because I rarely feel proud of my work. I always feel like it could've been better. So it's not so much an entire scene, it's more the small moments. There are some moments with Beena (Rasika Dugal), some moments with Munna (Divyenndu Sharma) that have a lot of nuance. Kaleen Bhaiyya appears peaceful on the outside, but his pregnant pauses are actually concealing a lot of emotion within. You see this throughout the series. It's hard to tell whether he's agreeing or disagreeing with the other person and you wonder what he'll decide. His pauses aren't vacant, they're filled with meaning. That's an element I really like and one that's also difficult to do. It's hard, as an actor, to remain thoughtful during pauses. You either look blank or useless thoughts enter your mind. For Kaleen, these pauses aren't a performance, they're a trait.
I'm proud of that scene in which Munna's talking to Madhuri and says: Agar hum clerk hote toh bura nahi hota. Kam se kam koi beijjati nahi karta. It shows how human and vulnerable he is.
Mirzapur season 2 starts at a point for Beena where she is suffering from the trauma of being violated and living in the same house as her tormentor. In the beginning, we see her as a broken person who, in some moments, even contemplates taking her own life. After one such episode, we see her trying to recover and find herself again. And she does what she has always done for survival – play the men around her to suit her needs. There is a scene between Bauji and Beena in which Beena has probably made a half-decision to play him and take her revenge. She tries to make him believe that she likes being with him but there is still the lingering fear of being violated again, a memory of the act of violence, deep anger and a lot of confusion about what she is doing at that moment. The scene had to have all of these. I remember we played it a few times before we got the take. I like what I see in the final episode but the beauty of shooting that scene was that I could have done it a million ways. Each take could be slightly different and some or one of the above feelings could have been played up. The few takes that we did were all different and special in their own way. There was so much to explore that I could have done it over and over again.
Munna takes his entourage to Sharad's house. And Sharad ko thoda darr lagna chahiye because this could turn into a big gang war. Munna is the kind of guy who isn't even willing to get out of his car. He's arrogant, he has that attitude of mai kyun aun? Tum aao. But Sharad is not that guy. He leaves his house, walks there calmly and listens. I had a whole internal monologue going on while I was performing that scene. I carried with me all the things I think about Munna, and the ambiguity and fear of that situation. Sharad, in that scene, lets Munna speak. He's not in a hurry to respond, he takes his time. He thinks through what Munna says and comes up with a strategy. When Munna says that a lot of people are going to die, he subtly turns the tables by saying there's no need for that. There's a lot of intensity and drama in that scene, but I wanted to play it in a very human, matter-of-fact and reluctant way. I deliver that line like someone telling you that if you go by Link Road in the evening, you'll encounter a lot of traffic. So easy, so normal.
Something magical happened in another scene, the one in which Bharat jacks Munna's truck in Bihar and so Munna calls Sharad for help. When we were shooting that scene, an insect sat on my hand. I shouted that we should start rolling and I didn't let that insect escape. I kept twisting my hand so it had space to roam, and from its perspective, it was free to travel. But from my perspective, it was just going round and round in the same place. It's symbolic of what my character was planning to do to Munna's at that point in time.
When I got the script, I began a three-month-long acting workshop for the show. I was born and brought up in Bombay and I live in Andheri now so playing a UP politician seemed far-fetched. I figured that the cabinet meeting was going to be a heavy scene. It was difficult because I don't think in Hindi. And this was a dialogue-heavy scene that required a certain amount of maturity. That was the toughest. What I enjoyed about the scene was that it got a lot of people guessing whose name was going to come up. Some said Munna, some said Kaleen. I had to keep the intrigue going in that scene. There could not have been any sort of giveaway. Since I kept people guessing, mission accomplished.
There's a scene in which Munna, Sharad and Bharat are sitting and bantering. When I read it, I was really cracking up because it felt straight out of a Yo Mama setup, where people are just going after each other's parents. I felt the potential in that scene because I knew that Divyenndu and I would work it out. It has a lot of elements. It starts with the two brothers, and then Munna makes a lame joke: Tum dono bachpan se hi judwa ho kya? Bharat responds with a line that shows he's used to being asked this and then the scene just goes somewhere else. I liked the way it was constructed and the way it ends. The last insult, Bharat asking why Munna's stepmother isn't called 'Kaleen', that's something I had given to the writers. I said that Bharat should also have a comeback, otherwise it'll just feel like Munna came to his land and did anything he wanted to and got away. So we needed to even it out a bit. After Bharat makes that joke, he realizes that Munna isn't affected by these things. That's genuinely his personality. And the joke eases up the situation.
The other one was the shootout with both the brothers and father. It's a long, long scene. I enjoyed playing with the parts. When you do something like this, you have to construct the scene in your head. You imagine yourself as Bharat and play the scene out in your head, and then you imagine yourself as Shatrughan and figure things like: When will their eyes meet? When will one person's hand go up? What will be the other person's reaction to that hand? I had to maintain a distinct quality between both brothers so people could tell who was who. We took two days to shoot that.
Season 2 was a much more fulfilling journey because I got to explore so much more of the character. There's a scene in which Ramakant meets Maurya at a witness' house and asks why he didn't tell him he was working to defeat the Tripathis. And I say I don't trust him and don't want any information to leak. I'm still carrying the deaths of the other police officers with me, it's like a weight on my shoulders. I finally trust Ramakant in this scene, but it's ironic because I try to stage an encounter killing with Guddu and then it's the one person I finally trust who kills me. It's poignant and ironic at the same time. It's also funny because when Maurya is an honest cop, a lot of the other policemen get killed but he survives. And when he tries to be dishonest and clever, he gets killed.