While the rest of us were binge-watching season 2 of Amazon Prime Video’s Mirzapur, its director, writers and a few of the cast took off to Goa, where the initial reactions began to sink in. “It’s insane, this kind of viewership, this kind of fandom. We got to know that people in the South were pouring milk over hoardings of Munna (Divyenndu Sharma),” says Shweta Tripathi.
The season picks up from the Red Wedding-eseque carnage of the previous one. After her sister Sweety (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and her friend Bablu (Vikrant Massey) are killed, Tripathi’s Golu teams up with her brother-in-law Guddu (Ali Fazal) to plot revenge. In a 180-degree turn for the bookish, introverted character, she learns how to wield a gun, familiarize herself with illegal operations and manipulate men to get her work done.
“This project is the closest to my heart because this character was so complex and challenging. It sucked the life out of me but it feels good that it was worth it,” says Tripathi. She spoke about filming that challenging climax, figuring out the character’s shift in mindset and what she predicts for season 3.
What’s the one scene you’re proudest of? Or the one in which you think you did your best work?
The climax. On that day, I was in my car, Ali was in his, both of us were heading to the shoot. I sent him a screenshot of Sweety and he sent me back a crying gif. Since we share a two-room vanity van, one side his and one side mine, we usually open the connecting door, share a coffee or listen to music and chitchat. But on that day, he was in his zone, I was in mine. We were both so emotional because this was the climax and so we were trying to fuel those internal feelings of revenge. And then it started raining. We were trying so hard to keep that pain alive but the emotion left us because we realized we might not be shooting on that day.
Suddenly, it was announced that the shoot was still on and we had to summon those feelings all over again. We started thinking of the last episode of season 1. I’ve relived those last few minutes so many times, what happened to Bablu and Sweety. I started listening to the playlist I’d created for my character and we got to the point where we were brimming with emotion. It was a 10-minute walk from our vanity van to the shoot and when we got there, an Akhanda (Pankaj Tripathi)-Munna scene was going on. The fake blood that’s put on the actors is sweet, so flies kept sitting on them. We thought that was yet another thing we’d have to contend with – that we’d have to be so in character, we wouldn’t be able to swat away the flies. But we didn’t end up shooting that day.
The next day, there was a forecast of rain, but our director decided to do the scene anyway. So we had to go through all those motions again. Also, handling a gun isn’t easy. It’s loud and not fun. Plus, I was on day 3 of my period. Ali, Divyenndu and I hadn’t eaten, we were just shooting. And it was hot. The shooting conditions were hard but the most beautiful moment came when we shot Munna. After that, Ali and I just cried and cried and cried. It just felt like closure. Nobody made us feel awkward. Everyone on set felt that emotion. The characters had become real for everyone.
Then there’s the first kill.
I know you mean the first time your character kills, but is this also the first time you’ve ever killed someone onscreen?
It was my first kill as an actor. I’ve never done action before. I’ve never played a character like Golu before. I got nightmares while shooting season 2 because I’d feel, like her, that people were after my friends and family. Wearing her clothes had a lot to do with that. I don’t dress up like Golu in real life. The scar on her face, her walk, her body language, all of that psychologically affects you.
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 channeled 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.
There’s another crying scene that I love – you and Guddu just holding each other in bed and sobbing.
There was no glycerine, we didn’t need it. I wouldn’t want anybody to have Golu’s life because it’s just so full of heartbreak and pain. She doesn’t trust anybody. If you think about it, she doesn’t have a single friend. She doesn’t smile once this season. And she’s so alone. Guddu has Shabnam (Shernavaz Jijina), but Shatrughan (Vijay Varma) is just someone Golu’s using for work. She doesn’t know how she feels about Guddu – is she possessive? She feels like she has his right over him because they’re two people who’ve experienced something traumatic.
I didn’t know that Ali was going to cry at the end when he killed Munna. And I love the decision that I don’t. It’s not like: Oh, she’s a girl, she’ll cry. It’s great.
Did you know that you were going to have such a major arc going into season 2?
I did season 1 for season 2. There was no guarantee, it was a gamble. If Golu had died in season 1, I wouldn’t have done the show. Sweety had a graph, a lot happened to her, but Golu’s life was very simple. That only changed during the climax. Golu season 1 was so chill. Our moral and political compass aligned. I enjoyed playing her but I knew that she had the chance to go somewhere only because Sweety and Bablu were going to die. I thought that there was no way she was going to sit back and let others take charge. No one had told me about her season 2 arc, but I was hopeful and had a gut feeling.
How did your mindset change between season 1 and season 2 in terms of the prep involved?
The most challenging thing was figuring out how the Golu who was set up in season 1 becomes a different version of herself in season 2. She’s made into this monster. In the script, she’s very confused. She doesn’t know if what she’s doing is right or wrong. She’s such a headstrong girl who’s now being made to challenge her own beliefs. So that was confusing to me as an actor, but then I realized it’s about survival of the fittest. Golu’s not happy about what she does, but if she doesn’t do it, they’ll kill her. If she was a real person, she’d be hard to figure out. So I approached it as trying to be friends with this character and understand her. And she’d keep running from me.
I spoke to Rasika Dugal after season 1 and she said that the show gave her the chance to break away from being typecast as the ‘morally upright’ woman. Did you feel the same?
I love playing characters who perform well in difficult situations. It would be difficult for me to play a character who just listens to everyone else. I like my women to be empowered. It’s okay if they’re not as ambitious as the other characters in that film, I just want them to have a voice. Golu is at the extreme of that. Shalu in Masaan (2015) is headstrong, she knows she wants to marry Deepak irrespective of his caste. And now I’m playing Golu, who’s another girl from Benaras. Her beliefs might be different, but she’s just as headstrong.
Where do you see Golu going in season 3? She’s got what she wants, now what?
I’m so curious to find out. I think now she’ll have to figure out what she really wants. Does she want to continue with this? Because it’s a rabbit hole. She’s killed people, so she can’t just go back to college and resume studying. There’s blood on her hands, and she can’t wipe it off.