Mirzapur season 2 isn't a bad piece of gangster drama by any measure but when you're coming off the back of a tremendous first season, the storytelling needs to be as crisp, if not crisper, for the viewers to still rave about it. While this season has its fair share of intriguing moments, it is often marred by tropes we have all seen in gangster dramas since the 50s.
The second season picks up right after the series-one finale, with Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal) and Golu/Gajgamini (Shweta Tripati) reeling from the massacre caused by Munna Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma). We are reminded numerous times, over the course of the 10 episodes that Guddu and Golu want revenge and they will go to any lengths to achieve it.
The premise of the story, which was obvious even without the characters explicitly spelling it out for us, is the most common premise in a gangster drama and this is where the problems begin for Mirzapur season 2. Let's take John Wick as an example. The reason John Wick works isn't that the premise is something unique (although to their credit the whole Continental system is a significantly unique touch) but because of the treatment. They chose to make it the slickest action thriller possible and the entire focus was on that, not very much so on the premise.
What Mirzapur season 2 could have learnt from the John Wick series was that when you choose to play with a worn-out premise, the least you have to do is to treat it uniquely to engage the viewers. What's disappointing is that they did that exceptionally in the first season, flipping our expectations magnificently, and fell flat on their faces in the second.
This season felt as if the makers had mapped out the story but slacked off when it comes to writing the scenes that navigate through that map. They were so engrossed in ticking off each plot point that they somehow forgot to focus on the journey of it all. It is as though they were paying an anti-homage to the classic adage "The journey is more important than the destination."
It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the good parts of the season. When you have Ali Fazal and Pankaj Tripathi playing the most important roles of the lot, you rest assured that they will deliver not only their best but the best. However, the dark horse here is Divyendu Sharma who ups the ante in the second season and, in some moments, towers over Pankaj Tripathi. The rest do justice to their roles, although Vijay Varma stands out purely because it looked like he was having a ball.
Sadly, the writing does not support the actors enough to deliver an engrossing season. The characters are introduced with a background score that immediately underlines the fact that they are going to play an important role in the proceedings to come. It's 2020 and we're still being spoon-fed through the background score. The tropes play out in the manner we all expect them to, right from Dimpy (Harshita Gaur) falling in love with Robin (Priyanshu Painyuli) to Shabnam (Shernavaz Jijina) falling for Guddu and complicating things in the finale. Even the final pay-off doesn't seem cathartic enough because the emotional connect which was established in season 1 was somehow dismantled in the second, making it feel merely mechanical.
Mechanical, yes that's the word for the second season. Mirzapur season 2 is like a well-oiled machine that churned out a working piece, with all the elements for it to pass the test, but lacked the originality for the piece to stand above the rest.