Expectations I Have From Mirzapur Season 2 As A Feminist Viewer
A preview for the premiere date of Mirzapur Season 2 dropped yesterday, August 24, with Amazon Prime Video announcing that fans will meet the infamous Kaleen Bhaiya and his clan again on October 23. Through nine episodes, the first season of this highly-rated web series has received thundering applause from the audience and critics alike, for its intriguing storyline and hyper-real settings. The highlight, of course, was the ensemble, consisting of names like Pankaj Tripathi, Vikrant Massey, Rasika Dugal, and Sheeba Chadha, who have become synonymous with Indian OTT series today.
With guns, drugs, sex, and mafia, the first season of Mirzapur was packed with blood and gore, which was too graphic for many to even stomach. Naturally, female representation in this underworld lacked, despite a strong titular female cast comprising Shriya Pilgaonkar, Shweta Tripathi, Sheeba Chadha, and Rasika Dugal. And as a feminist viewer, that wasn’t even my only grievance. There is scope for so much, and then some more. So here’s what I’m expecting from the second season of Mirzapur:
Let These Women Own Their Sexuality Without Shame
Dugal’s dialogue as Beena – “Har baar garam karke thanda hi chhodd dete hain humko” – was perhaps representative of the sexual fulfilment of all the women in the show. Their desires were seen as aberrations meant to be concealed, either on their own or by someone else. When Beena addresses her complaint to Kaleen Bhaiya (Tripathi), her husband, she is told not to behave like a “wh**e” and maintain “lihaaj.” He doesn’t care much about the fulfilment of her sexual desires.
Meanwhile, his son Munna (Divyendu Sharma), wilds around town having sex like a rabbit with a new woman every day. Fuelled by money, he is shown to have the women of the town at his feet, and he roughs it up with them as much as he pleases. This discrepancy between male and female sexual desires is glaring in the show, representative of real life. But season two would do well to break this cast by giving some pleasure to these women who so deserve it.
No Means No, Munna
It is widely accepted by fans and Kaleen Bhaiya alike, that Munna is a grade-A jerk. And yet, he is among the most well-loved characters on the show, because it pivots on extreme brashness, given its crime settings. So that’s justified. But from a feminist standpoint, he is a highly problematic character. He reinforces that age-old Bollywood stereotype of wooing girls by harassing them to say ‘yes.’ Chasing Sweety (Pilgaonkar) around in hopes that she’ll consent to him, he believes “uski naa mein hi haan hai.” While this is meant to be reflective of how problematic he is, it is an unnecessary character arc that could have easily been avoided. This trope is now redundant, and it would do well for the makers to tell the audience how nasty he is without resorting to such tropes.
The Toxic Masculinity Could Be Toned Down
If you asked me which character I would date from the show, I’d say Bablu Pandit (Massey), the most muted member of Mirzapur’s crime family. While the other men in the gang are all noise and brawn, Bablu is the brain. And that lends him many dimensions. Standing in stark contrast to his all-muscles brother, Guddu (Ali Fazal), Bablu is the antidote to all the toxic masculinity that runs amok on the show.
When the first season came out, he did face some stereotyping from the audience for being the meekest, lankiest character – the “dainty” man who pukes at the sight of bloodshed and prefers reason over violence. But as a feminist viewer, I’m all for him, since he breaks the mould. In this regard, the machismo of the other hypermasculine characters could also be toned down a bit for the audience to understand that a man need not be un-emotional to be liked.
More Screen Time For These Badass Women
Each female character is superb and flaunts several shades, and I only wish they had been given more screen time to explore that. Even as a crime-thriller fanatic, I admit that there’s only so much knifing and gunning one can enjoy with every consecutive frame. It becomes banal after a point.
Since the women in the show have been placed in lesser degrees of crime – like the gun-wielding Golu (Tripathi) and Vasudha (Chadha) – they provided a nice, balanced antidote to the rest of the storyline. And since I can’t demand that they be given significance enough to replace Kaleen Bhaiya, King of Mirzapur, himself, what I can expect is more screen time for these women.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
Here’s the official teaser for Mirzapur Season 2: