Mirzapur makers defend the women characters and their agency; 'They've only evolved in Season 2'
The Mirzapur women's evolution proves that a show cannot ignore the part that females play in shaping a criminally-driven, power-crazed world, even if it lives and grows in fiction.
The women of Mirzapur was a contentious subject in Season 1. Some felt that female characters had little to add beyond serving as catalysts. Others found them easy to relate with. In the second season, the women have become revenge seekers, manipulators, and power brokers.
Ruthless, ambitious or simply surviving, they tackle adversity with strength, and do not apologise for their aggression. The second key factor that determines these characters is their relationship with their feminine side, and a no-holds-barred approach to sexual desire and fulfillment.
Ask the men that created this blood-soaked, violent universe, and their response is clear — Each character, male and female, has a journey and an arc in Mirzapur. The women have always mattered to this story. “When Puneet Krishna writes, he doesn’t’ bifurcate them (the characters) as male and female. Even smaller characters like Radhiya or Raja, he has written them all as characters that have their own journey. In this season, the women come to life on their own,” says Gurmmeet Singh, director of the show.
Co-director Mihir Desai adds, “Puneet has given us a range a characters. It’s the society that he has created, and the women are very strong. Not many took notice of Golu’s (Shweta Tripathi) dialogue in season 1 when she explains that she wears black nail polish not for men, but because she wants to. Beena (Rasika Dugal) is a very obvious arc who makes a specific choice. You see Dimpy (Harshita Gaur) making a certain choice in the same episode, and Golu make a different one in the same episode.”
Written by Puneet and Vineet Krishna, and co-written by Karan Anshuman, Mirzapur offers a slice of toxic masculinity, and its vice-like grip over women from birth to death in the Hindi heartland. While Beena, the wife of protagonist Akhandanand Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi), craves sexual fulfillment and suffers severe punishment for this; Golu Gupta is an earnest student seeking reform, but ends up taking the path of violence to survive. Mothers accommodate to ground reality (Sheeba Chaddha), sisters adapt to violence (Dimpy), and new female characters seek political power and control (Isha Talwar as Madhuri).
For Shweta, women of Mirzapur reflect women from the real-life universe of Indian patriarchy. “As for Golu (and her choices), we live in a patriarchal society, and Mirzapur exists in such a society too. If we need female characters to behave differently, then our society needs to change too. In this season, they are more fleshed out and evolved definitely. Power doesn’t come only with guns and violence. In this season, you look at Beena and Sharad’s mom Shakuntala. Shakuntala doesn’t tell her child what he should eat; instead she tells him what he should be doing to become king. It’s almost a mentor-like persona. So is the change in Sheeba Chaddha in this season. Be it Madhuri who is very ambitious or Radhiya, who is limited by her circumstances, Season 2 has women of all shades that we can relate to.”
Mirzapur introduced Golu by tackling sexual gratification directly. In fact, sexuality is integral to actions and motives that drive women in this show. Shweta explains, “Such a big deal was made out of my introductory scene in season one that I was very surprised. I didn’t make anything out of it. When journalists, including women, were giggling and asking me about it, I found that very strange. I am sure we all know women who masturbate. Morally, we like our women to be upright even onscreen. It’s not just about the gender. But we can express our desires in a manner that doesn’t corrode. “
Women seeking pleasure is relatively new to Indian entertainment. Mirzapur has dealt with it without filters.
The most significant and powerful female character in this space is that of Beena. She craves sexual satisfaction, which her husband, a don, cannot provide for. She carves her own justice, and survives mind-numbing humiliation by her father-in-law Bauji (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), using it to access her strength. Krishna explains, “You’d be surprised to know that I have met someone who is very close to Beena’s character. We might want to believe that such women don’t exist in society. But they do. We cannot ignore the fact that women have sexual desires. That’s a fact. We cannot negate their desires. Now, if going after desires makes her dangerous, we need to ponder over that response. I am not just referring to women’s sexuality, I also mean men being comfortable with sexuality. When we are comfortable women asking for sexual gratification, only then are we being free as a society.”
Singh adds, “Rasika’s character understood the world that she is living in; she still aims to gratify her desires. Even when Bauji does what he does to her, she doesn’t see herself as doing anything wrong. She is manufacturing her own life, and is leading it. She is not dependent on other men to prop her up. Now, the show has reached an equilibrium where it doesn’t matter if the characters are men or women."
With a female politician, a kingmaking mother, and a gun-totting intelligent woman seeking revenge, the women of Mirzapur are standing up and making things interesting for the audience. Their evolution proves that a show cannot ignore the part that women play in shaping a criminally-driven, power-crazed world, even if it lives and grows in fiction.
Mirzapur Season 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.
All images from Twitter.
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