Shweta Tripathi and Rasika Dugal on how they hold their own in Mirzapur 2's patriarchal world
Shweta Tripathi and Rasika Dugal discuss the transitions their characters Beena Tripathi and Golu Gupta underwent in Mirzapur 2.
Set in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh, Amazon Prime Video series Mirzapur — a high-on-testosterone world of gangs, guns, crime, corruption and mafia may have men at the centerstage but strong women actors like Rasika Dugal, Shweta Tripathi, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Harshita Gaur play pivotal roles in the series.
Not just that their characters' arcs are as dramatic but they hold their own in this extremely patriarchal world. The leading ladies, Dugal and Tripathi revealed the interesting developments and the transition that their characters – Beena Tripathi and Gajgamini ‘Golu’ Gupta, undergo, and what attracted them to this fictional ‘world of goons’.
While Dugal says she extremely happy with the way Beena “flourishes” in the second instalment. “At the end of season one, you see how my character has been violated and humiliated. Season two starts at a point where you see her trying to deal with that and finding herself. It’s a beautiful journey. When I saw that in the script I was very happy because I had not expected that they would spend time on my character,” says the actress.
She furthers, “Lot of revenge dramas tend to be unidimensional and not very nuanced because revenge itself is not a nuanced way of being. It can be quite intense and extreme where you may only explore a person's extreme hatred for something. But the creators have touched upon how they reach the point of revenge and that has made Beena’s journey extremely fascinating. She reaches the point where she finds herself again and then she moves forward because she is a survivor.”
For Dugal, who was offered the show after she had completed Manto, it was a great opportunity to play a character which was dramatically opposite Manto's wife Safia. “I had never played a character like Beena especially in terms of her physicality. I play a morally upright woman in Manto, but here I was getting the opportunity to play someone who’s so manipulative and knows how to play the men around her. I don’t get such parts and if the directors of season one (Gurmeet Singh and Karan Anshuman) were thinking in a stereotypical way then they wouldn’t have cast me. They did really think out-of-the-box and for me it was an absolute joy. I agree that women in Mirzapur, at least in season one don’t have the kind of screen time to drive the narrative, but my character is not a cardboard cut-out. It’s well-written, nuanced and is placed very well in the story,” she says.
“Screen time and the number of dialogues have never scared me. I was seen in just one episode of Made In Heaven,” says Shweta Tripathi. “Mirzapur is a world of goons but more than the length of the character, what is happening in the story is more crucial. Even if you are given a small part, whoever wants to shine will shine,” says Tripathi, whose character Golu's story is of central importance in season two.
“My character was in a comfort zone, her life was great but she has been removed from there and thrown in a different world. She didn’t believe in violence, she was an honest and sincere person, but when you are pushed in a corner and when someone you love the most is brutally killed then that changes your core though your foundation may still remain the same. I took a lot of time to understand that,” says the actress.
Since there was a considerable break between seasons one and two, Tripathi says it was the climax that helped her find her character again. “You do feel a little lost but if the script is good it really helps you reach there where you have to be in terms of emotion, in terms of character graph and in terms of relationships. One thing that really helped me was the finale scene and how the season one ended. I have lived those moments so many times,” says the actress.
However, for Dugal, it was not so much about the time gap. “But what I found challenging was to revisit a character after listening to so many opinions and having too much information on the character because then your personal equation with that character can get corrupted. Going into season two, I was a little nervous about that."
While the long format of web series liberates the actors in terms of their performances, the variety and choices of roles as compared to feature films, what matters the most to both, Dugal and Tripathi, is good story.
“I really enjoy shooting in the longer format. Had Mirzapur been a film then Beena would probably have not got the space and she might have been edited out of the script. A true ensemble can exist comfortably and has the opportunity to flourish in a long form series format. I have a lot of time to warm up to my character and explore her rather than walking into it very prepared which at times happens in a short film, or a feature film. But it is not to say that cinema has less interesting content. Qissa (2013-release partition story), for instance, has been my best experience as an actor,” says Dugal.
“I don’t want to compare because both mediums have their own pros and cons. Characters in a longer format are definitely more layered and juicier. I love sinking my teeth into fleshed out characters but it can also be very difficult for actors as well as writers to sustain because of the duration of the show, for instance, each episode of Mirzapur is over 40 minutes long. Also, web series is a bigger commitment, a bigger risk for actors as compared to feature film because if a film of yours is bad you can move on to the next one but you might have to stick with a series until it is over. And then we grew up dreaming about the big screen. But we won’t do a feature just because it is for the big screen,” says Tripathi.
And the actress concludes saying, “Primarily we will always gravitate towards a good story. As actors, good roles liberate us and it all depends on the project not the platform. It could even be a radio show with just my voice, or a stage performance, or a short film. As actors we are always trying to do something different. There are more options now, so every artist gets more opportunities to showcase their talent. It is a great time to be in the industry right now.”
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