It’s no easy task trying to tell an epic love story on the big screen. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra tries to give us two instead of one. And that ends up being the boon and the bane of Mirzya.
Based on the popular Mirza-Sahibaan legend, the movie opens with an absolutely stunning sequence set in an unknown time and an unknown land filled with archers on horseback, arrows piercing clay pigeons, flaming fireballs, all in a medieval contest of sorts with life, death and love at stake. This is juxtaposed with a second story set in present times in the magnificent locales of Rajasthan with palaces, princes and polo matches. Shuchi is betrothed to Prince Karan but therein looms forbidden love with Aadil, the prince’s stable boy no less and a possible rekindling of a childhood sweetheart romance cut short. The two stories run parallel infused with a narrative that makes use of ballads set to twirling Rajasthani folk dancers to help it move forward.
The problem with doing a love story based on popular folklore is often the predictability of it all and that’s where you need the writer, director and the leads raising their game to overcome it. And they don’t quite do it.
The newcomers are fine. Rough around the edges when it comes to dialog delivery, Saiyami is lovely in an exotic way and looks the part of a reluctant princess. Harshvardhan goes for a non-histronics, non-six-pack, non singing dancing debut and although mumbly, is quiet, understated (maybe a bit too much) and lets his eyes talk. Individually they are fine but together they fall flat. For an epic love story, chemistry is an absolute must and the lack of which is the biggest problem of the movie. No fireworks, no passion even when they’re locking lips. You don’t feel for them at any stage, their love, their pain, nothing. In fact I thought the kid actors playing them had better chemistry. Those kids were fab actually.
The supporting cast do a fine job. Especially Anuj Choudhry as the understanding but jealous Prince and Anjali Patil as Aadil’s friend who quietly pines for him.
But where the movie soars is in its visuals. Polish cinematographer Pawel Dyllus paints his frames like no other. A bit excessive with the use of slow motion, director Rakeysh Mehra exhibits technical finesse and this is visual poetry unfolding on screen. The contrasting locales of both the stories – from the cold mountains, dreamy landscapes and lakes in Ladakh to the simmering deserts and glorious palaces of Rajasthan, you can’t take your eyes off the screen even if your mind wanders. And then the music. By far what is Shankar Ehsan Loy’s best soundtrack in a long time, Gulzar saab’s tremendous range of poetry comes alive and redeems the movie to an extent. Aave Re Hitchki, Teen Gawah, Hota Hai and the title song being my favourite picks.
If you have the patience to overcome the sluggish pace and the flat chemistry between the leads, then for its sheer aesthetic magnificence and soulful soundtrack, Mirzya is worth a watch and a listen.
Romance, musical, drama
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher
Running time: 128 minutes