EXCLUSIVE! Mirzapur Ladies Shweta Tripathi And Rasika Dugal On S2, Change In Power Dynamics And What ‘Bhaukaal’ Really Means!
On November 16, 2018, Amazon Prime Video India’s Mirzapur ended its nine-episode Season 1. The gates of Mirzapur had closed for now, and they opened only for rewatches and memes. The audience swarmed the series’ and platform’s social media accounts asking just one question, not even bothering to spell it out. Because it was that universal—MS2W. Well, after two whole years, the show is finally back and with open arms, saying, “Welcome back to Mirzapur”. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll notice that things are not the same. And yet, they are. Bhaukaal still reigns supreme. The game for the throne still continues. And human greed and ambition are the biggest influences in the game. But revenge is now a motivating factor, and wielding this weapon are the women of Mirzapur, who’ve got a lot taken from them. Shweta Tripathi’s Golu and Rasika Dugal’s Beena Tripathi lead this charge.
While some of our favourite characters, like Bablu (Vikrant Massey) and Sweety (Shriya Pilgaonkar) didn’t make it to Mirzapur S2, they’ve still got work to do. Their deaths are fuelling the revenge plans for Guddu Bhaiyya (Ali Fazal) and Golu. These two seem to be ready to bring Kaleen Bhaiyya and his son, the new King of Mirzapur, Munna Bhaiyya, and their rule in Mirzapur down. In fact, if you ask me, I’m rooting for Golu to get her revenge in the most colourful way possible. She was one of the most innocent and underestimated characters who has now undergone a complete transformation. Usually when this happens to a character, the arc gets super interesting and there’s great scope for an actor to show their chops!
Beena’s character has always been one seen as very simple, motivated by something rather singular. But with the way we left things in Season 1, she’s got some firepower of her own now. What she does, from within the Tripathi household, how she changes the game and what drives her is going to be an interesting watch.
Also Read: 5 Thoughts I Had While Watching Mirzapur S2 Trailer. I Can’t Wait To See Golu Get Her Revenge!
Clearly, the ladies of Mirzapur have their task for the Season 2 cut out for them—bring in that bhaukaal! Speaking of, did you know what the meaning of bhaukaal was before Mirzapur? Do you think you know it now? In an exclusive and rather fun chat, Mirzapur’s femme fatales, Shweta Tripathi aka Golu, and Rasika Dugal aka Beena, talk about their characters on Season 2, the shift in power dynamics this season, and what they think the word ‘bhaukaal’ really means!
Q: The hype around Mirzapur S2 is insane. As a fan of the show, I wonder what you guys felt when you saw how hugely popular the show is, and so desperately awaited by the fans!
Shweta Tripathi: Main jis type ka kaam karti thi uska marketing budget kabhi nahi hota! Jo bhi paisa hai who shoot mein chala jaata hai. So when you do work which is marketed everywhere, there is this validation also! When I used to watch actors on TV as a kid, the art and craft fascinated me of course. But it was the being on screen that was the most exciting. Indie cinema, parallel cinema, political and moral inclinations… all that comes to you later. The allure of the big screen is primary. I wanted to do Maggi ads, or Ponds’ ‘googly-woogly’ ad! I wanted to do the whole DDLJ act, running in yellow fields, flying a yellow dupatta!
It’s only later I realized what I wanted to do. And I’m glad that I found and did projects like Masaan, Haramkhor, Gone Kesh and Mirzapur, which is the baap of all of these in terms of scale and everything. It’s great that you don’t have to send a WhatsApp to people to watch your work. Because you know that iska trailer toh sabne dekha hoga!
Q: Were you guys nervous or under pressure going into Season 2, knowing how much of fan expectation was at stake after the success of Season 1?
Rasika Dugal: Not for me. If at all, I felt bad for Gurmmeet Singh, Mihir Desai and Puneet Krishna (directors and writes on Mirzapur)! In logon ko toh bohot pressure hoga ki accha likhna hai, and we have to make it as engaging and entertaining, maybe even more. They probably felt it too, but they never showed that on set. It was lovely and the energy was quite good around them. But what I see of Season 2, I can say that they’ve really upped their game. The the scale and visualization of Season 2 are definitely several notches higher. But it has not lost its nuances and details, the relationships are even better etched out. They’ve not shied away from getting into more complexities. They’ve even introduced new characters which I am dying to watch myself!
I feel very confident about Season 2 based on how we have worked on it. But also because of the way fans are responding to anything about Mirzapur Season 2. I think they’ve already decided that they’re going to like it! At least that’s what I have been gauging from social media or from people I’ve met and talked to.
Q: You can walk like a Mirzapuriya, and look like one too. But is it hard to talk like one, especially after a hiatus? Did you find it difficult to master the dialect or find yourselves hesitating when uttering swear words that you wouldn’t normally use?
Rasika: I grew up in Jamshedpur, which was earlier in Bihar and is now in Jharkhand. So, for me, speaking this language felt like going back home. It’s slightly different than how we speak it there, but still quite familiar. In fact, I’ll am talking to you now, and if I get a call from somebody in Jamshedpur and I’ll immediately switch to, “Haan humko pata nahi tha ki hum who bole!” The associations are all subconscious and it often feels like a homecoming of sorts for me.
Also Read: Exclusive: Shweta Tripathi Sharma On Shooting ‘The Gone Game’ At Home And Lockdown Life With Husband, Rapper Slow Cheeta
Greedy fan that I am, at this point, I tried to ask the ladies very slyly about where Golu and Beena are at when Season 2 reopens. Unfortunately, they were shrewd and saw right through it! (Hey, I tried for all you guys!) But I wasn’t coming out empty-handed now, was I? Yeh toh Mirzapur ke sanskaar nahi hain!
Q: Shweta, what went into playing Golu this season, with the shift from being a sweet, innocent girl to now someone who is bereaved, enraged and hell-bent on revenge?
Shweta: Sweet, innocent girl se toh I want to stay far, far away! It’s not as exciting as a character who has a lot of shades and layers, and has a lot to learn from. Me, I enjoy it when my character has less similarities to who I am as a person. I did Season 1 for Season 2 and it has been such a wonderful journey.
Like you asked about the language, right? Not just the language but I even felt emotions that I’d probably never experience or want to experience in my life as Shweta. Can you imagine living Golu’s life… losing two people who you care about the most in the world? Beena, Golu… these women’s lives are not easy. It’s really important then to have your finger on the pulse of this character’s emotion. Once you catch that, there’s nothing right or wrong.
In fact, Nawaz bhai (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) had once said, “Actor ka dharam nahi hona chahiye.” An actor should be neutral. And I agree with it. It’s very important to be open to situations and experiences where you wouldn’t go. It’s extremely challenging!
Q: Rasika, your character Beena Tripathi, seems to be in a position to make a lot of power moves. Majburi mein shuru kiya tha, lekin kya Beena ko ab mazaa aa raha hai, wielding power and manipulating her way through this “men’s game”?
Rasika: I think Beena always enjoyed being in power and being manipulative. You know how some people enjoy doing things just because it’s not something other people would do? Beena’s always been the kind of person who likes to play things differently. And she derives fun from being deviant in this way.
I’ve always understood her to be someone who deeply desires power. She’s smart and knows how she can get what she wants. In Season 2, of course, a lot of her actions are driven by revenge. But the idea that Beena wants power carries on from Season 1 to Season 2.
Q: Makes me curious. Could that much power ever corrupt Golu’s purpose for stepping in the game? Can her motivations ever shift from revenge to power?
Shweta: I think in Season 1, Golu had her reasons for being against violence. Now because of situations, she thinks there’s no other way but violence. Golu does pick up the gun, but I don’t think she’ll ever enjoy the gun. From what I understand, a person’s core remains the same. Your moral compass can shift, but I don’t think it would change for Golu what she believes in deep down. Actually, it would be interesting to know….
Q: What Mirzapur portrays on screen, especially when it comes to the crime, politics and the oppression of women, is in fact, pretty much a reality in India’s hinterlands. Does it ever make you introspect about how the reel is bleeding into the real and vice versa? How do you reconcile yourself with the characters you play and your own beliefs and emotions?
Rasika: That’s an interesting question. A lot that you do as a part of your acting job to truly understand and empathise with the character you’re playing, might sometimes not be in sync with your own politics or what is happening around you at the moment. So here, you’ve extended yourselves into another way of being and thinking. And suddenly in real life, your empathy is not agreeing with your politics.
One is a very intellectual idea; one is a very experiential thing. And it’s very difficult when there’s a discord and you can’t reconcile it. I find that hard. For example, playing a cop in Delhi police in Delhi Crime. Earlier I used to be quickly dismissive of the police force, as civilians in our country are. But now, I question myself twice before being dismissive.
It’s probably not in sync with my politics or with the conversation that people around me are having. But there is a hangover of the empathy I had when I was playing that part.
The kind of lives we lead right now, it can be easy to retract into our own social media bubbles right now and not feel anything. Sometimes I worry that might happen to me one day! So, it is interesting as an artist to find yourself in such a situation. Because that’s when you know that at least everything, all parts are working properly—I’m able to feel, experience, absorb and intellectualise.
When the trailer dropped, #BoycottMirzapur was trending for some reason that we won’t qualify with an explanation.
Q: Mirzapur is like a goldmine of memes! But on the other side of that coin is the negativity and trolling that’s become disgustingly commonplace today. How do you deal with it all?
Shweta: It’s very easy to sit on your bed with your mobile phone and spread hate. I’ve never understood that and I don’t believe in spreading hate. It’s why I don’t let those people affect me. It hasn’t helped anyone. People do have the right to their own opinion. This is my work and it is releasing. If you like my work, a big thank you. If you don’t, thank you for watching. But I don’t care for people who are ready to dismiss and judge things
That hate is fuelled by emotions and opinions that I don’t have any respect for. So they don’t bother me. So, I simply restrict, report and block such comments. It’s very easy to hate; it’s very hard to support somebody.
I feel negativity and toxicity are like quicksand. Aap usme jitna ghusoge, woh utna aapko neeche leke jayega. Best is to ignore. I mean, who is going to boycott Mirzapur, really?
Q: Here’s a very pressing and important question that a lot of fans from across the world wonder. Did you guys know what ‘bhaukaal’ meant before y’all shot Mirzapur?
*They ask each other if they knew it!*
Shweta: I’d like to say that I did, but I didn’t!
Rasika: I didn’t. In fact, kabhi kabhi main bhaukaal ka meaning bhool jaati hoon! Because people seem to be using it for a variety of ways. Everybody says, “Bhaukaal! Bhaukaal!” and sometimes I wonder what does it really mean! So it seems to be a versatile word with a ring to it that you can use for a bunch of things!
Now I may not yet know what’s happening in Mirzapur Season 2, but I guess I already knew the answer to this next question, even before Shweta and Rasika said it.
Q: Can you both, in one word, describe what we can expect Mirzapur Season 2 to be?
Shweta and Rasika, in unison: Bhaukaaaaaaaal!
Told ya, versatile word that bhaukaal.
Mirzapur S2 begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video India from October 23, 2020.