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Mirza Juuliet review: A folktale adaptation gone wrong

Release Date: 07 Apr 2017 / 02hr 05min

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

The Pia Bajpai and Darshan Kumaar-starrer has pleasing visuals, but the film lacks good content.

What happens when you show attractive, colourful visuals but overlook something as vital as the writing? Well, the result turns out to be something like Rajesh Ram Singh’s Mirza Juuliet. The film seeks to give a quirky twist to the legend of Mirza-Sahiban but falls terribly short in the attempt.

Mirza Juuliet is set in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. Julie (Piaa Bajpai) is a fearless and carefree young girl who likes to have her way, come what may. Her stubornness is aided by the fact that she hails from a politically affluent family. The entire town is fearful of her brothers. One of them is Dharmaraj, played by Priyanshu Chatterjee.

Julie’s family has fixed her marriage with Rajan Pandey (Chandan Roy Sanyal), son of a senior politician (Swanand Kirkire) from Allahabad. Julie disapproves of the lascivious Rajan, but seems helpless. The wedding plans are delayed after Rajan’s brother is murdered.

Julie’s life takes a turn when her childhood friend Mirza (Darshan Kumaar) returns to Mirzapur. She is unaware that Mirza killed Rajan’s brother and is currently on the run. Julie and Mirza start meeting regularly with the obvious disapproval of her family. Will their childhood closeness transform into love? What will be the consequences?

Mirza Juuliet’s rich production design, colourful costumes and Ajay Pandey’s effective cinematography are visually pleasing. But how much can these technical factors satisfy a viewer if the narrative lacks conviction?

To be fair, the film starts off decently. The clash between two religious groups that ends in a murder gets you hooked immediately.

But the proceedings go downhill soon, never to recover. During the last 30-40 minutes, you're kept wondering about the aims of the main characters who seem to make no sense. It seems like the writers wanted to end the film just like the tragic Mirza-Sahiban folktale, but did not know how to.

In the tragic Punjabi folktale, ill-fated lovers Mirza-Sahiban are left to choose between love and loved ones. Last year, another production based on the same tale was released. Mirzya, starring Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher was directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Another major drawback in Mirza Juuliet is the half-baked romance between Julie and Mirza. It is left to the audience to assume that they are in love just because they have been signed opposite each other.

Add to this, the confused characterisation of Julie. She is shown as someone who cannot tolerate misbehaviour, but seems to have no issues with Rajan's sexual advances. Rajan could put a few of Shakti Kapoor's characters to shame.

The subject demanded good quality music. But the film lags behind in this department too, except for the enjoyable Qawwali number 'Teri Razamandi'.

The performances save face to an extent. Bajpai displays the right attitude needed for a strong, fearless girl. We'd like to see how she fares in her next films. Kumaar, who has starred in Mary Kom (2014), NH10 (2015) and Sarbjit (2016), falls victim to bad content. This is the first time that Chatterjee has played a ruthless negative character and scores brownie points.

The poor characterisation makes a talented Sanyal appear like a caricature. There are moments where he hams his way through. Kirkire is impressive as Rajan’s father. Yogendra Vikram Singh, in the role of Julie and Dharmraj’s brother, is the surprise package.

Overall, Mirza Juuliet is an example of good packaging, but bad content.  

Reviewed by Keyur Seta