There could be a strong argument for taking out launch pads of debuting star progeny in our cinema, on the grounds that they are used to infiltrate ordinary talent into the film industry. More often than not the films are advertisements, announcing the arrival of various sons and daughters of our feudal lords, shot beautifully to display their best angles, and intended to occupy legitimate acting space in a competitive environment
The launch of these debutants are frequently boosted by the most reputed names in Hindi film making. ‘Mirzya’, for instance, is written by Gulzar, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and has music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Despite these credentials, the film, a retelling of ‘Mirza Sahiban’, one of the four tragic romances in Punjabi folklore, is an empty vessel. What distinguishes it are verses of poetry recited by Om Puri, interspersed with the stunning canvas of Rajasthan on which is painted the plot of an impossible and unlikely love between a Princess to be in Udaipur and an Ostler, an attendant of horses in the Royal Stables there.
The two were close as children in a school in Jodhpur before tragic circumstances separated them. Yet when they meet after years as adults, the chemistry between Suchitra (Saiyami Kher) and Munish (Harshvardhan Kapoor) is unrealistically instantaneous. She has no qualms about dumping her Prince charming (Anuj Choudhry) in an instant, riding out into the sunset with her ‘Syce’.
Conversations are limited in the movie, nuances and subplots non existent. The only cinematic innovation added to expand and develop the narrative is a parallel depiction of a similar story of unrequited love, set in an earlier era, which keeps coming back at crucial stages. Though stunningly shot, this second story does not enhance the contemporary tale, but rudely interrupts it.
Similarly, the Punjabi tragic romance is echoed by an English one, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The father of the Royal bride to be, who probably fancies himself as Lord Capulet, quotes from the play, but then, when his daughter reveals her love for the stable hand instead of the Prince, gets drunk and mixes up his Shakespeare. He turns into Mark Antony and tells his daughter: ‘this was the most unkindest cut of all’.
Indeed it was, my Lord. The film has scenes of visual poetry, but the question you ask right from the beginning is this: can this one line story sustain the movie to the end? The answer is a simple ‘no’.