(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
In the most complex of Punjab’s tragic love stories, Sahiban dooms her lover Mirza to death rather than have him kill her family. Why she did that has remained an unanswered question till now. And by his own admission, it was this very mystery that compelled Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to make “Mirzya”, a modern-day take on the age-old tale. And yet, the puzzle seems to be the least of Mehra’s concerns throughout the film.
Instead, the film-maker focuses on gorgeous visuals, dressing up his love story in fairy tale hues with songs conveying more emotions than the two leads can muster. The part of the 129-minute film which deals with the ancient story of Mirza and Sahiban is gorgeously shot by Pawel Dyllus - wordlessly and in slow motion. But it loses its sheen when the leads Saiyami Kher and Harshvardhan Kapoor cannot summon the expressions needed to tell you a story without words.
In the modern re-telling, Mohnish and Suchitra are childhood friends whose fledgling love is brutally cut short. The girl is sent abroad and when she returns as an adult, is betrothed to the heir to a royal family (Anuj Choudhry). Mohnish is the stable hand at the modern-day prince’s stud farm, and Suchitra is inexplicably drawn to this scrawny and shaggy man rather than her fiancé. Even if you put that down to the vagaries of love, the story doesn’t reflect the passion that Mehra wants to convey.
Part of the blame lies on the new leads - they don’t have the chemistry or the acting chops required in a film that is so devoid of reality that only the actors can convince you otherwise. The other problem is that Mehra and screenwriter Gulzar deal with one too many timelines, cutting haphazardly from Mirza and Sahiban to Suchitra and Monish.
The trimmings in this love story like the music and choreography are the best bits but Mehra and Gulzar fail to give us a sense of the real conflicts in the film - the reason for Sahiban’s actions and the choice one has to sometimes make between lover and family.