Disclaimer: The following post contains minor spoilers from Mirzapur S2.
Unless you've been completely cut-off from social media, chances are, you know that the second season of Amazon Prime Video's Mirzapur released earlier than expected, setting fans up for a sleepless night.
Having binge-watched the season, one thing is clear, Mirzapur 2 is as an absolute blood-fuelled, violent, revenge saga. And while new characters are introduced, it's the old players who still hold sway over Mirzapur and the audience.
Especially Munna Bhaiya played by Divyendu Sharma.
Divyendu Sharma arrived on the silver screen as the adorable 'liquid' in Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Since then, he hasn't shied away from experimenting with varied roles, creating a diverse filmography.
But, it's Mirzapur where he absolutely shines in his portrayal of a crime lord's entitled brat, who is, at times a douchebag of the highest order, and at times, a lost boy looking for love and respect.
Munna Bhaiya is not your typical villain. For one thing, everything in life is a joke to him. As a character states about him, 'kya bakchod aadmi hai'.
For those of us who grew up on a steady diet of Hindi villains being 'serious men', aka the entire 90s generation, this comes across as an unexpectedly pleasant break.
But, as the audience soon realizes, the 'devil-may-care' attitude is just one part of his persona.
There are actually multiple layers to his personality - layers that Divyendu pulls off with complete ease, leaving you begrudgingly admiring, and even relating, to a character who is, for all intents and purposes, an asshole.
Yes. That is the genius of the writers and the actor. Munna Bhaiya is a layered, complex character whose ideas of crime and domination are fuelled not by revenge, but ego. Who has the ability to rule with an iron fist, but not the patience for it. And who has never learned the art of subtlety.
And yet, for all of Munna's obvious flaws and brashness, there are moments in the show when his personality's softer side is on display. Like when he loses the only friend he is left with to a political maneuver or when he falls for his own wife because she accepts him, despite his flaws.
This is also why Divyendu manages to slightly tower over other actors, even though most actors in the show did complete justice to their roles. Because of the sheer range of emotions that he expresses, in a span of seconds.
It's especially commendable that Divyendu holds his own when sharing screen space with Pankaj Tripathi, who is the king of layered performances and speaks volumes with his expressions.
Simply put, while most characters are out to exact revenge or expand their business, Munna Bhaiya is out to fulfill his own desires. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less. As he claims, 'Hindi picture ke hero se kam nahi hain hum'.
For an actor who was relegated to the 'hero ka dost' role, this feels like an apt summation. Because he may be the villain, but his screen presence has certainly been heroic.