Allure of Morally Grey Characters in Mirzapur
Let’s all admit, we have a definite intrigue for dark and malicious characters. Their allure might be in the way they are written, the shock value and the blatant disregard for social norms.
When we talk about great antagonists one might immediately remember Hans Gruber from Die Hard (1988) or Heath Ledger's amazing portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight. But with the introduction and popularity of web-series many characters from Netflix or Prime have also joined this list.
In India, latest additions to fan favourite baddies would be Gaitonde from Sacred Games, Harshad Mehta of Scam 1992 and the whole cast Mirzapur.
It’s a known fact - Mirzapur has more antagonists than heroes. Maybe this is what initially attracted the viewers, the curiosity of how the darkness manifests and constantly gets worse.
The way the show's characters are written gives viewers a treat of vicarious corruption and power without the direct consequences of it.
Let’s look into some of these shady characters.
Kaleen Bhaiya is the mafia leader of Mirzapur. He is played by vetran actor Pankaj Tripathi. Kaleen Bhaiya is a strategic man who doesn’t let his heart rule over his head. He thinks of profits first rather than his ego, as seen from his ability to control his anger even when he is being admonished by people who he knows are below him. When Bablu and Guddu were entangled in a brawl with his son, he saw an opportunity in the brothers and exploited them until they became a threat and then tried to get them eliminated. He loves his son but still keeps him on a tight leash.
His son, Munna is his exact opposite. Munna Bhaiya acts first and thinks about it later, or in some cases never. He is a personification of utter anger, revenge and angst. His character is written around the complication of not being given responsibility or trust. These emotions might be what teens these days resonate to. His character development or in this case, character retrogression is his struggle from begging for his father’s approval to conspiring to kill him.
This was a very bold move, given it could shift the audience opinion from considering him as a morally grey character to downright chaotic evil. But that did not happen. After the thrilling conclusion of the first season Munna Bhaiya’s popularity only increased. Never mind the wedding massacre, at this point he could have triggered a nuclear war and the audience would still be rooting for him. In the final episode of season 2, Munna Bhaiya redeemed himself when he had a chance to kill his father but didn’t and this cemented his position as a loved morally grey character even after his untimely death.
So why does the audience like these characters?
Psychologically speaking, villains instil fear in our minds. Our mind's reaction to fear is similar to that of attraction. There is the same rush of adrenaline, endorphins and dopamine in both the cases.
Morally grey characters give us a safe space to explore our own darker sides. They help us relate with something or someone we hate and provide a means of catharsis.
So next time you find yourself wanting the bad guy to win, remember there might be a lot of chemicals in your head at work again.