Mirzapur 3 premiere recap: brains vs brawn

In episode 1, Guddu is the new king of Mirzapur, but the throne may not be his for long.

Akhil Arora, a member of the Film Critics Guild and a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, who has watched all 10 episodes of Mirzapur season 3. He has been reviewing TV series since 2015 and has written for NDTV and SlashFilm.

Golu Mirzapur season 3 episode 1
Shweta Tripathi Sharma as Gajgamini “Golu” Gupta in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1 // Photo: Prime Video

The second season of Mirzapur fulfilled Guddu’s (Ali Fazal) ultimate aim: to become the main man in Mirzapur. So, what now? The first episode of Mirzapur season 3—directed by Gurmmeet Singh and written by Apruva Dhar Badgaiyan—sets the stage for what’s to come. It’s a battle of wits between Guddu and the ruler of Jaunpur, Sharad Shukla (Anjumm Shharma). Throughout the episode, Golu (Shweta Tripathi Sharma) advises Guddu that he needs both brains and brawn for this next stage of the game. Sure, you’ve got the throne but it’s another thing to keep it. Sharad is already laying the foundation to push him off. He’s doing exactly what Guddu refuses to—and he’s hoping that he can use Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi), if or when he does wake up, to his cause.

Mirzapur season 3 episode 1 opens with Munna Tripathi’s last rites at a crematorium. The pandit asks for a man from the family to step forward, as is the patriarchal custom. But there’s no one left, so his widow and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Madhuri Yadav (Isha Talwar), takes the lead. Munna is incinerated—you’ll never get a bigger confirmation of a character’s death. Outside, the press has gathered and is shouting at the top of their lungs, with no respect for the delicate moment. Madhuri indicates she wants to say something but her personal assistant, Anand (Rohit Tiwari), points in the direction of the car. She decides to do so, anyway.

Madhuri is a natural-born leader. She uses the opportunity in episode 1 to generate sympathy for herself and claims she’s been chosen by the people though that never actually happened. She hasn’t won any election. Like any smart populist leader, she then calls everyone her family. She’s going to make sure the people who did this pay for it. She’s going to wipe the state clean—state, mind you, not slate—while staying within the law. Of course, it’s a sham. Privately, she tells Anand that her aim isn’t just to kill Guddu but to destroy all of Mirzapur—the seat of power, itself.

Over at a local court in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1, Guddu’s father Ramakant Pandit (Rajesh Tailang) plainly admits to the murder of the cop he killed to save his son in season 2. The prosecution lawyer (Rati Shankar Tripathi) claims he’s trying to generate sympathy. This wasn’t culpable homicide but a cold-blooded murder to protect the business interests of his son. Rather, his criminal activities, the lawyer corrects himself. The judge doesn’t ask for any evidence to support that claim and sends Ramakanth into judicial custody.

Guddu stops the police caravan as it’s headed to jail in episode 1. That is the level of power he now commands in Mirzapur. He implores his father to at least fight the case—for his wife and daughter, if not for himself. As he used to say, “Not proven till not guilty”. It’s dumb but it’s funny. Ramakant corrects him but Guddu is oblivious. Ramakant says he has decided his path. When Guddu reminds him that he’s headed for the gallows, the father turns the question on the son. Control, power and respect, Guddu hits back, more to himself than to Ramakant.

Back in Lucknow in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1, Sharad pays a visit to Madhuri and offers his support. He plays on the fact that they are both alone. Sharad lost his father and Madhuri has lost both her father and her husband. Munna was there for him when he had no one. He’s just here to tell her that he’s there if she needs him. Madhuri says that her plan to eradicate Uttar Pradesh of its ills will also include him—he won’t get any favours. As he’s leaving, he tries to figure out if she knows anything about the whereabouts of Kaleen Bhaiya. Madhuri senses that Sharad might know more than he’s letting on and glances at Anand.

Over in Azamgarh in episode 1, Golu is searching for the injured Kaleen Bhaiya. But she ends up with a false positive—it’s some other injured guy being treated by a doctor. Moments later, another guy comes barging in. She settles the problems of the feuding cousins before running into the town’s enforcer, Uma Dutt (Shyam Kishore). Golu says she’s here on Guddu’s orders, but Uma doesn’t care about that at all. He beheads Golu’s informant (Aditya Verma) in front of her and warns her not to return. Whether Guddu runs Purvanchal will be decided, he says, at a meeting of all the regional leaders. It’s a clear signal that Guddu and Golu may have dethroned the old king, but no one is taking them seriously just yet.

Meanwhile, back in Mirzapur in season 3 episode 1, just as his father had asked him, Guddu goes to the police station, retrieves his dad’s scooter and drops it off at the family home. Guddu tells his mom (Sheeba Chaddha) that he’s decided that they will live with him from now on. Vasudha (Chaddha) says he’s right—the family should live together, and this is their home. Guddu tries a couple more tactics—he says she and his sister are his responsibility now. But Vasudha says she’s not going anywhere. He then it’s for their own protection. But she notes that she’s the mother of the guy who runs Mirzapur. Who will dare touch her?

At the Chief Minister’s residence in Lucknow in episode 1, IG Vishudhanand Dubey (Manu Rishi Chadha) tells Madhuri they can invent enemies for Guddu. He’s a gangster after all. Madhuri gives him a free hand in how to execute the operation. She then wonders if he’s heard any whispers of Kaleen Bhaiya. Dubey says he has no knowledge before unnecessarily noting that criminals usually end up hiding somewhere to reduce the heat on them after a big move. Madhuri reminds him that Kaleen Bhaiya is also a government minister. Dubey could do well to hold his tongue.

At the Tripathi manor in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1, Beena Tripathi (Rasika Dugal) tells Golu that she needs to stop throwing darts in the dark. If she’s going to find Kaleen Bhaiya, she’ll need to take time and think of a new strategy. Golu notes they don’t have time because of the upcoming meeting. The criminal leaders of West Uttar Pradesh have issued an edict. They are sending someone who will help mediate and conduct the election of Purvanchal’s next chief. (Purvanchal is the state’s easternmost section. The house help notes that this is how it’s usually done and that eastern folks have gone to the west in the past to help them in a similar fashion. It’s a smart way of injecting necessary exposition.)

Guddu Mirzapur season 3

Mirzapur season 3 cast — the full list

The Pandits, the Tripathis, and all the other major clans return for the third season of Mirzapur. It’s time for a refresher.

Without Kaleen Bhaiya’s body, it will be tough for them to establish control, Golu says in episode 1. Beena notes that she wouldn’t have survived for so long if she had just one plan. At night, when the news is relayed to Guddu, he’s annoyed. Why is the West meddling in the affairs of the East? Guddu feels they can settle it on their own. (Is this some kind of commentary on how India’s politicians routinely invoke “internal matter” on subjects they don’t wish to discuss with international partners? If it’s intentional, I’m impressed.) Beena and Golu note that Guddu must speak to the other leaders of the region and consolidate his power. But Guddu rebuffs it. He wants all of them to come to him instead and prove their loyalty. Those who don’t show up will be counted in the enemy column. Yikes.

Meanwhile in Jaunpur in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1, Sharad is doing exactly what Golu and Beena preached. He advises his men to chat with the regional leaders and generate sympathy for Kaleen Bhaiya. Privately, his mother Shakuntala (Meghna Malik) tells Sharad not to leave everything to the pawns. You must make a move, too, and she sends him off to see the mediator in Meerut. Sharad impresses Munnawar Niyazi (Ayaz Khan) with his intellect, prompting the mediator to ask if he’s ready to be the leader that Purvanchal needs.

Back at the Tripathi manor in episode 1, Golu lays it out for Guddu with the help of an underling, Brij (Sanjeev Sharma). Sharad is doing exactly what she had advised Guddu to do. Guddu is only interested in his own ideas. He’s going to make everyone pick between loyalty or bullet. Golu feels violence is the wrong approach. Even though they removed Kaleen Bhaiya, the pieces aren’t falling in their favour. The West and the East are part of the same state. No wonder they would desire stability. Golu and Guddu are new so it wouldn’t be good to deviate from tradition. They ought to attend the meeting of the regional leaders.

Brij notes that only one can attend from each region. And it’s clear that there are currently two cooks in the kitchen in Mirzapur: Guddu and Golu. Golu says she will wait outside but Guddu swats it aside. His leg has healed, and he can go on his own. As Brij departs, a glance from Golu to Beena communicates that Golu is not on board with how this is going down.

Privately, Guddu tells Golu that he’s not cut off for all this talk. Golu thinks he’s letting his fear get the better of him. Sharad is the only guy who dares stand up to Guddu. He will try to goad Guddu, so all he needs to do is keep calm. Guddu says that’s the very thing he can’t do. Golu notes that they’ve reached their destination, but the game is now different, and everything is at stake. To win this round, he will need both brains and brawn. When Guddu says Golu is his brain, she retorts that he’s not listening to her advice, though. This Mirzapur season 3 episode 1 scene is staged quite cleverly. Golu asserts her importance by interrupting his weightlifting, showcasing how even a tiny finger can do so much when it’s applied in the right direction.

Cut to a bloody animation in episode 1 as the leaders from 11 different regions—Azamgarh, Basti, Ballia, Deoria, Ganjipur, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Kushinagar, Madh, and Maharajganj—travel to Prayagraj for the conference chaired by Munnawar. With Kaleen Bhaiya missing, the question of succession is clouded. Sharad tries to grab power, but Guddu makes a delayed entry, pouring cold water on that idea. But it’s clear there’s a split, with some siding with Sharad.

Guddu says Purvanchal is his by right. He has erased all mention of the Tripathis, prompting Sharad to wonder if they’ve found Kaleen Bhaiya’s body. And we end up with what Golu warned Guddu about. Sharad goads him and they come to blows in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1. Munnawar puts a quick end to it, though. He notes it’s clear there are two contenders for the Purvanchal seat of power. He tells them to prove their credentials until Dussehra and adds that there shouldn’t be any bloodshed. Otherwise, his boss’ cooperation will turn into interference.

Outside—where Golu is waiting—Guddu and Sharad exchange a few more words. (By the way, is it just me or are these scenes in Prayagraj in episode 1 too dark to make anything out?) Sharad says all of Purvanchal will soon proclaim his name. Guddu wonders what, or who, is powering this newfound courage. For Golu, it’s obvious. It must be Kaleen Bhaiya. Sharad must have him holed up somewhere, in a place Guddu and Golu haven’t looked yet.

The answer? He’s in the neighbouring state of Bihar in Siwan, the territory controlled by the Tyagis. Vijay Varma makes a wordless appearance in Mirzapur season 3 episode 1 as Shatrughan “Chhote” Tyagi, who it seems has been tasked with keeping him safe. The doctor who’s looking after Kaleen Bhaiya tells Sharad that it’s better to induce a coma. Sharad tells him to take the risk and revive the Tripathi patriarch because he isn’t of any use in a coma. How soon might Kaleen Bhaiya return to the world of the living?

Mirzapur season 3 episode 1 is out now on Prime Video.

Stray observations

  • In the courtroom scene, right at the very end, the camera trains on a spectacled lawyer in the background. Who is he? Why do we never see him again in the episode?
  • When Munnawar calls the meeting into session, he invokes the name of Mirza Abbas Ali Mir. That’s the guy who runs West Uttar Pradesh. Any chance he will pop up later in Mirzapur season 3?
  • The episode 1 credits list enforcers from the following regions: Azamgarh, Balia, Chandauli, Sant Kabir, Khushi Nagar, Maharajganj, Siddharth Nagar, Sonbhara, and Varanasi. Those don’t fully co-relate with the map we are shown. Hey, Mirzapur, who am I supposed to trust here?
Akhil Arora