“July 5 should be named as National Binge Watch Day,” says Ali Fazal, who plays the iconic character of Guddu Pandit in Mirzapur. Ever since Mirzapur Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger, there’s been unreal anticipation for Season 3, which premieres worldwide on July 5. Viewers will be taken back into the brutal yet intriguing world of crime and power in Purvanchal where various contenders vie for the coveted Mirzapur gaddi.

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For first time watchers, the Mirzapur franchise is set in India’s hinterland and tells a gripping saga of power, revenge, ambition, politics, betrayal, and complex family dynamics. Following the bloodbath that was the Season 2 finale, Pankaj Tripathi returns as ‘wounded lion’ Kaleen Bhaiya along with Ali Fazal who plays Guddu, the underdog who ascended the throne in Season 2.

Pankaj Tripathi Kaleen Bhaiya Mirzapur Season 3

This season, the stakes are much higher and the canvas bigger. However, the rules are the same. All eyes are on the coveted throne of Mirzapur where trust is a luxury no one can afford. In the new season, each character is more layered and compelling than ever, adding depth to the story. We got a chance to speak to Guddu (Ali Fazal), Golu (Shweta Tripathi) and also the show’s director Gurmmeet Singh to understand what fans can expect in Season 3. Edited excerpts.

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What’s happening in Mirzapur Season 3?

Singh: Season 3 takes us along the journey of our main characters from the previous two seasons who are these young people who’ve gone through a lot at a young age. All of them find themselves in positions of powerwhether it's Guddu and Golu who are now at the helm of Mirzapur, Sharad Shukla (Anjumm Shharma) heading Jaunpur, Bharat Tyagi (Vijay Varma) at Siwan or Madhuri Yadav (Isha Talwar) in the political world. Season 3 is about whether they will be able to justify the power they wield and how they deal with it. Power does strange things to people as will be the case with these characters and that’s where the drama, fun and emotions will come from in Season 3— you can expect a lot of madness.

Shweta Tripathi Sharma as Golu in Mirzapur Season 3

What’s happening in Guddu and Golu’s lives after Guddu won the gaddi in Season 2?

Fazal: In a few words, our characters experience power, struggle, manipulation, action, and derangement. Our arcs are spread across a huge spectrum and that’s what we enjoy about each other’s characters, if I can speak for the both of us.

What was the first scene you kicked off this season’s shoot with?

Singh: The first scene we shot for Mirzapur Season 3 was set in the Tyagi household. There’s a dining table scene with all the characters in Siwan and I distinctly recall that being the first day of shoot. The scene had Vijay Varma and MM Faruqui aka Lilliput. That was the first one—a nice complicated family drama scene to kick off the season’s shoot.

The series and its characters have become household names with an almost cult-like following. How does it feel to be a part of a project that resonates with such a large audience eagerly awaiting its return?

Singh: I feel very lucky and blessed. I’ve been very fortunate to have been a part of Mirzapur and we have a lot of people to thank. This includes our cast and crew for being the way they are, our producers, also Prime Video for trusting us with such a new show, and our creator Puneet Krishna, who has written this mad world. Once the opportunity was given to us, everybody who was on this project has held onto it as tightly as possible so that no one takes it away from us and I’ve been no different.

Vijay Varma as Bharat Tyagi in Mirzapur Season 3

Tripathi: Every time we work on a new project, be it a movie or show, we’re always the ones asking people to watch the show and inform them about its release. With Mirzapur Season 3, it is the opposite; everybody else is talking about the premiere. I recently went to Banaras and everyone from cab drivers and temple staff to servers knows July 5 is near and have their plans made. Parents plan to get their kids to bed early so they can watch the show. Just knowing that people are so eager for the show feels great.

Fazal: On that note, I think it’s safe to say July 5 is National Binge Watch Day—it is about time we declare it!

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Does it create a lot of pressure to perform/create and live up to fans’ expectations, especially when there are so many widely circulated fan theories for a show as successful as Mirzapur?

Singh: I think the best way to look at it is as motivation and not pressure. We are very excited that everybody has an idea about what the show should be like and what the characters should do. The fact that they feel so close to the characters makes us want to be even more vigilant so that we’re not taking any lazy decisions when writing our character storylines. We make sure we put in that extra effort to go deeper into the rabbit hole and find things that surprise us; because only if it surprises us will it surprise the audience.

Mirzapur Season 3

Tripathi: More than pressure, there is a sense of responsibility towards the audience; they have given us unconditional and unlimited love. Even now, wherever we go people say arey hit hai Season 3 (Season 3 will be a success) and if that confidence is coming from outside then we owe it to them. That being said, when we are on set, all of us we perform to serve the story and its characters. That is how we began in Season 1, we continue to stick to that and stay true to the story we want to take forward, just hoping that the audience loves it like they’ve done so far.

Fazal: I don’t feel the pressure, we are blessed to have a wonderful cast who, I think, are soft pads we can all lean on without worrying too much. There’s enough worry in the script and a lot to deal with already.

Tripathi: Our director is Guru and DoP is Baba so Guru aur Baba sab sambhal lenge (Guru and Baba will take care of everything).

Mirzapur has a lot of blood and gore, what is it like preparing for those action sequences and what are some safety measures that the crew takes?

Singh: That is another exciting part of the show as most of what goes into it is new when we try it; a lot of methods are not readily available. A lot of credit here goes to Shipra Acharya who is the prosthetics head and of course to Manohar Verma who is the action director—they’ve been with us since Season 1 and they do a lot of tests for every sequence. They come up with their own inventions or contraptions to make things happen.

There have also been many funny accidents, I remember one time when they were experimenting with a fake blood pump in an office cabin and it blew up—the celling in that room was red from the fake blood for more than a year-and-half. We have also learnt how to deal with prosthetics over the years as they are difficult to work with in a country like India with all the heat. Safety is very important in a show that deals with a lot of action and Manohar is the safest action director we have worked with. He knows that the actors are his priority. Having said that, it’s also important that the actors themselves are very vigilant. They know that they need to be 100% focused during an action sequence and also watch out for themselves. We’ve learnt that accidents happen when we rush through action sequences so we give it due time and multiple rehearsals.

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What is a standout memory for you from the set?

Singh: The statue breaking sequence was a great one to shoot and just being in the midst of all those people who were being so supportive was a great feeling. Almost 500 to 600 outsiders stood there to watch us do our thing.

Fazal: I second that, that’s also the famous chauraha of Mirzapur so that getting demolished was - fun to shoot.

Tripathi: To add to that, while the demolishing is what was happening on-screen, we were having this very famous neeli lassi off-screen, enjoying every sip—it was so fun!

What's your favourite Mirzapur meme doing the rounds?

Tripathi: I really enjoy all the ones related to cricket, I’m seeing the ones from Season 1 and 2 and am very excited to see what they come up with for Season 3.

Singh: The teaser that came out with Bauji’s voice has been adapted into so many forms and the voiceover is being used in political videos, cricket matches, and even soap operas—I have really enjoyed watching those.

Fazal: I agree, the Bauji voiceover is a good one.

Mirzapur Season 3 will premiere worldwide on Prime Video from July 5. Go to www.primevideo.com to start streaming.