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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Rangbaaz Phir Se on ZEE 5: Gangster saga shifts to Rajasthan

Rangbaaz Phir Se on ZEE 5: Gangster saga shifts to Rajasthan

Season 2 of the web-series goes live on December 20, after a highly successful Season 1, which was launched almost exactly a year ago, on December 22, 2018. It topped viewership ratings for ZEE5, and a sequel was logically due for the flagship franchise. The nine episodes of Rangbaaz 1 starred Saqib Saleem, Ranvir Shorey, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Ravi Kishan. Rangbaaz was a ZEE5 original, a crime thriller, set against the rustic backdrop of 90's Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, replete with politics, murder and lust, revolving around a young college-goer who turns into the city's most feared criminal. Rangbaaz was based on the true story of ShriPrakash Shukla, renamed Shiv Prakash Shukla in the adaptation, and played by Saqib.

Season 2 stars Jimmy Sheirgill, Gul Panag, Sharad Kelkar, Spruha Joshi, Harsh Chhaya, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Shaji Choudhary, Siddhartha, Mahima Makwana and Sushant Singh Rajput, and, as expected, is made for adult viewing. You can watch the first episode free, on the ZEE5 website, if you are above 18, have registered and log in. It is the story of a young guy who falls through the cracks of the society because of ulterior political agendas, and is robbed of his youth which fact subsequently ruins his life. This season will be based on the story of Amarpal Singh, a feared gangster of Rajasthan. It will revolve around his journey into the world of crime. A product of caste supremacy and political rivalry, Amarpal Singh's story is an unusual tale of a dream gone so wrong that it couldn't be corrected after a point--a dream of excelling in every field, a dream of setting an example in the society, a dream of being the best ever.

Written by Siddharth Mishra, an RJ turned writer, who wrote Season 1 (directed by Bhav Dhulia), it is directed by Sachin Pathak, who has worked either as an assistant, chief assistant or associate director in dozens of films, and gets his independent break with Rangbaaz Phir Se (again). Sachin has had a long association with noted director Nishikant Kamat, who would often let him wield the megaphone. Sidhharth Mishra said on the occasion of the release press conference, at JW Marriott Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai, on the 17th of December, that he still does not feel like a writer. “I can write, yes, but I feel that a writer is some strange species.” Pathak confided that he was nervous on the first day of shooting and played safe by shooting scenes featuring actors with whom he had worked before. “Once the first day went well, I was confident that the rest of the journey would be safe,” he shared. The occasion was designed to reflect the series’ ambience and the venue was renamed Amarpal Ki Baithak, with the invitees seated on rope beds, with mattresses and round, elongated cushions.

Jimmy Sheirgill, Sushant Singh Rajput and Spruha Joshi

Jimmy Sheirgill, who plays Amarpal, refuted the suggestion made by a questioner that he was in his comfort zone, playing a gangster once again. “Language proved to be a big hurdle. We spent a lot of time getting our Rajasthani right. My comfort zone is UP (Jimmy, a Punjabi, was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh) or Patiala (in Punjab), but Rajasthan is a different kettle of fish. In one scene, I had long dialogue and as we did take after take, my language floundered, till, towards the end, it sounded a dialect of Nepali! And yes, it is a gangster film, but there is least 15 minutes’ worth of footage in it that will tear your heart out. I’ll wager that if you do not cry uncontrollably in those 15 minutes, you could keep a pet dog and name it Jimmy Sheirgill.” Jimmy was looking dapper and much younger, with dark glasses and a boyish hairdo. No spring chicken, he is now all of 49!

Spruha Joshi, popular actress of Marathi films and theatre, and an anchor, was delighted to be in the series because she went to the same school as Sachin and the two are school friends, but she was also in awe of the star cast, which the compère for the afternoon described as “an acting school”. Sushant Singh Rajput commended the dedication of Sachin and recalled a scene where he (Rajput) was to react at the firing of multiple bullets. “Sachin stood behind the camera himself and kept shooting the (fake) bullets, just to get the timing and my reactions right.” On being away from the screen for some time, he commented, “I was getting offers that I was not interested in and the ones that I wanted were not coming my way.”

Rangbaaz is meant to suggest persons who splash colour, which could be blood, in the context. Asked if he had ever had a ‘Rangbaaz’ moment in real life, Sharad Kelkar reminisced, “Once some friends got into a fight, but I just watched. Suddenly, one guy pushed me. I told him not to mess with me, but he came at me again. So I slapped him hard, so hard that his eardrum burst. That was the end of Rangbaaz moments for me. I guess my personality says loud and clear that this is not a guy you mess with, and that has helped.”


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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