Exclusive: ZEE5 Original RANGBAAZ web series first episode review

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Here is the review of ZEE5 Original web series RANGBAAZ first episode starring Saqib Saleem, Aahana Kumra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Ranvir Shorey and Ravi Kishan.

What is RANGBAAZ all about?

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Directed by Bhav Dhulia and written by Siddharth Mishra, RANGBAAZ produced by JAR Pictures is inspired by real-life events, the nine-episode web series shows the journey of one of the most feared gangsters from Uttar Pradesh during the nineties – Shiv Prakash Shukla played by Saqib Saleem. The deadly gangster is alleged for committing more than 20 murders at the age of 25.


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The mafia wave on digital space that started with Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane’s near masterpiece SACRED GAMES based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui on Netflix.  While Kashyap’s Motwane combo was a desi tribute to the noir Popeye Doyle and Alan Chanier from THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), RANBAAZ what appears in the first episode is a captivating gangster drama that comes with layers. We have had Amazon Prime MIRZAPUR helmed by Karan Anshuman and Gurmmeet Singh. Unfortunately, the Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey starrer went overboard and extreme in its enthusiasm. RANGBAAZ in its first episode seems to be in proper control and command.

How is Saqib Saleem as gangster?

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Saqib Saleem in perhaps his dream role is having a blast as Shiv Prakash Shukla. Cool and menacing, adapting the intense poker face dialogue delivery idolize by Mr. Bachchan since DEEWAR that became a benchmark for other to follow, Saqib gives his own charm, vigor, strength and vulnerability to the core that creates an instant connection. The series opens with the gangster on the run and as it progresses, the back story of Shiv Prakash Shukla is infused smartly keeping the interest alive

Aahana Kumra

The beautiful LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA fame Aahana Kumra plays Babita – Saqib Saleem’s love interest and appears within the first minute but there seems to be an uncanny mystery around her aura. In the first episode, we see her celebrating her birthday and in conversation with his gangster on run boyfriend. Aahana Kumra brings that alluring raw mix of urban face and desi voice.

Ranvir Shorey

Ranvir Shorey is the cop who is after Saqib Saleem and things take interesting turns when Saqib manages to trick Ranvir’s web and crosses the state.

Tigmanshu Dhulia

The writer, director and actor will give a pleasent reminder of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR that’s all we can say now..

How is the making of RANGBAAZ ?

The first episode has given the impression that Director Bhav Dhulia and writer Siddharth Mishra have weaved a captivating gangster thriller that travels on the popular cat and mouse track but promises to infuse a dialogue on right and wrong, the dark and dirty world of crime, human virtues, circumstances and reaction of humans. Set in 90’s RANGBAAZ in its escapisms attempts to show the ‘real’ picture of India in those hinterlands and the changing attitude of youth.

What to do? Is ZEE5 RANGBAAZ worth watching?

From what I have seen in the first episode, RANGBAAZ is worth trying a shot. It premieres globally across 190+ countries on ZEE5 on 22nd December. The first episode was just loading of the gun and I hope after watching all the episodes, we all might repeat what the character Jules played by Samuel L. Jackson said in Quentin Tarantino’s unforgettable PULP FICTION (1994) that also starred John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman – Ah. That hit the spot.

(This is the author’s take on the exclusive screening of first episode, detail review of RANGBAAZ will follow suit when the series premiers on 22nd December.)

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