In conversation with Saqib Saleem

ZEE5 launched Rangbaaz, an action-packed show directed by Bhav Dhulia, written by Siddharth Mishra and produced by JAR Pictures. Set against the rustic background of India’s heartland, the UP of the 90s, Rangbaaz revolves around the story of Shiv Prakash Shukla, played by Saqib Saleem. It revolves around a man engaging in the dark and dirty world of crime and shows the human side of one of the most feared gangsters of the region from the ’90s.

Saqib, who is known for Race 3, Dishoom and Mere Dad Ki Maruti, gears up for his digital debut with Rangbaaz.

Talking about his character in the series, Saqib shares, “Rangbaaz is a story which is set in UP. The character I play in Rangbaaz is called Shiv Prakash Shukla. The guy has a lot of layers and I got to know that when Bhav, the director, and Siddharth Mishra, the writer, came to me with the script and narrated the episodes to me. I instantly fell in love with the character because I was getting to play a gangster. I don’t know if people are aware, but I have always wanted to play a gangster. Not for any other reason but that I wanted to understand the psyche of a guy whose sense of right and wrong is very different from who I am. As an actor, it has been a completely satisfying experience working on this creatively, to be able to do something like this at this point in my career.”

He further adds, “We have shown the human side of a gangster’s life. There have been a lot of shows in this space with similar content, but I can confidently say that our show’s voice is different. There have been shows like Mirzapur and Sacred Games, but we have a different side to our story. So I hope when people watch this, they also enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

The actor feels that web is a great space for an actor. “Web is the best platform at the moment. The content is exhilarating as an audience to be able to consume such content; and as an actor, if you ask me, it is a great space to be.”

When asked how he fit into the character of a gangster for the series, he avers, “I am an actor and I have been given a material, so I just did it with dedication. I had great co-actors on set, Ranvir and Aahana, for example, who pushed me to do better. We had a great team and they helped me perform better.”

As an end note, he says, “Rangbaaz is a plot-driven show. The easy way out would be to put 200 bad words, 50 sex scenes and so on; but we have used no such ploy. We have tried to show a story and I hope audiences like it.”

Good luck, Saqib!

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