ZEE5 Original 'Rangbaaz': A riveting journey into the '90s Gorakhpur underworld

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

The emergence of OTT platforms is fast changing India's entertainment horizon. While today we have a lot of OTT platforms at our disposal, when it comes to content truly representing India's socio-cultural milieu, ZEE5 seems to be leading the brigade. The latest ZEE5 Original to have released on the OTT platform is Rangbaaz.
Rangbaaz transports us back to the 1990s, bringing us face to face with the '90s Gorakhpur underworld in all its lurid glory. The series follows the rise of Shiv Prakash Shukla as he becomes the most feared gangster of Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s. Rangbaaz also explores the unholy nexus amongst the gangsters, police, and politicians with each vying for power and supremacy.
In Rangbaaz, the part of Shukla is essayed by Saqib Saleem with great poise and conviction. What's commendable is how well Saleem manages to show us the vulnerable side of Shukla. His multilayered portrayal helps us understand why everybody feared a 25-year-old gangster like Shukla so much. Rangbaaz also stars Tigmanshu Dhulia, Ravi Kishan, Ranvir Shorey, and Aahana Kumra in pivotal roles. While Dhulia, Shorey, and Kishan deliver some of their best performances in recent times, the real surprise package here in Kumra. Many of us would remember her from the TV series Yudh but ever since Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha, Kumra has really evolved as a performer. In Rangbaaz we get to see her in a very interesting role which in many ways is easily the best of her career.
Tigmanshu Dhulia in Rangbaaz
Rangbaaz stands apart from the series of crime based content on offer as it is based on a real character and the events surrounding him. The series is shot in a very realistic way and the action scenes really pack a punch. In recent times, the quality of action choreography in Indian films and series has improved by leaps and bounds. And it's not just about the quality but also the scale has gone up tremendously. Earlier owing to various constraints of budget and technology we couldn't film complex action scenes involving a large number of characters but today all that has changed. Of course, the budgets today are designed keeping in mind the overall intensity that needs the be achieved. And it wouldn't be a hyperbole to say that Rangbaaz is right up there with the best we have seen so far.
It's indeed very heartening to see crime stories from the Indian hinterland finally getting the attention that has eluded them over the years. Mumbai crime underworld has already been done to death. It caught everyone's imagination after Satya became such a huge success back in the late 1990s. A strong series like Rangbaaz with its focus a '90s gangster based out of Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur is both refreshing and unique.
If you like the crime genre and are looking for something new then you certainly cannot afford to miss Rangbaaz.
Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

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