Rangbaaz: Darr ki Raajneeti season 3 on Zee 5 is a Vineet Kumar Singh show through and through. Playing the character of Haroon Shah Ali Baig, loosely modelled on Bihar strongman and former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, the latest season is a dance between ‘inspired reality’ and facts.
The six-episodes dramatise the political atmosphere of Bihar from 1989 leading to two decades. From the fodder scam to comrade Chandu’s assassination (Chandrashekhar Prasad), the season looks at many landmark moments of the era. Directed by Navdeep Singh of Manorama: Six Feet Under and NH10 fame, Rangbaaz may not be a Gangs of Wasseypur but it is impactful.
From a small town political ‘enforcer’ to an MP with criminal record, to someone who enjoys an almost dictator-like status in his backyard, the show looks at Baig’s regime in a refreshing manner.
Political thrillers and violence
In recent times, we have had many political thrillers, but Rangbaaz manages to stay consistent by not offering over-the-top portrayals despite showing a lot of violence and bloodbath. While the show makes jumps between timelines, it manages to hold your attention. The pace is slow but justified — needed to establish the story and the character of Baig. Rangbaaz is a nuanced glimpse into Bihar and the stereotypes associated with its political arena. The locations and attention to detail augment the narration.
The stealing of ballot boxes and rampant killings and the political rise of Baig, defeating his once mentor Dashrath Singh, is at once thrilling and horrifying. It is done in a neutral style, amplifying the experience of the viewers.
What makes Rangbaaz work is the pace. It is also supported by a stellar cast, led by Singh, who established himself with a breakthrough performance in Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz ,aces the role of Haroon Shah Ali Baig.
The near-biopic role gives the actor space to showcase the range he has, something you had a glimpse of in Kashyap’s film. From falling and confessing his love to Sana, played by Akansha Singh, to being a friend to Dipesh and the political honcho that he becomes, Singh is a delight.
Among the supporting cast, Geetanjali Kulkarni stands out. From confronting rioters with a gun to save Baig, the child, to being his mother, to asking him to right by Dhiwan (the fictional town where the story is set) where he wins elections, Kulkarni is top notch. She and Sana hold the humane aspect of the show that has no heroes.
Prashant Narayanan as the good in the sea of evil is also impressive. Rajesh Tailang remains restrained and effective while Vijay Maurya does his bit with finesse.
The plot twists, however, aren’t exactly unpredictable and that dampens the experience to some extent. But performances and narration make up for it. The gore is less, compared to a Mirzapur and for many, this might not feel as compelling.
Messiah to some and devil to the rest, Baig is a character with every shade of grey you can imagine and Singh brings him to life — why I recommend watching it for the weekend.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)