Talktime | Saqib Saleem
After a great performance in Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge & Mere Dad Ki Maruti, Saqib is excited about ZEE5’s upcoming original web series Rangbaaz where he plays a gangster from the 90s. Sangeeta Yadav speaks with him about the challenges he faced
What prompted you to say yes to Rangbaaz??
When I got the script and research material, I was fascinated by the kind of hard work that had been put in by the makers for this web series. I fell in love with the story which is based on Shiv Prakash Shukla, a gangster of the 90s from Gorakhpur. The character is a departure from anything and everything that I have done so far. But the team was totally prepared and knew what they were doing. The opportunity to work with vibrant actors like Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aahana Kumra made me give a nod to this project.
How is this different from your previous characters?
Before this, the kind of roles offered to me were in some way or the other, an extension of me be it Mujhse Friendship Karoge, Mere Dad Ki Maruti or Dil Junglee. In these films I played a typical Delhi boy, fun loving and happy go lucky. This is the first time I have planned my performance and that somebody gave me a meaty role which has multiple graphs. The story reflects Shiv’s journey from 20-25 years of age. It may be just five years but there is a sea of change that the boy goes through — from being a college boy to becoming the most dreaded gangster. I saw that as a huge career graph for an actor. My only job was to give an honest performance. I also spoke to many cops to get some insights about his case.
Did this web series make you come out of your comfort zone?
Yes, it did! This is the first time I play a character which has no similarity with me. The sense of right and wrong for this gangster and the one I have in life are completely different. The character pushed me— be it dialect, body language and getting the gait correct. This would not have been possible if it were not for the Rangbaaz team.
How was your experience working with your co-stars?
Tigmanshu sir always says that he doesn’t enjoy acting but when he performs, it seems like he just loves it. He has so much fun on and off-shoots. Only an actor who enjoys acting can have so much fun like he does. Aahana is a chatterbox. There wasn’t a dull moment with her around on the set. She is the love angel in the web series which gives a break to this otherwise a serious story. I have worked with Ravi Kisan before in Mere Dad Ki Maruti and it was a reunion with him on the sets. I enjoy listening to his regales — his struggle of how he made the switch from Hindi to Bhojpuri cinema. He is a fascinating person with a good sense of humour. With Ranvir Shorey, because he is the cop in the show, we hardly shot together. But he is spectacular in his performance in this web series.
Was there a scene which was very difficult to shoot?
The climax was difficult to shoot as it was emotionally taxing. For this series, we were in Lucknow for 45 days. I have lived this character more than any other character I have played. There was a time when I was talking to people in Gorakhpuri. When you live somebody like Shiv for so long and have tried to become that character, then detaching from the role becomes difficult. Sometimes you do frivolous roles which have no soul in it, the attachment and detachment become easy. Before its premiere, I was so nervous that the character I was living for so many days will be exposed. It is a weird feeling but now is the time to let Shiv go. It is for the people to see and consume his story now.
How does Huma respond to after watching your work?
Huma and I are critical of each other’s work. Very few people tell you the truth. Huma and I had decided that we will be that one person who will give an honest feedback. If we don’t like something, we point it out. That’s how a sibling bond should be.