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2 OTT Hardhitters On Zee5 You May Have Missed

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Rangbaaz Phirse(Zee5)

Rangbaaz Phirse(Zee5):Bullet-ridden  biographic  sketches  of hardcore criminals in  North Indian  exploring the genesis  of their outlawry…that seems to be the  brief for  the Rangbaaz series  which is now on to Season 2.Bring on the bullets  and  bloodshed.Much  of it  may seem  like  a repeat of Season 1.Promising  academically- inclined  youngster  from the  cow belt turns to a life of crime supported by local politicians….In  Rangbaaz  the well-played  role of the outlawed Shiv Prakash Shukla(Saqib Salim) was  sturdily  supported  by  two powerful politician-criminals  played  by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Ravi Kissan.

In  Rangbaaz Phirse we get Jimmy Sheirgil as  the  protagonist whose dreams  of becoming a civil servant are smothered  by an uncivil  life of  criminality . Sheirgil is an actor who can breathe  life into the ‘deadest’ of roles.  Writer Siddharth Mishra  provides  plenty  of  raw meat  for Jimmy to to chew on. He gets to play the entire spectrum from  ruthless(with his adversaries) to tender(with his wife and daughter).Jimmy’s  stolen moments  with his screen wife(Spruha  Joshi,  quiet understated  mollifying) are special. They  also have the unfortunate side effect of over-humanizing  the   criminal-hero, showing him to be  a routine  family man forced  into a life  of  crime by corrupt politicians and a system of  governance that favours the rich and  powerful.So basically all that killing and looting is our fault.

 As a morally conflicted cop Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub has a  more complex part to play.The  uncomfortable  truth  about  ‘encounter’ killings and  how senior cops  are bullied by  politicians into subverting the law , are also  brought up in the  series. But nothing  overly probing. We can say  ,  the  investigation of the  politician-cop-criminal nexus in the series is as  skindeep as the  investigations that happen every time  there is an alleged encounter killing  in  a godforsaken part of  our beloved  country.

And  yet for all its sins of skimpiness  Rangbaaz Phirse keeps the interest-level alive even as  most of  the cast drops dead.While Sheirgil confers a  kind of distant tragic  dignity  to his  outcast’s role, the supporting cast specially Mohammad Zeeshan, Sushant Singh  and Sharad Kelkar provide  solid support with their  habitual  propensity to go beyond  the written word.

Zeeshan’s cop character provides an  alternative  voiceover to Jimmy’s anti-hero’s commentary  . Dare  we suggest  that this merger of voices  from both sides  of the law is meant to show how closely crime and  the law are connected in our country? Clearly  the script favours  shortcuts, The  Jat versus Rajput caste politics in Rajasthan is played out at a low ebb. The crux of  the  sprawling saga is to create  a splashy gangster  drama .And that is not such a  bad thing.

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Kaafir” (ZEE5): Kashmir and its blood-soaked political history renders itself well to cinematic treatment. It is to the credit of the makers of this series that not a moment of the eight episodes feels exploitative or artificial.There is a free flow to the narrative and the main characters are written into the plot organically. Both Mohit Raina and Dia Mirza do well in their respective roles of the Kashmir-based lawyer-journalist searching for truth that may destroy his life, and the mysterious woman from Pakistan who has drifted into India and has been languishing in prison for years with no hope of being released.That’s where the lawyer’s dormant skills kicks in.

“Kaafir” is a series with plenty of heart. Writer Bhavani Iyer has researched her subject of Kashmiri militancy. The series never lets the weight of its political theme sit heavily on the narration. If anything, the series is guilty of swimming too lightly on the surface, making the protagonist Kainaat’s predicament seem far less grim than it actually is.

Though she is shown to go through her share of hardships, the trajectory of terror and redemption is cleaned out, sanitised and rendered palatable. And that’s not such a bad thing. Unless you are seeking to see a raw hard-hitting depiction of the subversion of the legal justice system, as shown in the Oprah Winfrey-backed crime drama “When They See Us”.

The world of “Kaafir” is violent but far more manageable and fictionalised than one would expect in a series with no censor breathing down its neck. It also seems to backtrack from its purpose of exposing the authoritarian abuse of militancy as a means to oppress people who protest too much.

“Kaafir” has an easy even-tempered feel to it. The relationship that grows between the incarcerated Pakistani woman and her troubled guilt-stricken lawyer has no new insights to offer into the world of militancy. Or, for that matter, the world love which we are told, heals. That apart, it’s easy to invest some hours in Kainaat’s story.”Kaafir” doesn’t let us forget that.

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