Vineet Kumar Singh plays the lead role of Haroon Shah Ali Baig aka Saheb in Rangbaaz 3 aka Rangbaaz: Darr Ki Rajneeti.
Last Updated: 12.01 PM, Jul 27, 2022
Best remembered for his grand debut Mukkabaaz in Bollywood, Vineet Kumar Singh is now gearing up for Rangbaaz season 3, Rangbaaz: Darr Ki Rajneeti. The actor was so involved with his character that he quit shooting for three months just to turn into this larger-than-life personality, Haroon Shah Ali Baig, fondly known as Saheb. Vineet spoke to OTTplay at length about his preparation process, how he feels OTT is in a better space than films in a way and his desire to work in comedy soon.
Excerpts from the interview…
Haroon Shah Ali Baig - is he a real-life character that you have taken inspiration from? Or is he a fiction of imagination? How did things come about?
This character is out of the writer and showrunner's imagination. He is very layered and has many shades. People call him Saheb fondly. His journey begins from a lower middle-class family. He isn't scared of anyone and is his own boss. He only wants respect. It is because of his nature that the conflict begins. He starts to look like Baahubali after one point. At the same time, he is very human. He reads books and has a great taste in music. He loves his family and girlfriend. People come together thanks to him. He also has another side - the gangster side.
This show is different from Rangbaaz 1 and 2 in that way. This gangster is also a politician. He is such that he can either build a government or bring it down - he is that important. He has great power in his hands and knows it very well. I liked the fact that I could perform to such an extent as an actor.
You made an interesting comparison with Baahubali. Why would you say he is like Baahubali?
He mobilizes things. The wind changes and you get a hint that Saheb will enter very soon. When he actually enters, everyone around him knows that Saheb is here. You get to see the different vibe around him.
Saheb's voice and the way he carries himself speak volumes. You do not have any other option but to surrender to him. He doesn't trap you but you give in. He will talk to you but you wouldn't have another choice. He is very charismatic that way.
While some say that Saheb is the devil himself, others are of the opinion that without Saheb, their life wouldn't be the same. They might have lost a family member or their property if Saheb didn't help them on time. So, Saheb has his own way of bringing justice. He wants to keep everybody's love everlasting.
Saheb is very insecure too. You will see such shades that you would wonder that this calm person, who has a stern personality, how did he change in a jiffy and where was he hiding that personality of his? Honestly speaking, the force that keeps Saheb going is very strong, which is why he is the way he is.
We all see him as the Robin Hood kind of character - almost like Ajay Devgn for Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. Haroon is a messiah but he is also pretty dangerous. Which side people want to see depends on them. What would you say about that?
Saheb has many layers, which is what I have been saying. However, his way of working and style is very different. Saheb is very soft and the most dangerous man all in one. He can go to any extent. Saheb has a different kind of calm. When you meet him, you will know. It is the magic of his personality. Saheb's habit makes him Robin Hood. He doesn't take efforts to be like that. People have considered him that way because of the way he is and the things he does. Some people defend Saheb, stating that he would have thought of something before taking the steps he takes. Sometimes even Saheb doesn't know that he is standing for the people who think that Saheb has helped them.
Does Saheb have a vulnerable side too?
Yes, in his 20s. The story pans over three decades. I divided it in three parts - 20s, 30s and 40s. I gained 10 kgs for late 30s and 40s. The early phase, when Saheb does not know how things work, shows his vulnerable side. His vulnerable side also comes out when he is with his family or friends. As Saheb grows though, there is a storm brewing inside him. When you see that, you will understand that a common man can probably not survive that situation. While anybody else might get a brain hemmorage, Saheb will smile upon the situation. He could sit in front of you and you wouldn't know the amount of life pressure he is going through. I felt that there's a lot of vulnerability during his 20s. Saheb is fearless and ambitious. He is also someone who doesn't shy away from responsibilities.
Haroon Shah is a politician too. As an actor, how did you tackle that aspect of the character? Did you have to understand politics deeply yourself?
If you touch such a character without preparation, then you won't be able to do justice to him. I would try to understand Saheb's state-of-mind because not everyone reacts the same way in a situation. I wanted to understand what his upbringing was like, what he has been through, what his childhood was like. Why does he think different from other kids? When I would get those answers, then I can move ahead with the character. Then I understand how Saheb approaches a character and reacts accordingly.
Once I understand the internal state of mind, then I come to the external bit. Why he has the body language he does or behaves the way he does, I understand that only when I understand his internal functioning. Inside-out is an actor's process. The way you approach it decides how the character will shape up.
For example, a footballer and a politician would have different style of walking. They work separately. Their muscles are used according to their profession, which reflects in how they walk and talk. Once I understand that, then I go in depth.
There are a lot of people who resemble Saheb. So internet helped with that research. I got personal experience on the table too. Then, I decide how would I approach the scenes. The rest is on the director but this is how I prepared for my role.
I stopped working for three and a half months before Rangbaaz 3 was going on floors. My body language changed during the phase. By the time I was on set, I was a different person.
If there is a quality from Saheb that you want in your life, which would that be?
He could be losing everything but doesn't let the stress reflect on his face. It's the other way with me. You will understand if I'm happy, sad or angry. I keep the vulnerability alive because that is the quality of a good actor. I want to keep that side alive. I am aware of that side and that is also why I stay away from people. If anybody comes and asks me, they will only get the truth (because lies reflect in my eyes instantly). I try to stay true to myself. However, I'm in a profession where you cannot speak the whole truth. So, instead of choosing to lie, I stay away from such situations. I would talk about my project and character but otherwise, you would find me silent.
So, I want that quality from Saheb. However, I fear that the vulnerability that I have will vanish. Maybe, I might be able to learn to balance between the two. I'm in the process of learning, so let's see where life takes us.
Have you followed Rangbaaz? Were you trying to be a part of the show since some time?
I wouldn't leave any opportunity when I prepare for my character. I did this all in the very initial stage. I saw it to understand what space I don't have to be in. Otherwise, it would be the same character with a different actor.
I wanted to approach the series differently since it is penned in a unique way. I didn't want to repeat anything. Since we're actors, we get impressions on our mind. I wanted to take a different approach.
I take lesser work so that I can make space for a better and challenging role. That makes me happy.
Vineet, you are one of the rare examples that anyone who aspires to be an actor, will be given an opportunity in films and people will actually come to watch you. That happened with Mukkabaaz. It is happening now. Do you find yourself fortunate for having entered the way you did, during the time you did? Would you agree with me here, because OTT has opened up opportunities for actors and people want to see these new actors, which they wouldn't have back in the times when there was only cinema?
There's a certain percentage of audience who is intellectual but they are in lesser numbers. They understand great work and artists but they aren't in majority. Right now, the crowd runs towards the person who makes the most noise. Very few common men understand acting nuances. Even now, the audience is very less.
There are actors who are great but they cannot grow to the extent they should. There are so many actors out there who are recognized as some of the best actors in Bollywood but their commercial value is close to nothing. Why is this happening? It's because the audience doesn't come to watch their movies. It's sad that the world audience can appreciate them but the Indian audiences cannot even come to watch their work. OTT has helped bridge the gap in a way.
With theatres, there was no screen available for such talents. 70% screens would go to an A-list film. The other films have to adjust in the 30% screens. Thus, the other film which has a great actor cannot succeed because there is not much screen available. That is when the audience cannot support them because they wouldn't know who is the actor and what has he achieved. This vanished with OTT. Here, if you are a talented actor, then it gives you the platform to showcase your talent. You get an equal audience. OTT is very democratic but the theatrical experience is something else, right? I love watching films in theatres. Watching a film with 500 people in a dark cinema hall is a different experience. With OTT, if you deserve space, you will be able to showcase your talent. However, even now, the audiences cannot understand talent till they aren't a huge hit.
In cinema, people only focus on the Box Office over art. I believe that is designed in a way that other films fail at the Box Office. These great actors don't even get screens. Ab 300-500 screen mein kya hi ukhaad loge? So, while Box Office is important, talking about better work is even more important.
In these times, foreign films are ruling. If they start dominating over Indian markets, we won't have anything to showcase the world because we didn't nurture our own craft. If we don't share our stories, then the foreign market will take control over Indian content. Thus, I would request the audiences to watch all the work done by good actors. When they get the opportunity like the stars, he would showcase his talent and blow your mind.
Did you ever think you would work with NH10 director Navdeep Singh? Would you say it happened too soon or took time to happen?
I wouldn't get anything before Mukkabaaz anyway. So, it is happening at the right time. When Manorama Six Feet Under released, I liked Navdeep's work. I met him back then too but at that time I was just another struggling actor. So Navdeep sir probably doesn't remember the meeting. I wished to work with him and it happened. It was fun.
We don't understand how things work sometimes but they do work out eventually. Rangbaaz gave me a lot as an actor. When I see myself perform, it feels good.
Who is on your wishlist at this given point of time? Who do you want to work with?
Rajkumar Hirani sir.
In a comedy? Or something else?
A social-drama. I want to do comedy. I have grown up in a joint family and comedy is a very important part when with them. Someone goes sarcastic, others do plain comedy. There is always something. I am yet to explore that whole comedy space. I want to do slice-of-life stories. That is fun. I depend on makers for that right now. I have played different characters thanks to my directors. However, I'm waiting to explore this space. My whole childhood was about comedy and I believe I can do justice to the genre. I have only played serious characters and so, people feel that I can't go beyond. My close ones know how comical I am. I will make a comment and you will be laughing all day long.
Your upcoming projects?
Another serious film (laughs). I'm just waiting to work in comedy. Sia, Aadhar and Dil Hai Gray - these three films are ready. The shoot of the films are completed.
Anything in web series?
Yes, I will start work on a series soon. It is nothing like Rangbaaz. The story is very good. The character is bolder and you will get to see a lighter side of me in that project. During lockdown, me and my sister wrote two films. I will explore myself as a producer and actor again with that after Mukkabaaz. I believe in being self-sufficient, right? So, while we wait for scripts, we will also keep creating work, right?