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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Trailer launch of Lakadbaggha: Hyenas, dogs and animal vigilantes

Trailer launch of Lakadbaggha: Hyenas, dogs and animal vigilantes

For many, the meaning of the word lakadbaggha was discovered yesterday, when they attended the trailer launch of the eponymous film at Cinépolis, Fun Republic, Link Road, Andheri, Mumbai. It means hyena. And I bet no Indian film has been made with this title, before this. It is produced by First Ray Films, the production unit headed by actor Anshuman Jha. In an amazing co-incidence, a film called Kuttey (meaning ‘dogs’, starring Naseeruddin Shah) is also releasing on the 13th of January, the date ear-marked for Lakadbaggha’s release. And guess what? ShahRukh Khan’s Pathaan (name of a tribe that originated in the North-West of the Indian sub-continent) is going to be unveiled the same day. So, if Lakadbaggha is about hyenas, or is the title symbolic? It is very much about hyenas, and dogs, and the animal smuggling trade, and a vigilante, or two, who foil the plans of the operations.

Present on the occasion were Anshuman, Ridhi Dogra (lead actress), director Victor Mukherjee, and Paresh Pahuja (villain). Media personality Meiyang Chang conducted the proceedings, which was a rarity. Chang is of Chinese descent, third generation, and a dentist by qualification, but speaks almost fluent Hindi and English. Anshuman’s wife was also present. He got married recently, and from what I guessed, the Caucasian lady sitting in the front row, was his wife. She did not take the stage. The film chronicles the encounters of an animal vigilante, his partner and gang of animal smugglers who export these creatures to foreign countries. The inconspicuous looking young man is an expert at Krav Maga.

Krav Maga (pronounced “krahv mahGAH”) is an effective, modern, and dynamic self-defence and fighting system. It is designed to be practical and intuitive for people of any age, shape, or size. The techniques expand on natural instincts to develop skills quickly and effectively, while enabling one to address attacks, under any scenario. Krav Maga (“contact combat” in Hebrew) was developed in the 1950s, combining the most effective techniques and philosophy from various martial arts and fight training. It was originally taught to the Israeli Army, and instruction for civilians began in the late 70s. Multiple forms of Krav Maga continue today: civilian (self-defence), law enforcement (arrest or detain), and military.

Playing the protagonist, Anshuman, who has a Bihari surname, grew-up in Uttar Pradesh and moved to Delhi, before coming to Mumbai, said that he had been inspired in different ways by Amitabh Bachchan, ShahRukh Khan and Aamir Khan. From Amitabh he learnt, “In the long run, everything evens out.” Aamir inspired him by his sheer commitment and focus and ShahRukh was a personal favourite. Talking about the release clash he said, “I have tremendous regard for ShahRukh and I have done backstage for Naseeruddin Shah’s theatre group, Motley. So, I hope all three films (Pathaan, Kuttey and Lakadbaggha) do well at the box-office.” Talking about his future plans, he said he has two more films, almost ready for release.

Trained in the US, with Tsahi Shemesh, trainer of Avengers cast fame, Anshuman revealed that he spent a month there, and was the only person training who had a slim body and weighed 60kg. He did put on about 3 kg, but that was it. Anshuman is not tall, so the weight is just about right for him. But during shooting, he got two injuries, including one on his head.

The action-thriller stars Anshuman Jha, Ridhi Dogra, Milind Soman, Paresh Pahuja, Eksha Kerung and Denzil Smith in principal roles. Lakadbaggha packs a punch, in realistic, raw style, hand to hand combat action and martial arts, but with a soul and a purpose. The central character of the film, Arjun is an unlikely hero, who learns from his father even as a child to fight for those who don’t have a voice, meaning animals, and especially indie dogs.

A heavy international crew has contributed to the film’s look: French DOP Jean Marc Selva, Belgian Composer Simon Fransquet and Action by the Ong-Bak team of Ketcha Khamphakdee. It also marks the big screen debut of Television and OTT star Ridhi Dogra as the female lead. The movie is the launch of a real life police officer and professional boxer from Sikkim, Eksha Kerung. The story narrative revolves around a vigilante in Kolkata who is searching for his missing indie dog Shonku, and, in the process, unearths the illegal animal trade industry at Kolkata port. A war ensues between the animal trade Kingpin and the animal lover vigilante.

Ridhi Dogra added Lakadbaggha is truly a special film - it has action, thrill but also a soul.  It is obviously special for me, since it’s my big screen debut as Akshara. And I can't wait for the world to watch it on January 13th, 2023.” The film is produced by First Ray Films, whose last release, the LGBTQ+ themed film Hum Bhi Akele, Tum Bhi Akele earned appreciation on Disney+Hotstar.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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