Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
Star Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
What’s Good: Rangoon scores high on the visual quotient. Also, Kangana Ranaut’s Julia powers through the film like a true hero.
What’s Bad: Vishal Bharadwaj’s crowd pleasing antics clubbed with his ambitions to make the film a la Shakespearean tragedy, make it a complete mess.
Loo Break: Definitely, two to three! This is a long film.
Watch or Not?: Rangoon is no masterpiece. It fails to rise above Vishal’s imagination of cinema. Lengthy and forced, it is a confused war-love-freedom struggle drama.
Set in 1940, the film revolves around Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) a former action star, producer who is the man behind Julia’s ( Kangana Ranaut) stardom. After by her for 1000 bucks from an orphanage, Russi makes her an action star and now is her lover too.
Julia on the other hand is exuberant, slightly insecure and hell bent on becoming Mrs. Billimoria at the earliest.
After Russi promises General Hardings ( Richard McCabe) that Julia will perform for his army men in Burma, the lady sets out on her journey.
Thanks to an attack during their travel, Julia gets stuck with Jamadar Nawab Mallik (Shahid Kapoor), a soldier hardened by struggle after being a prisoner of war, now assigned as a bodyguard for her in the exotic jungles of Arunachal Pradesh. Love blossoms between the two and now Julia is stuck between her passionate love and her dream to become Mrs Billimoria.
In the meantime, Nawab Mallik has a huge secret to hide. Will it change things? Whom does Julia choose in the end is what is left to see.
Rangoon Review: Script Analysis
Vishal Bharadwaj’s Rangoon, has been one of the most talked about projects. We are well familiar with Bharadwaj’s tastes for making an impact with cinema but here, he misses the bulls eye.
There is a love triangle, world war 2, Indian freedom struggle and above all a poetic symbolism dealing with all the above that makes it chaotic. He tries hard to present a Shakespearean tragedy like Maqbool and Haider but none of it fits here with the oddly written characters.
At start General Hardings’ cracking Urdu Shayri in his British accent may have seemed funny but when it repeats for the entire film, it is highly irritating.
Julia’s character is strangely similar in her real as well as reel life. She’s a fighter on screen and nothing less when it comes saving her love off-screen too. Russi on the other hand is a confused businessman who is in love with his keep, gets easily manipulated by his family and is a servant of the Brits. His character comes across as the weakest.
The romantic angle between Julia and Nawab seems extremely hurried, forced under their trying circumstances and comes across more like a lustful encounter than love.
The dialogues have a typical Vishal Bharadwaj feel, with its depth.
Rangoon Review: Star Performance
Kangana Ranaut does a great job as Julia. She pulls of the character’s braveheart nature, insecurities and fearless loving with much ease. Love the portion where Julia is having a conversation with a Japanese soldier without understanding his language, it almost reminds us of Queen.
Saif Ali Khan fails to rise above the expected. As Russi, he has nothing but a stern face and an accented “Kiddo” (what he calls Julia as his lover) to offer.
Shahid Kapoor does a good job as Nawab Mallik. His flexed muscles, hardened soldier look, work its charm for most of the time.
Richard McCabe as General Hardings, gives us a hard time with his Urdu shayri, although, as a villain, who laughs with his enemy first and then kills him, he’s good.
Rangoon Review: Direction, Music
At one point in the film, we see two performers who are a part of Julia’s crew perform of skit as Churchill and Hitler. That’s the kind of commentary and presentation was expected by me when it came to Rangoon, alas it happens only in one scene.
Bharadwaj’s Rangoon scores high on its visual appeal in terms of cinematography but bad vfx cannot be ignored, especially liken the train engine smoke. Lighting and production design departments di a fabulous job. The recreation of war stricken areas is spot on, like the half burnt, broken church, Julia and Nawab take refuge in.
Costumes too are well crafted and compliment the era well.
One of the major misfits for this film seemed to be the zero chemistry between Kangana and Shahid. There’s little passion in their aesthetically shot love making scenes.
The film progresses at a slow pace all through and a painfully long climax is another setback. Music of film blends well with the setting and most of it being situational, work for it.
At a runtime of 167 minutes, it left me drained and dusted. Hopefully with the new cuts at 148 minutes, the climax will end soon.
Rangoon Review: The Last Word
Rangoon has grandeur but is a lost cause thanks to its multiple threads. Kangana and Shahid, leave a mark with their characters but do not help the film rise above its inconsistencies. A 2/5 for this.
Rangoon releases on 24th Feb, 2017.
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