Rangoon - Review
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Boy meets girl. Uninteresting. But that changes quickly if the circumstances they meet under are intriguing. That the boy and girl fall for each other is a given. But their conflicts with the rest of the world can charge things up. Rangoon does this in fits and starts. That too is enough to keep you glued. The house of cards falls though when the story has to be wrapped up. The last 20-25 minutes of Rangoon are a fine example of out-of-characteristically abysmal writing. Something that was meant to break your heart, makes your eyes roll instead with a mind that's crying, “et tu, Bharadwaj?”
A story is supposed to answer a, “What if?” “What if Quentin Tarantino made Inglourious Basterds as a musical.” Rangoon, the film - not its story – tries to answer that question in the first half hour. As intentional as the nod to Tarantino is, this interesting and amusing “what if”, is not one that takes the plot forward. Then there are other musical pieces that remind you of Gulaal. I am not sure if that was intentional. But, the comment on the clash of political ideologies is apparent. And anyway, it doesn't take the story forward.
Now considering Rangoon encompasses a love triangle, a war of ideologies and the World War II, it is a lot of time spent on not moving the story forward.
This is why, the last half hour becomes a little more tedious than it might have been with fewer tangents. However, another way to look at it would be that the three characters who make the triangle are so intriguing that you want to see more of them. Each one of them is strong-headed. Each one of them helpless in love. Each of them grey and complex. Yes, surely we want more of them.
Of course, that wouldn't have worked out had it not been for the actors. Saharsh Shukla to Satoru Kawaguchi to the lead actors Kangna Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor – all are remarkable. The lead actors specifically make their vulnerabilities transparent to the audience's eye. The actors' eyes showing strength and power to defy that vulnerability even as they succumb to the ones they love. Yet, they are not clones of each other. Even if the intensity with which they love might be the same – if love can be measured at all, that is – the priorities change with time and situation. And because of the way it is played out by the actors, as an audience, you can tell how they are going to react. This has a feeling of being consistent with the character rather than predictable. The chemistry between Shahid Kapoor and Kangna Ranaut is palpable, that between the latter and Saif Ali Khan is appropriately cold or comfortable.
If you were to strip down the tangents, this story is about stunt-woman Julia. Sure, a character of such strength, especially physical, is usually a male in most films. That highlight aside, what made it even more precious is almost everything about the story is about two women – Julia and India.
Ironically, many a love triangle with two men and a woman are more about the men than the woman. Many a film about patriotism are more about the men protecting the country and very little about the country herself. The women on the pedestal are taken rather for granted in the story. A lot of Rangoon is about Julia, her experiences and her reactions to those experiences. There is a psychological undercurrent of her nomadic beginnings leading to an insecurity she hides within. The countries too are given some consideration, through foreign rulers admiring the rich culture, through acts on stage.
Other than that the non-glamorous war and action scenes (barring a few badly done CGI ones), the scenes without a background score, the music when it's there, the songs, the long shots and close-ups all take you into their world. A world strife with war. And yet looks like a beautiful scar on an otherwise untainted body. A war within which love finds vigour. A world where Vishal Bharadwaj tries to enter Shakespearean territory of tragic, complex characters - irrespective of whether or not he succeeds completely.
A world I would certainly visit again. Maybe with a pen in hand, even if imaginary, scratching off parts from the reel that would have made the movie crisper. Maybe coming back home imagining an alternate end for the film.
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: A war film, so loads of it.
- Language: Some abusive Hindi words spoken with a foreign accent making them almost unrecognisable.
- Nudity & Sexual content: A few making out scenes, liplocks and lip-to-lips included.
- Concept: A love story set in the midst of World War II and India's struggle for freedom
- General Look and Feel: The 40s done well. Gritty war scenes.
Rangoon - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures Pvt Ltd, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
- Producer: Vishal Bharadwaj, Sajid Nadiadwala
- Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
- Lead Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kangna Ranaut, Shahid Kapoor
- Supporting Cast: Richard McCabe, Saharsh Shukla, Satoru Kawaguchi
- Story: Matthew Robbins
- Screenplay: Vishal Bharadwaj, Matthew Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan
- Dialogues: Vishal Bharadwaj
- Cinematography: Pankaj Kumar
- Music Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
- Lyrics: Gulzar
- Costume Designer: Dolly Ahluwalia
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 165 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Action, Patriotism, Romance, Thriller, War
Rangoon - Trailer
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