Rangoon Movie Review: Failings of A Masterpiece

Rangoon Movie Review

Rangoon Movie Review

Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest flick, Rangoon has been 11 years in the making now. Slated for production right after his highly acclaimed hit, Omkara, this movie has broken past many hurdles to find its place at the box office. Even since the start of shoot in November 2015, Rangoon had run up against many roadblocks. And now that it has hit the silver screen, is this period piece worth your wallet? Let’s find out.

Movie – Rangoon

Starring – Kangana Ranaut, Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Richard McCabe, Alex Avery, Satoru Kawaguchi

Directed by – Vishal Bhardwaj

Produced by – Vishal Bhardwaj, Ashish Paul

Production House – Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, VB Pictures

Written by – Vishal Bhardwaj, Matthew Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan

Music by – Vishal Bhardwaj

Cinematography – Pankaj Kumar

Edited by – Aalaap Majgavkar

Duration – 2 hours 47 minutes

Censor Rating – U/A

Vishal Bhardwaj is undoubtedly a master storyteller. His interpretation of human emotions and subtler instincts make him one of the highly acclaimed directors of tinsel town. He elevates his characters and we have come to expect an entirely different level of histrionics from his films.

Bhardwaj picks out themes that fit the subversive thread that runs through most of his films. But it is in the success of his offbeat ventures that we find great failings as well. Blotched scripts and incomplete explorations have kept him from achieving artistic climax. Rangoon is another stepping stone in the director’s sojourn and despite its cinematographic brilliance, the film remains far from being a masterpiece.

The Plot

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Rangoon tells the tale of two men – billionaire producer Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) and a young British soldier Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapur). Caught between them is Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut); a bold, beautiful and an appealing young woman. Julia’s character was inspired by the iconic Fearless Nadia – that isn’t any secret after the litigation Rangoon faced. But Ranaut does add her indelible touch to the role of this action heroine who is bought by Billimoria and is eventually sent to the Indo-Burma border, with Malik as her escort. The love triangle between the three could have been the highlight of the film.

The film could also have been about the gripping conflict of ideologies that the country was facing at the time – between the British, who were struggling to maintain their colonial legacy and Indian freedom fighters, who were fighting back; and another between the pacifists, who believed in Ahimsa and the likes of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who was busy building his Indian National Army.

Ultimately, we aren’t sure which plot to focus on as the director himself seems torn between his desire to produce a standard Bollywood romance and an intense war drama. Rangoon is the story of Bhardwaj’s lofty but failed ambitions to walk a tightrope.

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The Performances

Kangana is indeed the “toofaan ki beti“. Rangoon is the perfect platform for her to demonstrate that she can be anything she wishes to – from child-woman to sexy siren, from dauntless action artist to a spirited young girl, from an “untouchable” to a seductress! Saif’s controlled acting and Kapur’s physique are both attractive, but the Kangana-Kapur romance is like a fire gone damp.

The song and dance sequences are immensely enjoyable, thanks to the wonderful choreography by Farah Khan and Sudesh Adhana.

The hero of Rangoon is – hold your breath – Pankaj Kumar. The cinematography can only be described as brilliant.

The Music

Coming from Bollywood music maestros such as Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar, one can only expect a soulful but vibrant bouquet of numbers. On this lone count, Rangoon doesn’t disappoint one bit.

Soundtrack Singer (s) Duration
Rangoon Theme Instrumental 1:31
Bloody Hell Sunidhi Chauhan 4:12
Yeh Ishq Hai Arijit Singh 4:40
Yeh Ishq Hai Rekha Bhardwaj 4:44
Mere Miyan Gaye England Rekha Bhardwaj 3:47
Tippa Sukhwinder Singh, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sunidhi Chauhan 5:44
Ek Dooni Do Rekha Bhardwaj 3:57
Alvida Arijit Singh 5:03
Julia Sukhwinder Singh, K.K, Kunal Ganjawala 5:52
Chori Chori Rekha Bhardwaj 2:53
Be Still Dominique Cerejo 3:08
Shimmy Shake Vivienne Pocha 2:26

Lekha Washington penned the lyrics of two numbers – Be Still and Shimmy Shake.

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Our Verdict

Rangoon is definitely worth a watch. It is not a movie to be dismissed, but you certainly will not be swooning over its intensity or fervour either.

And, oh, do not expect any credible action in this “war movie”. But do expect absolutely delightful music.

Rating ***