Rangoon: An Epic Mess With Star Performance

All thanks to 162 minutes of one of the most awaited films of the year – Rangoon.

A love triangle , a desh prem wala angle and that word I have come to dread… yes “epic”! So ambitious is the set-up that the only epicness I could detect was in the mess that it made.

rangoon movie

  • Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
  • Star Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut
  • Director: Vishal Bhardwaj

A period drama set in pre-independent India, we are first given a tertiary tour of a beautiful stunt woman’s life . Like “Toofan ki Beti”, the film that catapults her to dizzying fame, Julia is quite the wild child. Her patron, lover and an ex-action star himself, Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) is often seen making her sit on his lap to calm her disgruntled purrs.

Focus shifts to Burma and Jamadar Malik is entrusted with her safety. Desh bhakti ka jazba and Azad Hind Fauj make their cameos. Till interval nothing happens except for our silent prayers wishing for something worthwhile.

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.

Things do begin to look up a little after the half-way mark as the motivations of the characters take centre stage. There is a beautifully crafted scene here and a passionately shot moment there but the film never really comes together.

The actors don’t give us much to complain about. Saif is terrific as he brings his quiet Nawabi halo along. Shahid and Kangana peddle their wares and are equally brilliant. But the gaping holes in the screenplay make it a disorienting effort. Although the frames have captured luxurious beauty, the special effects and CGI are so tacky that they lend the film an unprofessional feel.

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.

Brilliant performances can’t save Rangoon and Vishal Bhardwaj’s ambition is its undoing.


About Neha

You cannot afford to not let me know what's cooking when it comes to Bollywood. I will be working on good things Indian and everything Bollywood. And as my avatar explains, I am kind of a loose nut.

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