After you have watched Rangoon in its entirety, there’s one thing you are not sure about- if it’s a love triangle or a patriotic film. And that’s precisely where the beauty of the film lies.
The film that raised expectations right from the day it went on floors (Courtesy its director and Saif-Shahid pairing) lives up to them in just the way it was meant to be. Drawing parallels between love for your beloved and that for your own motherland at various junctures, this 167 minutes film leaves no chance to surprise you with the cinematic richness it offers by means of extraordinary lighting, impeccable cinematography, and great performances. However it does have setbacks, which makes it a recipe only for the class audience.
The plot set in 1943 in the Second World War times revolves around Julia (Kangana), a superstar in Bombay who’s in love with Rusi Billimoria (Saif), a big name in the film production arena. Their lives take a dramatic turn when Rusi is made an offer by British Army Major General Hardinge to conduct a couple of shows of Julia for the soldiers at Indo-Burma border. It is when that Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid) steps in as the chief security officer for Julia that the story progresses. What happens to the lives of the three protagonists thereafter and how the chaotic and violent situations of WW2 affect the relationships is what the film is about.
What is commendable about Vishal Bhardwaj and the team is that right from the beginning, they have remained loyal to the premise of the war (shown as the setting of the plot) and woven in love in it. By not doing the other way round, they have actually done something unconventional, for which they deserve applauds.
While the story of the love triangle is not unique and resembles the ones often seen in Bollywood before, the treatment of the war-times makes it an interesting watch. The screenplay by Matthew Robbins is balanced in a way that it offers enough spacing for both- war and love to flourish. Nothing has been hurried and nothing loses its charm. However, the pace couldn’t be maintained, especially in the first half- which at times might seem dragged for the masses. The second half with the revelations and unfolding is more emotional and relatable. One more thing should be mentioned- the climax has been made more dramatic than what it should have actually been.
Shahid plays the soldier in British army with full conviction. Also his scenes as the lover boy are marvellous. Hence proved once again- he’s the best when patted by Bhardwaj. Saif does his role with grace evoking necessary emotions. But he’s a far better actor than his role here. He’s underutilized. Kangana has a major role and she does full justice in what she essays. Be it the superstar, or an emotional woman concerned for her crew, be it a girl madly in love, or a responsible woman out for a mission- she shines in every frame. Richard McCabe as Hardinge is bang on. You hate him for what he does. Hence objective fulfilled.
Needless to mention here, the film has ample VFX to serve you right. But it also has some breathtaking locations of Arunachal Pradesh to raise your eyebrows in amazement. Pankaj Kumar with the camera is just too good to adore as he gives the film a feel that stays with you for long.
The music by Vishal Bhardwaj is ok. Just that. It fits the situations but is not very appealing. Except except except the “anthem of INA”. On the other hand, the background score is worthy of claps.
With references to raw stock usage in cinema, Hitler, Subhash Chandra Bose and his efforts, Gandhi, Churchill, India during WW2, Rangoon transports you back in time and with great colours, lighting, and cinematic vibrance- it gives you a chance to appreciate good cinema.
Wish it was a bit shorter and faster.