From the director who gave us classics like Maqbool, Omkara, Haider, etc – Rangoon is his latest venture which has hit the celluloid this Friday.

Genre :- Period Drama / Romance

Run-time :- 2 hrs 47 minutes.

Cast :- Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Shahid Kapoor.

Director :- Vishal Bharadwaj.

Plot – In the early 1940s, a battle is on between the two ideologies (Gandhi – Bose) to capture the imagination of the people. Meanwhile, Movie-Producer Rusi Billimoria (Saif) becomes beholden to the British for business reasons. This makes him send his love Action-star Julia (Kangana) to perform in front of the Burmese troops. Brit soldier Nawab Mallik (Shahid) has been given the responsibility of Julia’s safety. Due to unfortunate events, they grow close and passionate towards each other, giving rise to a lovs triangle between Rusi-Julia-Nawab with the war as a backdrop.

Direction and Screenplay :-

Vishal never disappoints with his direction.
With Tarantino-esque direction and Shakespearean story telling – Rangoon adds another feather to Bhardwaj’s cap, declaring him one of the finest and contemporary directors/storytellers of Indian Cinema.
This film gets most of the things right. But what takes a backseat is the shoddy writing, especially towards the end of the second half. What should have been a powerful punch, boils down to something that’s scattered, stretched and hasted.
The screenplay has been jointly written by Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan and Bhardwaj himself. Unlike the immersive writing of Haider or Omkara, Rangoon’s narration is more like a third-party’s POV rather than that of a participant. It makes you want to roll your eyes at scenes which were supposed to leave you moist-eyed or touched, in the first place.

Editing and Cinematography :-

Aalap Majgavkar’s editing is quite good. None of the scenes are yawn-worthy The slides are well paced and gel well with the storyline.

Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is innovative and grand, and despite the occasional weak spot in the special effects, the film looks freshly vintage and appealing.

Music :-

The music is by Bhardwaj, the lyrics by Sir Gulzar. They have an impressive rapport together: Haider, Omkara, Saat Khoon Maaf and Kaminey. Can the pairing be any better?
-‘Bloody Hell’ is a catchy track that grabs your attention with its quirky lyrics.
-The rejuvenating ‘Tippa Tippa’ and soulful love ballad ‘Yeh Ishq Hain’ and the melancholic ‘Alvida’ are the favorites.
-Julia is an empowering song with a femme fatale theme.
Other songs are average but good enough to make a place in your playlist.

The Highs

▶ The highlights in the writing has to be – Julia’s interactions with a Japanese captive and the bonding with the so-called enemy. An actuating try to mend the cracks that wartime creates. Sweet!

▶ Love triangles in Bollywood are usually been-there-seen-that types. But presenting the old wine in a new bottle is what Bhardwaj has an expertise in. The three characters of the triangle have been sketched out and executed so well, you want to see more of them. Each one of them is intriguingly gray and complex, you can’t take your eyes off them.

▶ Casting and performances. Right from the 3 lead actors to the supporting cast, everyone is remarkable and unique in their own way.

▶ The gritty war scenes, the use of CGI (except a few poorly done scenes), long-short shots, close-ups, costumes and background score take you to their world. A world of War and vigorously finding love. And you don’t want to come back until the 140th minute.

▶ In a time when Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land is earning accolades for using melody so aptly and beautifully – It gives us immense pleasure to note that songs generated by Bhardwaj and Sir Gulzar’s pairing, have always had that quality. It gives us a sense of the setting, tone and visual ambitions of Rangoon.

The Lows –

▶ The Climax. What could’ve been a take-me-home-with-you kind of climax, leaves you baffled and unsatisfied by the way things turn out. Half-baked and hurried.
(Believe me, I was all like, “Wtf Bhardwaj?” This is not what we’ve been yearning for. You tricked us!”)

Comeon, masquerading the whole film by calling it a War story? So not happening, man! You could’ve mentioned somewhere that this is basically all about Juliaaaaa. Also, the catchphrase “Bloody Hell!” has been used hell lot of times causing it to lose all the value.
It’s like an unfulfilled promise from Vishal Bhardwaj that doesn’t see the light of the day.

▶ The film’s most crippling blow, however, is the caricaturish antagonist, an Urdu-spouting British major (Richard McCabe) who inspires unintentional laughs instead of genuine menace.

▶ The fact that we expect a lot from a filmmaker of Vishal Bhardwaj’s pedigree doesn’t help the movie’s cause either. Had Rangoon being made by a lesser filmmaker it would have passed for a decent film but coming from Bhardwaj it can best be described as an average film.

Performances :-

▶Kangana is well-known as Bollywood’s very own chameleon who transforms herself into the character she portrays. And she is no different here. With such fierce physical energy and modus operandi of a unique sort, Kangana can give any actress a run for her money. Her transition from a femme fatale on screen (She is an action star in the film) to a gullibly sweet and vulnerable mistress of Rusi to the warrior-like zealous lover of Nawab Mallik (Shahid) is overwhelmingly impressive.

▶ Shahid Kapoor plays the righteous patriot Nawab Mallik, with remarkable responsibility and maturity, and his understated approach to the part is a treat to watch.

▶ Russi Billimoria, the conniving yet dapper (Film) business tycoon is brilliantly performed by Saif Ali Khan. He overshadowed both Shahid and Kangana with his acting prowess. It is unfortunate that Saif didn’t get adequate stunners to showcase his talent; The reason being either his poor selection of roles or mere laziness. But with Rangoon, he has swept everyone off their feets. He has perfectly captured the physicality with regards to the body language of a rich and hoity-toity Parsi from ’40s, and has also managed to portray the anguish of a man in love with a woman who is slowly slipping away in the arms of another man.

▶The friendly banters between Kangana and Satoru Kawaguchi (Japanese Captive) are a treat to watch, and Kawaguchi gives a fine performance.

▶Richard McCabe, playing the part of a British Major General, is at his wicked best.

Special mention to actor Saharsh Shukla as Julia’s afeem-smoking Man Friday Zulfi, whom one would have wanted to see more of. 

▶Other supporting actors like Alex Javery, Pooja Sarup and Atul Kumar give an adequate performance.

Watch o Not ? Well, Yes. If you are a fan of Bhardwaj, you should go for the period detailing, terrific casting/performances and seamlessly woven songs.

Verdict : Rangoon is a visual spectacle since Bhardwaj has delineated the Northeastern part of India like no other filmmaker. Coupled with stellar performances, dialogues and an enthralling 120 mins (I told you the ending is all messed up. Hence, just 120 mins. XD) of drama, it is not bad. If you overlook the goof-up from the writing department, Rangoon makes for a decent watch.

Ratings –  3.7/5