I crave for the mesmerising trio of Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar Saab and Rekha Bhardwaj on the big screen, but even their greatness couldn’t save Rangoon for me. Nope, nor did the gigantic sets, elaborate costumes and scenic locations. rangoonf-min

It’s a Vishal Bhardwaj film, so yes, expectations were high, but it’s a different kind of feeling. I, for one, *want* his films to do well. I have too much love for him and his cinema to criticise it, but as much as I tried Rangoon kept falling apart. The final blow were the last 20 mins. The movie escalated from illogical to bizarre. As much as I want to discuss the last 20 mins (because THAT bizarre) I wont, as I want you to watch the film. You may like it and show me why I should too!

The first half, the essential half, the one where you introduce characters, their motives and set the pace of the film – went by in a jiffy. Edit cuts were abrupt. There was barely any time spent with characters for me to feel for them. Can you believe it, I’m saying this about a VB film? The master of love and loss, unfortunately, couldn’t make me feel for his characters. Logic compelled me to understand what the writer wants me to feel for the character but not even once did the characters pull me into their world of love, war and deceit. I watched like an outsider.

Gandhi’s ideals, the INA’s goals, people for and against it, British India – all these concepts are simplified and explained very well. Saif Ali Khan aka Rusi is a film producer with a prosthetic hand that opens up on the press of a button. That added to Rusi. I’m glad that was thought of, because besides that very little thought was given to him. Saif, with whatever little he got to do, did a fine job. Specially in the second half, he’s evil, cunning, kind, helpless all at once.  rangoon1.jpg

Julia is the most annoying woman ever! I’m sorry, I love Kangana but her dialogue delivery was highly difficult to comprehend. Oh Julia looks gorgeous but that’s not enough. She dances weirdly, and what was sad is that she causes some serious damage to the narrative due to her stupidity. I hate it when women characters are made to do something silly, like while the goons are behind her in a chase sequence she stops to stay with her lover. I am a woman and I would have ran to save the country over a guy! Stop making women look so dumb!
The film is set on her, and she isn’t one bit likeable. 06rangoon-lead

Shahid Kapoor aka Nawaab Ali is the only man I’ve seen who makes a moustache look hot! Shahid has caught the part of being a soldier really well, he’s strong and soothing. I loved him the most. Unlike Saif’s character which is underwritten, Shahid’s character has no character of his own.

I’m going to mention a hypothetical story, you tell me if it seems weird to you too – Two people met at their work place. A boy and a girl. The boy’s job allotted by his boss- the girl’s boyfriend, is to constantly overlook the work of the girl. Obviously the girl doesn’t like him because he’s constantly on her back.
Now one day, the office goes for a picnic and this boy and girl get lost with a Japanese chef (for some reason). The girl wants to go back to her colleagues but is stuck because there’s a cake fight going on and they have to hide. The next day, the girl and boy get drunk over way too many rum balls made by the chef and start making out. The girl in a jiffy forgets that she has a boyfriend, she hated this guy 2 mins back, she met him 1 day ago. Just like that! ran3

Now Rangoon to me, felt just like this hypothetical story. It was superficial and boring.
The British guy who played the British Officer Barry delivered eye-twitching monologues in Hindi. There was no way I’d take a man seriously who spoke like that! He was so annoying that he even annoyed death and came back. He and the Japanese soldier were given way too much screen-time.

Look, I enjoyed the songs specially Bloody Hell and Yeh Ishq Hai. Sunidhi Chauhan’s cameo was cute. The acts that the troop performs to keep the crowd entertained were well done. Making of films in 1930s to the high-society parties, it all felt so vintage and classy.

But nope, I’m not buying that just because Julia does her own stunts, she’ll jump upon a fast moving train and do dangerous, out of character stunts.
Characters appear and disappear from no where.
But what got to me, was the sheer audacity with which Julia got away for her unfaithfulness. Rusi got no closure and the woman was far from apologetic.

rangoon-review.jpg

Watch it for the large sets, VB’s visionary India during the times of British Raj and the fascinating ways of film-making and entertainment back in the days.

Rangoon on IMDB

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4 thoughts on “Rangoon (2017)

  1. Sounds more like a comedy (a laugh at it, rather than laugh with it, kind)!! I am a great fan of Vishal Bhardwaj (in fact he is my favourite Bollywood director of today); it’s a pity this movie doesn’t seem that great. I was really looking forward to watching this, on the Big Screen (it’s in cinema’s in Sri Lanka, right now); but I think I’ll catch it on the small screen later; especially after reading this.
    You say, Kangana has been portrayed as a dumb woman; but was this intentional. This is based on a true story, on Bollywood’s very 1st stunt woman (which you haven’t mentioned). So I do wonder??
    None the less, very well detailed review!!

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    1. Hi. So firstly, yes, I intentionally didn’t mention that because her character is ‘inspired’ by the first stunt woman, not ‘based’ on her. Rangoon is fictional and it gets absurd in its last 15 mins. Having said that, film watching is very subjective. What I didn’t like, you may love. So for whatever reason, you shouldn’t not watch a film based on one person’s opinion. It didn’t work for me, yes, it didn’t at all, but I’ know people who liked the first half and found the okay the second half okay. And some, who loved it altogether.
      So yup. If you have the time, money and pateince, you must go for it! And let me know what you think of it.

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      1. Oh no, I didn’t say I won’t watch it!! I shall!!! But going into the city, in this heat and pollution, with the pathetic traffic, and spending money on an equally pathetic ‘frozen’ cinema (Cinemas in Colombo are frozen, they turn the A/C completely up, or switch it off, then it’s suffocating); doesn’t feel worth it. No, I won’t, not watch it, ’cause of one person’s opinion, but I just won’t spend money and time, travelling to and fro, to watch it on the expensive Big screen.
        Plus you’ve added some things in detail, about the movie, which do seem quite a waste of time.
        Most movies shown here are crap. When it comes to English films, it’s generally the run on the mill blockbusters that don’t interest me at all. No European, other Asian, American indie films, et al, are show.And when it comes to Bollywood, it’s very rarely good movies are shown. Watched Neerja last year, on the Big Screen. And when it comes to Vishal Bhardwaj, not a single one of his movies were released here, until now. Movies like The Blue Umbrella, 7 Khoon Maaf and Haider, are among my all time favourites, that I watched on the small screen, as they were never shown in Cinema’s here!!

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      2. Wow I didn’t know!!
        You can message me when you watch or want a general opinion about a movie (which’ll save you the hassle to commute and introduce me to a new, good film) and I’ll tell you if I watch a great film, that needs to be watched. Eg: Swiss Army Man, is so so great!

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