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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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