Rangoon Film Review: Multi Layered Mix Up

| February 25, 2017 | 2 Comments

Love triangles are always a tight rope walk, regardless of their backdrops. The dynamic emotions, changing inclinations and fickle likings are like a pendulum on steroids. It is an unwritten convention that love triangles work best with the stars. Therefore, so far cast is concerned, Rangoon has its casting right what with the reigning queen of emotion and spunk paired opposite reasonably well known two male stars.

Its circa 1943 and the World War II is in its pre-climactic pangs. Julia(Kangana Ranaut) is a stunt queen who can have her fans go crazy by just mouthing her favorite phrase: Bloody Hell. She has been mentored and groomed by a filmmaker Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) since she was just a fourteen years old teenager doing ropewalks on the pavements of erstwhile Bombay. Billimoria considers Julia his property. She is ever grateful to him for shaping her persona and career.

The Japanese are trying to defeat British Raj by propping up Subhash Chander Bose’s Indian National Army. So there are some soldiers within British troops stationed on Indo-Burma Border who are fighting for India’s freedom by being enemy within.Nawab (Shahid Kapoor) is one of them, who is also deputed to guard Julia as she visits the frontier to entertain the troops. All is fair in love and war. The metaphor is literal here where deceit, betrayal, intrigue and passion for the cause is reflected on two fronts.

Vishal Bhardwaj in his attempt to make it a layered tale, loses the trail midway. Mounted on a lavish scale with era of forties faithfully recreated and enhanced (full marks to production design) and beautifully photographed in the virgin locales of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam ( again thumbs up to cinematographer Pankaj Kumar),the story has all the elements of forbidden love, the choreographed action of war scenes,the behaviour of actors manifesting in incidents. In nutshell the craft is in perfect synch.

Vishal Bhardwaj as the co-screenplay writer, director, composer and co-producer showcases his vision and interpretation of an era with wallop and chutzpah.Still you keep on wondering why the movie is not connecting with you. Why you are feeling fidgety and flummoxed by the going-ons on the screen.Then the penny drops. Oh, its sheer lack of passion and chemistry between the lead artistes that is the culprit. A love triangle sans simmering or sizzling passion is love’s labour lost. The romance and even passion is clinical and not visceral.

Then the positive of production design and cinematography starts feeling like a minus because it does not make you stay engrossed in the story and begins to distract.The role of Indian National Army and aggressive ideology of Bose becomes a casualty. The backdrop confuses the ongoing love story. By the time this 170 minute saga ends you have lost all the interest. This time you realise its the rumbler of a screenplay and cop out climax that challenges your sense of integrity.

Kangna, Shahid have given SOP (standard Operating Procedure) performances. Richard Mcabe in the role of a British Army General Harding is reduced to being a caricature. Its Saif Ali Khan, with somewhat half-baked characterisation, who shines through while living through betrayal and changed loyalties. Cutting across all these is the major lacuna- the glacial intimacy and chemistry that plays a spoilsport.

War movies per se have been a big challenge, till date in Indian cinematic history.Except for Haqeeqat(1964) and Border(1997) nothing has left a deep impression on me. Though Hollywood loves,celebrates and enjoys making its war sagas. But this war draped love triangle is in a twilight zone. Its no Casablanca. Its more of a case of blank cannon (read sans emotions) fired from a state-0f-the-art artillery gun. That is a real betrayal in my opinion.


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Category: Reviews

About the Author ()

Dhieraj Mohan is Hindi cinema's keen observer. With earnest interest in its dynamics and constantly changing milieu he revels in dwelling on the discrepancies, idiosyncrasies,contradictions,masala and the formula that defines Bollywood.He is a poet and a screenwriter too,who simply adores Hindi cinema's chameleon like traits.

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