‘Rangoon’ movie review: A moving exploration with brilliant performances

Directed By: Vishal Bhardwaj
Produced By: Sajid Nadiadwala, Vishal Bhardwaj, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Shahid Kapoor
Duration: 2 hours 47 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5/5

The  year is 1943. Second World War between the allies and the axis is shaking the earth with its viciousness. Meanwhile in India, an irresistible thirst of independence is secretly taking over many hearts. While a large number of Indians continue to be a part of the British Force fighting the Germans and the Japanese, Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA is spreading an infectious dream of freedom. Drunk on it, engrossed in it, the knuckled and joined hands seem to grow stronger and larger. Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Rangoon’ is set on a vivid backdrop of sociopolitical crisis. Writing a ‘Rangoon’ movie review is particularly difficult because the phrases often find it difficult to sum up what the eyes witnessed.

Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut) is a massively popular action and film star and also happens to be the fiance of Rustom Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), an actor-turned-producer. True, he loves Julia. But more than that, he owns Julia. He owns her soul, her vibes, her thoughts, her aspirations and what not? During the war, Julia is sent to Rangoon (Burma) to entertain the Indian soldiers and she meets Nawab Mallik (Shahid Kapoor), a jamadar of the same British Army.  Julia does not rediscover how untrue her own ideologies were, until Nawab saves her life amid a difficult circumstance  and they both fall in love. What initially looked a triangle love story, becomes a story of self-discovery, untainted patriotism and a journey of seeking truth.

From his Shakespearan adaptations to his sociopolitical dramas, Vishal Bhardwaj ensures you don’t watch the film, you live it. Kangana Ranaut as the woman with suppressed wills, Saif Ali Khan as a man tussling between what he wants to do and what he has to do are so perfect! Kangana will take your breath away with those sharp glittering eyes while she whispers ‘bloody hell’. Saif as well delivered a razor-sharp performance. After ‘Omkara’, this will probably be counted as his best. Shahid Kapoor never looked so subtle yet expressive in the past. He is in love, but he is on a bigger mission. He is torn inside, but he shows an iron face, until the time to break out arrives.

But is it just love? Just a war? No. It is war at the time of love and love during the war. The narration constantly challenges any comfortable conclusion. That is how the story goes on. Amid crisis, small moments of love crop up. At times, it is choking. At times, it breaks your heart. And at times, you just feel nothing at all.

Rangoon’ has small moments with smaller feels. The moments of romance are so real! Here, you kiss each other’s muddy face, wipe each other’s blooded cheeks and vouch to carry each other’s dreams. Could love be any more real than this?

Leave everything aside, ‘Rangoon’ is a thorough visual and musical treat. Shot across Arunachal Pradesh, the film is like a wide landscape across vivid scenic beauty. It is beautifully shot by Pankaj Kumar. Add Bhardwaj’s own extraordinary music to it. Not many would create so many moods in one story. ‘Tippa’ is filled with innocence, ‘Alvida’ is how the pang of separation feels like, ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ is love without boundaries. Not to leave out the quirk of ‘Mere Miyan Gaye England’ and ‘Bloody Hell’.

Having said everything, we did find a bit of continuity issues in editing. Some scenes just end. Sequences and songs could be in better sync. The ending might seem a bit dragged, but since the film is re-edited, you will probably catch a shorter version of it.

To watch or not? A strong yes!