Rangoon Movie Review: A Film That Could Have Covered A Greater Distance
As the end credits begin to roll, you realize that Rangoon is a film that could have been so much more. While watching this to and a half hour long film, there are many instances where you are truly immersed in some of the situations that are created by Vishal Bhardwaj. You want to applaud. However, at certain intervals there is certain slack factor that comes in and the excitement quotient sees a dip. This is what happens right through the film's narrative and eventually when the climax approaches, you do realize that Vishal did want to talk about a lot of things where some aspects worked and some left you asking for more. The film actually takes a good start. You are introduced well to the world of Saif Ali Khan (a film producer), Kangana Ranaut (his muse and an actress) and Shahid Kapoor (a soldier). The historical background of conflict between the British and INA during the World WAR II era is also set well without making it sound too complicated. There is further (unexpected) humor element added too by fourth pivotal character in the film, that of a British Major General [Richard McCabe], who truly loves the cultural aspect of India and everything that is Indian, including Hindi classical music as well as Urdu sher-o-shaayari. All in all, the stage is set and the leisurely pace at which Vishal takes forward the film, you do get a sense of a 'classic like' feel being given, especially when Shahid tries to save Kangana across Rangoon border while keeping a Japanese soldier [Satoru Kawaguchi] captive. This is actually the best part of the film as there is a different kind of bond that the trio shares, and at least 30 minutes of the narrative are dedicated to them. (Spoilers ahead) In the middle of this all, though you do wonder where the film is actually headed, you do not mind since each of these three performers [Kangana, Shahid and Satoru] come up with supremely natural act. Kangana brings in her inherent confidence into play, Shahid stays in a broody zone and is fine there, while Satoru brings in several light moments. However, what does come across quite abrupt is Kangana falling in love with Shahid. There is no real build up into play and when Kangana shares her feelings with Shahid too, the reciprocation comes almost in a jiffy. Basically, none of them fall in love, they just express love! This is the reason why when the interval point arrives, you wonder how the drama would actually ensue. Though re-entry of Saif into the scene pretty much signifies that there would be jealousy coming into play, as an audience you wonder if there is indeed a conflict since what actually took place between Kangana and Shahid was a mere fling. However, this conflict is accentuated to very high proportions and that too for an hour at stretch, where Kangana continues to strive for Shahid's attention and that too quite publically. One is also further puzzled when she does that openly even in front of Saif, which is basically suicidal. Nonetheless, you do ignore these plot points since Vishal still manages to keep your interest alive in the film by handling several situations quite well. The entire episode of moles of INA in the British army is placed quite well and once Kangana begins to perform for the troops, there are many entertaining moments that are presented before the audience. Yes, the whole stage-set episode around Churchill v/s Hitler confrontation is completely forced in the narrative and a couple of songs in the last 30 minutes only stretch the film further. Still, you go by it, especially when Saif and Kangana get into a swordfight at stage. This is also the point where Saif's part begins to turn a lot meatier and you do tell yourselves that he would make for a good suave villain if he decides to go all out (like he had in Ek Haseena Thi). However, soon after the narrative begins to slip. The moment Shahid and Kangana resume their romance right in the army camp and then a British army nurse is captured, the film begins to slip away. From this point on till the unveiling of a traitor to the action sequence that follows to Kangana getting into the ‘hunterwali’ avtar to the action that takes place on the bridge does make one a little restless. No wonder, you do start to think loud and clear that Rangoon could have been an altogether different film and cover a much greater distance had it been spun together a tad more tightly, a few plot points could have been much better written and the climax could have been much stronger. Nonetheless, what also stays true is the fact that there was a team that thought of making something altogether different instead of getting into a quintessential Bollywood space. For the effort, visuals and the grandeur that the film carries, Rangoon does deserve an acknowledgment for sure.