RANGOON Movie Review: Yeh Ishq Hai 'mud'led muddled

Director : Vishal Bhardwaj
Music : Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics : Gulzar
Starring : Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Shahid Kapoor

February 24, 2017 10:16:18 AM IST
Rangoon Review By Vishal Verma, Glamsham Editorial
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The much anticipated reteaming of Vishal Bhadwaj with Shahid Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan with the fantastic charm of Kangana Ranaut in the epic period war romantic drama RANGOON is marbled with ambition and has brilliant individual moments.

So does Vishal Bhardwaj towering ambition to fuse his known world of freely re-working of Shakespearean tragedies with a period fairy tale fantasy that combines a musical broad way in its way to infuse some nationalism in this 'prem katha' ( love story)?. Let's find out.


The undeniably explosive idea had the potential of 'desi' CASABALANCA and writers Matthew Robbins (story and screenplay) with Sabrina Dhawan and Bhardwaj himself penning the script open this with the introduction of Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor) in muddy fatigues. Its circa world war II era and serving for the British army, Nawab fighting bravely with the Subash Chandra Bose's INA ( Indian National Army) is taken as a POW ( prisoner of war). Cut to the action queen Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut) shooting her next probable blockbuster. Modeled on the famous Fearless Nadia of the 30's, Julia is producer and former action star Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) discovery. The rich Parsi has bought her for Rs 1000 from Mumbai's Chowpatty . Voila!! All set and now the 'search' begins.

After this introduction, a cartoonish General David Hardings (British actor Richard McCabe) starts getting to your nerves with his recital of Urdu poetry and Indian sayings in his peculiar British accent and the show which didn't even began properly starts getting spoiled. A few moments later Julia while on her way to perform for the Queen's army follows the cliches of a rom com - a noke jhoke (differences) with her bodyguard Nawab ( Shahid yes, wadi suddenly popping out from the prison and POW situation), gets rescued and finds herself trapped in the beautiful jungles of Arunachal Pradesh. So a ray of hope appears and we start believing that RANGOON is at least a triangular love story in the backdrop of war.

As Julia and Nawab start feeling for each other, we see Bhardwaj caught in his own dilemma whether to treat RANGOON as a Shakespearean tragedy or a sarcastic comment like MATRU KI BIJLI KA MAN DOLA. Bhardwaj does everything, he makes his lovers make love in mud, and shows staged acts poking fun at Hitler with Churchill in command followed by Julia's dance numbers. 'Bloody Hell', if that was not all, Bhardwaj in a horror tries to please the gallery and forces patriotisms that fails considerably in generating the desired effect. Ending RANGOON as a deliberate, desperate attempt that is 'mud'dled by a tedious, uneven script.

A well shot picturesque disaster, RANGOON is Vishal Bhardwaj's most ambitious but weakest film that tries to be everything. The alleged chopping of a good 25+ minutes by the Courts order in this 167 minute epic misfire adds more to the wounds and the chopped scenes are allegedly believed to be the one that bears similarity with Fearless Nadia of the 30's and Julia's character.

It should not be mistaken, RANGOON has some sparks of brilliance coming especially the scene involving between Julia and Rusi in the bathtub and her rejection to Rusi in the post interval sequence. Kangana dance numbers. The staged acts poking fun at Hitler with Churchill have their flamboyance but fail to get merged with the love triangle making us wonder what the director is up to.

Kangana is in top gear and gives an outstanding performance as Julia. Absolutely superb.

As for Shahid and Saif, its gets ironical. We found director Bhardwaj searching for film in RANGOON and similarly for Shahid who reserves his best for Bhardwaj didn't get much beyond the self -satisfied Nawab that mostly carries a single intense expression but that's the limited scope the character ordered for this talented actor who does well but seems to be left unused by his mentor.

Ditto for Saif who must be searching for something at par with the beefy, limping 'langda tyagi' from OMKARA, but gets to play a suave jealous lover that could have been done any time for anyone by him.

On the technical front, it's a well crafted movie where Pankaj Kumar's camera does most of the talking. Music is a letdown. Background score however is more impressive.

From the supporting cast Richard McCabe turns as a 'real' villain of this film, he is an annoying caricature as Major General Harding. Saharsh Shukla as Zulfi is fantastic. Alex Avery as Major Williams is fine. Lin Laishram as Mema is perfect. Gerson da Cunha, Rushad Rana and Manav Vij give adequate support.

RANGOON is an epic misfire and the movie has demonstrated the desperation of Bhardwaj in trying to please the gallery in the end and that is more alarming. Bhardwaj's was 'successful' in his unique pail of dramatics seen in his re working of Shakespearean tragedies and remarkable brilliance in KAMINEY that was never designed to please the masses, this attitude placed him in the top ranks of serious helmers but in RANGOON I found that Bhardwaj lost in his junoon ( passion) to get the maximum.

A confession : I am trying to remember RANGOON as a Vishal Bhardwaj's film since last night but repeatedly failing to do so. May be you can.

 Rangoon Review Rating : 
2.5/5 stars
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