Director- Vishal Bhardwaj
Starring- Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor
Rangoon explores love in the most trying times and most trying locations as well. The love triangle between the stuntwoman, the maker of the stuntwoman and the soldier is intriguing; each one of them equally passionate, yet playing an act. The feisty Julia is torn between obligation and chemistry. She once admits losing her identity (meri zooban bhi meri nahin, mera dil bhi mera nahi) to her lover Russi but is brave enough to admit love to the soldier Nawab Malik.
Russi despite his unflinching love for Julia finds himself under control by the British rule and revels the powers and the lifestyle that comes along. Malik is crushed between love and his duty.
Vishal Bhardwaj for one of those rare times sticks to linear narrative, heavily depending on the story than symbolism. There is no mysterious ghost of Haider called Rooh or Macbeth’s predicting witches in Maqboool’s Pandit and Purohit.
The plot is simple - the clash between pyaar and patriotism.
This is also Vishal’s most ambitious project. The locations are scenic, the canvas is huge and magnificent and he has incredibly talented actors to work with.
If Saif Ali Khan lends just the right amount of royalty to Russi, Shahid Kapoor brings one of his most restrained performances. Kangana looks beautiful. She nails all emotions - longing, gratitude, love and childlike naivety.
Besides the leading cast, Saharsh Shukla leaves an incredible impression too, as he plays Julia’s loyal makeup man.
Despite brilliant performances, the film loses its grip in parts and starts dragging. The narrative is often unnecessarily intervened by songs. Though the lyrics by Gulzar are relevant, alas, it derails the film from its track and paces it down. Also a few sequences in the film seem disconnected, hence the attempt to string them together with songs, makes it look choppy and uneven.
Even the romance between Julia and Malik seems a bit too early and sudden. They fall in love because, hey, they are the leading pair; they have to fall in love. The palpable chemistry between Shahid and Kangana though saves the day.
Pankaj Kumar has done an exceptional work as the cinematographer of the film. The gorgeous shot of the winding steps in an old theatre looks delicious and the war scenes look splendid.
The length of the film is a major concern. It takes too long to get to the climax and really tests your patience.
Had the film been snappier, shorter, it would have been more impactful. If you dig Vishal Bhardwaj’s brand of cinema, a one-time watch wouldn’t hurt much.
THE RATINGS MEAN:
5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!)
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once.
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?