Highway Reel: Rangoon

Rangoon is a larger-than-life confusion!

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Rating: 2.5

Set in 1943, during the pre-independence era in India, Rangoon is the tale of a love triangle amidst the deadly World War II. During this fight for freedom, the nation is divided between Gandhi’s stance for non-violence and Subhash Chandra Bose’s aggressive militarism. The film gives a heavy dose of history, portraying the fight against the British, the Nazis, the Japanese and everything in between. You might just end up losing track of the entire build-up once you’re engrossed in the film.

Rangoon centres around three leading characters: Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor), an Indian soldier in the British Army with a questionable past; Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) is an obnoxious film studio head honcho and his lady love,  Julia (Kangana Ranaut), a puppet in his hands. She is the heartthrob of the nation and a sought-after stunt heroine.

Julia is sent to Burma by the British army to cheer up the soldiers there. Since her lover Rusi can’t join her on this voyage, soldier Nawab Malik accompanies Julia as her personal security guard. Their journey goes awry when they’re caught in a cross fire and are separated from the rest of their crew. Now Julia and Malik are stranded in the middle of nowhere trying to make their way back to India.

Thus begins an epic journey that draws them towards one another and, as you have probably guessed, love blossoms in these challenging circumstances.

Trying to making it larger than life, Vishal Bharadwaj does take several cinematic liberties. Like in most of his films, he has tried to merge Shakespearean symbolism with Indian melodrama. But not many would perceive the intricacies of his filmmaking style. As he tries to establish his premise, it gets a tad monotonous for viewers.

On the plus side, the picturesque locations and raw chemistry between Kangana and Shahid’s characters will keep you hooked. Interestingly, there’s a glimpse of Kangana’s character from Queen which provides the much-needed comic relief.

Kangana Ranaut as the feisty Julia manages to hog maximum screen presence and does complete justice to her role. After two National Awards, she’s certainly upping the ante with every film.

Shahid Kapoor stands out as the mysterious jawan Nawab Malik with his coy yet cocky demeanour. In Kangana and Shahid’s scenes together, I couldn’t decide whom to look at. Saif Ali Khan was subdued despite the brashness of his character. While he does exceedingly well in certain parts, there are some in which he can easily pass as unnoticed.

On their own, the songs seem a little daunting, but as the soundtracks are woven into the storyline, they almost make it look like a musical.

In a recent interview, Kangana Ranaut mentioned that watching Rangoon is a cinematic experience. I couldn’t agree more, but I think a stronger script and less confusing storyline might have made this experience a more memorable one.

Supriya Says: Watch it only for the mesmerising cinematography. Not giving away any spoilers, but be prepared for a disappointing climax!


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