Rangoon-A Magnificent Artistic Portrait
First things first-Rangoon ain’t your typical Bollywood masala fare. To put it in perspective, it’s a masterpiece of art, brought to life on a magnificent canvas, larger than life. A film which draws heavily from Shakespearean form of literature. In a country where not many are left to appreciate intellectual cinema, it’s anybody’s guess to estimate its box office numbers. Thankfully, we have mastercraftsmen like Vishal Bhardawaj who don’t get swayed by box office compulsions, who dare to live and share their dreams ,in their own uncorrupted style. The result is a Magnum Opus in RANGOON.
Somewhere around 1940s..The world is on the brink of the impending Second World War. Japanese army is quickly marching towards India to topple the British regimen. There is massive unrest in India against the British regimen. Spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi (believer in non-violence) and Subhash Chandra Bose ( believer of the adage that you need to take life and not give life to gain independence),India is on the verge of its moment in history. However, there are this section of people for whom this struggle for independence is kind of mockery and they care a damn for this whole revolution. One is popular stunt film heroine Ms Julia (Kangana Ranaut) whose dare devilry and high voltage action dramas have earned her a massive fan following. And the snooty film producer Roosey Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) who inherits a prestigious film production company and under whose banner Ms Julia has given several massive hits. He is extremely well connected with the who’s who in the establishment, has great rapport with Indian Kings as well as the British regimen. His good friend Major General Hardings (Richard McCab) proposes ,rather insists, that Ms Julia does a few shows for his soldiers on the borders, enlighten up their battle hardened lives, boost up their morale, give them some cherish-able moments. Reluctantly, or forcefully to safeguard his business interests, he manipulates Ms Julia to agree. Jamadaar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor) is assigned the duty of safely taking her to the border posts. What follows is a great mix of love,deceit,war zone,struggle for independence,sacrifice for love ,and sacrificing love for country-all en-captured in a tumultuous roller coaster ride.
Not for a moment does Vishal Bharadwaj let the story waver. The backdrop of 1940’s impending war is beautifully, rather melancholic-ally created. The war ravaged landscape, its brutal impact on everyday lives, love blossoming in such testing times, and the sacrifice that it demands—all are so aesthetically showcased. All the departments –be it Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing-have seamlessly collaborated to make it a memorable experience.
Kangana has come a long way and her depiction of the character of Ms Julia is jaw dropping. She excels, and excels how. Her rendering of the signature dialogue-“BLOODY HELL” is sufficient to bring her fan into mass hysteria. Her coming of the age moment where she understands the true meaning of Love and life-“That bigger than loving oneself is dying for someone”-is the highlight moment of the movie. Saif as uber rich, nose-in-air, aristocratic heir is just the perfect actor to be cast. He brings that natural ease into the character which makes it look so believable. Shahid as the war horse, battle hardened soldier has given one of his best performance till date. His single dimensional focus towards his cause is well executed. The love making scenes have been the talk ever since the promos came out but they have been shot extremely aesthetically to make them look anything but titillating.
Film’s music suits the film’s story and the background and completely gels with the whole structure.
All in all, RANGOON is not for the audience fed on popcorn romance or mindless comedy capers.
RANGOON is a Gourmet Feast, to be savoured and cherished , at a languid pace.