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Rangoon, A Promising Child Who Grows Up Without Any Sense Of Direction

Rangoon, with the talent and resources on call, still falls far short of the masterpiece it could have been. Casablanca it most certainly is not.

Rangoon, A Promising Child Who Grows Up Without Any Sense Of Direction
Rangoon, A Promising Child Who Grows Up Without Any Sense Of Direction
outlookindia.com
2017-02-24T16:32:37+0530

Like so many Vishal Bhardwaj films, Rangoon too goes halfway and collapses, leaving the viewer with that frustrated feeling of having watched a film which never quite lived up to its ambition. His aim is on the scale of a grand epic, but it fails to capture a passion that should have been at the heart of the story- one that drives both, the romantic and patriotic.

Julia (Kangana Ranaut) is the fearless Nadia-inspired action star, who is as fierce on screen, as she is confused and little-girly like in the presence of her film-producer lover Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan). She dreams of becoming Mrs. Billimoria (even though he is already married); he calls her “kiddo” and makes her sit on his lap.

1943, when the Indian freedom struggle is in full swing and Gandhi’s pacifism is being questioned by Netaji Bose’s military rhetoric. The latter allies with the Germans and the Japanese against the British using the logic that an enemy’s enemy is a friend. On the Indo-Burma border the war is particularly intense with the British Indian army fighting the Netaji’s INA, as well as the Japanese.

 Billimoria panders to the British—personified by the shayari spouting General Harding (a hammy Richard McCabe)—because of the shortage of raw stock, and pushes Julia to go to the border to entertain the troops. INA spies use the trip to fulfill their own agenda as a priceless sword is smuggled in Julia’s luggage by her effete make-up man and companion Zulfi (Saharsh Shukla).

 Following an attack, Julia finds herself in the jungle with Jamadar Nawab Malik as her protector and a Japanese prisoner (Satoru Kawaguchi) they drag around for no reason but to prolong the first half to the point of tedium.

 Julia is helpless and petulant by turns, and ends up falling in love with the stoic Nawab, who pays no attention to her tantrums, but also looks out for her.

 In the second half, when Rusi and Harding reappear, the triangle simmers and INA intrigues also play out in the background, as Julia, dances for the troops.  Sadly, the romance lacks passion despite all the kissing and a From Here to Eternity-like romp in the sand, and the spy games look juvenile.

 When the backdrop is this complicated and the production design so impressive, the actors seem dwarfed. Only Saif Ali Khan is convincing as the one-armed movie tycoon; the other two look like youngsters trying to act grown up. By the time the film, and Julia, start to make sense it is already too late.

 

 Rangoon, with its many nods to Indian and Hollywood films, is not a washout, but with the talent and resources on call, it still falls far short of the masterpiece it could have been. Casablanca it most certainly is not.

Like so many Vishal Bhardwaj films, Rangoon too goes halfway and collapses, leaving the viewer with that frustrated feeling of having watched a film which never quite lived up to its ambition. His aim is on the scale of a grand epic, but it fails to capture a passion that should have been at the heart of the story- one that drives both, the romantic and patriotic.

Julia (Kangana Ranaut) is the fearless Nadia-inspired action star, who is as fierce on screen, as she is confused and little-girly like in the presence of her film-producer lover Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan). She dreams of becoming Mrs. Billimoria (even though he is already married); he calls her “kiddo” and makes her sit on his lap.

1943, when the Indian freedom struggle is in full swing and Gandhi’s pacifism is being questioned by Netaji Bose’s military rhetoric. The latter allies with the Germans and the Japanese against the British using the logic that an enemy’s enemy is a friend. On the Indo-Burma border the war is particularly intense with the British Indian army fighting the Netaji’s INA, as well as the Japanese.

 Billimoria panders to the British—personified by the shayari spouting General Harding (a hammy Richard McCabe)—because of the shortage of raw stock, and pushes Julia to go to the border to entertain the troops. INA spies use the trip to fulfill their own agenda as a priceless sword is smuggled in Julia’s luggage by her effete make-up man and companion Zulfi (Saharsh Shukla).

 Following an attack, Julia finds herself in the jungle with Jamadar Nawab Malik as her protector and a Japanese prisoner (Satoru Kawaguchi) they drag around for no reason but to prolong the first half to the point of tedium.

 Julia is helpless and petulant by turns, and ends up falling in love with the stoic Nawab, who pays no attention to her tantrums, but also looks out for her.

 In the second half, when Rusi and Harding reappear, the triangle simmers and INA intrigues also play out in the background, as Julia, dances for the troops.  Sadly, the romance lacks passion despite all the kissing and a From Here to Eternity-like romp in the sand, and the spy games look juvenile.

 When the backdrop is this complicated and the production design so impressive, the actors seem dwarfed. Only Saif Ali Khan is convincing as the one-armed movie tycoon; the other two look like youngsters trying to act grown up. By the time the film, and Julia, start to make sense it is already too late.

 Rangoon, with its many nods to Indian and Hollywood films, is not a washout, but with the talent and resources on call, it still falls far short of the masterpiece it could have been. Casablanca it most certainly is not.

The trailer: 


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