Director Vishal Bharadwaj spins an intriguing, interesting and imposing tale of love set against the backdrop of World War II packing it in his inimitable style with well-etched out characters, authentic settings, excellent cinematography, imaginative song sequences, unique music and a touch of suspense.
Rangoon is probably the director’s most lavishly mounted project and transports us to the year 1943-1944 when many wars were being fought across the world. It was the period when Indians were on the brink of getting Independence from the British but within the country there was a clash between Gandhiji’s principle of ‘ahimsa’ and Subhash Chandra Bose’s ideology of war. It was also the time when Bose’s INA joined forces with the Japanese army and Hitler’s German forces to get the British out of India. At the same time, many Indians were part of the British army and were forced to fight for them because we were ruled by them.
Though the backdrop sounds heavy-handed, it cannot be called a war film as the actual war scenes though spectacularly shot are limited and the concentration is more on the ‘Saif-Kangana-Shahid’ love story…
Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan)- who was once an action hero but now a film producer loves his discovery and protégé Julia (Kangana Ranaut)- an action heroine and reigning queen of the Bombay film industry. He is in favour of the British and has no qualms in accepting their request to send Julia to Burma to entertain the troops there and raise their spirits. Much against her wishes she sets off without him and though she is assured of security of the highest order, things go haywire when the train they are travelling by is stopped and they become vulnerable targets of an unexpected and horrific aerial bombing attack by the Japanese war planes.
Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor ) – an escaped POW from the Japanese camp has been assigned to be her bodyguard and gets stranded with Julia after the bomb attack. In their quest to find a path to safety, the two unexpectedly end up spending quality time together and their close proximity ignites unbridled passion. Now the triangular love story gets interesting with unexpected twists which keep us engrossed till the end.
THE PLUS POINTS:
The USP of the film is the brilliant performances of the three protagonists. Saif Khan is superbly cast as the suave, classy and polished gentleman who can be ruthlessly possessive of his Julia. Shahid Kapoor as the serious soldier with an unwavering focus on his mission is comparatively restrained but equally brilliant in his act and comes up with another memorable performance.
The film however belongs to Kangana right from her grand introductory scene where she is seen swinging on chandeliers and doing stunts to the very last scene where her action scenes leave us asking for more. It is her character we carry home with us when we leave the cinema hall. Easily one of the best roles a heroine can dream of getting, Kangana excels in every department-action, emotion, romance and dance- she goes about them all with great panache and her unique charm is endearing.
She gets to display a wide range of emotions ranging from an innocent vulnerable girl in love with her mentor, to a passionate lover totally besotted by the soldier, from a compassionate human being who is torn inside on witnessing cold-blooded killings to a fearless rebel who fights with an unabashed fervour to prove her love. Her persona is modelled after our very own stunt film heroine of the forties ‘Fearless Nadia’ and it is evident that Kangana has worked very hard to come out on top.
The stunning locales of Arunachal Pradesh form a perfect setting and have been captured brilliantly. Meticulous detailing of every little thing to recreate the era is really praiseworthy. The aerial bombing scene is fabulously shot and deserves a special mention and so does the well shot climax scene.
Music in Vishal’s films always sound different and two of the songs-‘Bloody Hell’ by Sunidhi Chauhan and ‘Yeh Ishq Hai…’ by Arijit Singh deserve special mention.
At 2 hours 47 minutes, some people may find the film a tad lengthy and maybe some tighter editing would have made it crisper. With the result, the first half is a little slow.
There is a British actor Richard McCabe who plays Major General Harding and gets ample scope as the main antagonist. After a point his dialogue delivery gets a little irritating and unfortunately he has a lot of scenes in the film.
WORTH SEEING !
It is not everyday that one comes across films with the backdrop of war and when the project is helmed by a director of Vishal’s calibre, the result is bound to be splendid! On the whole the film is definitely worth seeing especially for Kangana’s outstanding act. Three cheers to her!!!