Adnan Kapadia,

Media Planning and Execution at Alliance Advertising & Marketing,watches a movies if he enjoys the promo. Perhaps sometimes to do with his self-created standard of declaring a movie good or otherwise.Hence, some people avoid going to movies with him.

Release: February 24, 2017
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Richard McCabe 
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj

Unfortunately, the saying that ‘once one has discovered one’s God to have feet of clay they can never be totally be redeemed’ sadly holds true for Rangoon — Vishal’s latest outing. What could have been an epic wartime love story turned out to be an unbearably un-emotive confused hash of a movie which is left tryingto unsuccessfully juggle between patriotism and romanticism and ends up doing both a disservice. The romanticism at best feels contrived and at worst seems like just another run of the mill love story while the patriotic dimension is laid out too thinly without much impact like a lettuce leaf in a burger. In the backdrop, is the Second World War and Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor) serves the British Army against the Japanese on the Indo-Burma border. He is assigned to safeguard superstar Julia (Kangana Ranaut) on her way to Burma where she is being sent against her will by Major General Harding (Richard McCabe) to perform songs and dance, an attempt to boost the morale of the Indian soldiers fighting for the British Empire.

Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), an influential film producer of that time and Julia’s lover, tries to resist Harding’s request but eventuallygives in due to financial pressure. He is married with kids, but unable to marry Julia as he will have to go against his father. At the same time, Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA (Indian National Army) is fighting against the British with some support from the Japanese on the same Indo-Burma front. They desperately need resources to fund their battle and a major source are the sympathizers of their cause with in India.

A Maharajah willing to help the INA is trying to smuggle his valuable, gem-encrusted sword to the battle front which will be helpful in obtaining the funds for the INA. This sword must go with Julia’s troupe under Nawab Malik’s vigil. Julia and her assistants get trapped in an attack by the Japanese army and Nawab rescues Julia. The two lose their way and reach an isolated village and like it has a happened a thousand times before in countless movies, the two protagonists when left by themselves, fall into lust and then love at second and third sight. Ho Hum.

However, Rusi too is in search of Julia and seeks help from the British Army and eventually finds his Julia only to discover that the dynamic of his relationship with her has nowt umed into a triangle and he is the hypotenuse of this triangle. Is there a happy ending for Nawab and Julia’s brewing love story or will Rusi take revenge for h is long lost love? Oh and that sword is also vital as it must reach the INA and Nawab is a mole. This is the core tension and story of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Rangoon. In light of Vishal’s last offerings, it is one of the weakest and definitely the most torturous. Rangoon in my brain will forever be synonymous with death-like boredom for, although the songs and in particular Yeh lshq Haitried to inject life and depth with other more than a dozen sound tracks, I still cannot call this film a musical The teaming of Gulzar, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, KK and Arijit Singh made all those 150 awkward minutes at least bearable.

Although great craft went into the making of the movie as far as cinematography, art direction and every other technicality is concerned, as it does try to transport you to the era of British rule, but the weak dialogues and limpid soup like plot keeps you floating between boredom and ennui. The most awful part of the film is its climax, once again highlighting the propensity of our directors to drag out never ending death scenes, at the end of which the audience is left to pray to God that the poor onscreen soul finds a quick painless release.

Over to the actors now. Shahid, Kangana and Saif are superb with what they’ve been asked to do, but even the greatest of actors cannot make a poor project look pretty. All other supporting actors did a fair job too.

Rangoon is a far cry from any of Vishal Bhardwaj’s past masterpieces. In fact, as far as masterpieces go this film is a masterclass of what a director should avoid at all costs i.e. a flimsy half-baked mind numbing story and a half-hearted effort to turn it into an edible digestive work of any kind. He wanted to make this film 10 years ago titled ‘Julia’, but couldn’t. Needless to say , he should have forgotten for good. for all the effort which went in, a generous 2 out of 5 star.

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