Saturday, 25 February 2017


I liked Rangoon. That should be the first thing I should say about the movie. Because in spite of some flaws, it has turned out to be a very good cinematic experience for the viewer, overall. Vishal Bharadwaj has blended the story excellently with the period and the locale.

There will be some critics who will point out to the fact that the movie is half-hearted in depicting the WW 2 or the INA. But we should keep in mind that nowadays the movie makers are very circumspect about the content about their movies because of controversies which may spoil the business of the movie.
Rangoon can be best defined as a story of love and passion in the times of INA. It traverses the path of a light thriller combined with the elements of showbiz. And the setting, after the introductory phase is fully in the jungles of the northeast India, purported to be along the Burma (Myanmar) border. Actually shooting a Bollywood film with such an elaborate canvas is a big challenge by itself. From the credits, I found that the shooting of the movie has taken place, mostly, in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Instead of Nagaland and Manipur.

Anybody who goes to watch with the expectation of a war movie will be disappointed. Because though the setting of the movie is in the backdrop of probably the most fierce combat ever in the history of mankind, it does not stray off its course from the intrinsic story of passion and love. The war, patriotism, duty, spying have all been just handled without getting overboard about any of the components. In fact, I will say Vishal has shown an excellent restraint in this movie without preaching anything. In his own subtle way, he has touched upon the aspects which needed to be focussed and yet never loosened the grip on the story. The canvas of the story is very wide and everybody can have a different interpretation of the story. The director has provided his version, in a linear manner, avoiding to linger upon the branches. Otherwise, it would have surely got jumbled.

Along with the tight script, excellent photography, wonderful location and period settings, music is an integral part of the movie and it helps to carry the film along merging with the showbiz angle. And in the acting department, the three main characters played by Saif, Shahid and Kangna are all very well done. Particularly Kangna has once again turned out a superlative performance. The passion of a rebel trapped inside a docile actress, living almost in a bondage to an overpowering man is so nicely brought out by her. At the same type, she is confused, naughty, sensual, spunky and vulnerable. And she fits perfectly in the action scenes with her lithe figure, bringing the character based on fearless Nadia alive on the screen. This performance will add another feather to her well-adorned cap.

Both Shahid and Saif bring out the facets of strong male characters in different ways.While the possessive and male chauvinist character of a movie mogul is perfectly portrayed by Saif with a matching aristocratic elegance in a slightly negative shade and it really is done well. The passion of a lover and the devotion of an undercover agent to the cause of his country is brought out by a solid and silently smoldering Shahid Kapoor. He steals the heart of the audience in the climax scene. A very restrained, mature and intelligent acting on his part. But another performance which stands out is that of the Indophile English Major General played by Richard McCabe. He brings out a complex and multilayered character with a professional finesse. Actually a revelation. And the outstanding dialogue about corruption in Indian society and an oblique and witty reference to the national anthem delivered in the typical clipped British style in the passing are unforgettable.

The complaint which one may have against this movie is that of expectation. It superficially touches that era of our history which we probably did never want to know or were not allowed to brood over. As I said earlier, probably the most deadly frontal combat in the history of mankind was fought between the British Indian forces against the INA backed by the Japanese along the borders with Burma. And it has never been acknowledged. The Indian army always considered INA as deserters, probably by the British influence. Then the INA itself is trapped in a veil of romanticism when the hard fact is that they journeyed from Singapore to the borders of Manipur with Japanese help and with a little more of luck and timing could have captured a large part of India. The various dimensions of the whole story of INA remain buried under apathy and honest evaluation. And being a nation who never valued recorded history it may never come out. So when a director like Vishal Bharadwaj flirts with it, we naturally expect more from him.

But at he end of the day, Vishal Bharadwaj is a filmmaker and he needs to earn enough money to make such good movie in future. So there is no point in blaming him for the compromises he has made, rather been forced to make. From a purely cinematic perspective, Rangoon is an excellent movie falling short of the outstanding tag. Vishal Bharadwaj deserves appreciation for making it.

No comments:

Post a Comment