Rangoon Movie Review.
. . .
There is a moment in the Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest movie “Rangoon” when a successful film producer and former superstar Russi (played by Saif Ali Khan), along with hundreds of others, is hiding in a bomb shelter at war-torn Indo-Burmese Border as the Japanese bombers trace the sky. It’s a wait and watch situation. Wait for the time to go on and hope that the anti-aircraft gets the bomber before they get them.
In these moments when life can end at any moment, Russi suddenly realizes that Julia (Kangana Ranaut, his finance) is not among them. So is Malik (Shahid Kapoor), who is a minor officer in the army.
In these tense moments, Russi’s suspicions about Julia and Malik start gathering shape. And when they turn up just before the Japanese bombers fly over them, their sand stricken bodies betrayed their physical closeness. That they are no more just acquaintances. And Russi’s all doubts about them are confirmed. He, the man with power, money, and fame, and the one who had made Julia the star she was today, has lost her. And Saif Ali Khan, without saying a word, brilliantly expresses an anger and anguish of a man defeated in the game of love. It is one of the best acting sequences in recent times.
There was a pin drop silence in the theater during this scene.
The background music, the acting, the scene – all were perfectly done. Each amalgamating beautifully to create the tension and wild emotions of a love triangle against the backdrop of war. It was Indian Cinema at its best and at par with the best of Hollywood out there.
This was one of the many set-pieces that Vishal Bhardwaj perfectly created and executed in “Rangoon.” Without going over the top (except two scenes in the end) he painted a beautiful collage of the India in the 1940s.
Like the fears of the middle class in those times. They were divided between patriotism that the time demanded and the self-interest that grew under the British Rule. They had benefited, made name and fortune, by befriending and obliging to the East India Company. All that would go once Britishers leave, which was becoming a real possibility in the 1940s. This fear was palpable, very real, in the way they conducted themselves.
In one of the conversations, Julia says that the whole India is going mad. The Britishers are going nowhere. And if they go what would we do. We can’t rule ourselves. Doesn’t matter how many protests we do. Britishers won’t go. This conversation betrayed the sycophancy and hypocrisy of the Indian middle class. Their support to the Indian cause limited to raising glasses during drinking parties. While the real supporter died protesting Britisher’s rule.
The other brilliantly executed master-stroke was the story of Julia. She is a superstar. But she had a bleak past in which she was a vagabond, making a living by doing stunts and acrobats. She would have lived this life if not spotted and made a star by Russi.
Her past was never explicitly shown in the movie.[Rangoon Movie Review.]
But it was brought out slowly, gradually, in many conversations and scenes as her life was unpeeled layer by layer to reveal a personality divided between a strong woman who rode horses and said her mind and a little girl- “the kiddo” as Russi called her, who saw Russi as her master and did whatever he said.
In the movie, it was shown that Russi was in love with Julia. But if you look closely, Julia was nothing more than a prized pet for Russi, who did whatever he wanted. A couple of times when Julia was angry or sad or had her own mind, Russi would talk to her like one talks to a pet. He would whistle and call her out. Pat his thighs, asking her to sit on them. And she would oblige like a pet monkey losing all her fierceness to his master.
The highest point of the movie was when the tension and suspicion between Russi, Julia and Malik reaches its highest point. And it was brilliantly portrayed in one of the best-placed songs “Ye Ishq Hai” in Bollywood. Its lyrics penned by Gulzar and sung by Arijit Singh. The song never obstructs the flow of the story. In stead it just melts easily in the plot that you don’t even realize its beginning.
In the song you just get drawn to the little things that Julia did to express her love in a constrained war-torn environment.
Listening to it you realize how powerful songs can be. I wonder how songs are wasted in the movies otherwise in the form of item numbers or stubbornly placed string of stupid and nonsense words strung together.
Watch “Rangoon” for brilliant direction, a sublime plot and a storyline that would really transport you to the times of World War II. Watch if for the acting – The fierceness of Kangna Ranaut. The brilliance of Saif Ali Khan and the determined effort of Shahid Kapoor.
. . .
If you liked this review than you would like reading the review of XXX: Return of the Xanders