War movie, struggle for independence, love story, or all three?
Rangoon cannot make up its muddied mind and ends up being neither.There are perfectly chosen and styled actors -all of them-from the tiniest role of a nurse to Kangana (full marks for casting and acting), delivering some good and some great performances, mouthing the occasional relevant dialogue, but otherwise held together less weakly than the rope and wood bridge that is crossed and burned.
It skims the surface for love, hate, patriotism, jealousy, neither being felt deeply enough or conveyed effectively to reach the audience. Emotions get switched on and off like a flick of a button.
Rusi Billimoria –A suave Saif Ali Khan –(acting well after ages and looking good)is a film maker, Brit supporter and mentor and lover for Miss Julia-a suitably groomed Kangana, doing a super job. Miss Julia is an action heroine and hugely popular. In a bid to garner further help from the Raj to get raw film stock, Rusi agrees to let his beloved Julia go to Rangoon for a morale boosting trip for the soldiers at war.
A conniving British Major General (Richard McCabe-truly despicable angrez) assures her full security (in awful, “I’m an Indian at Heart ,Hindi .Made me want to kick him hard.)Thus goes off Ms Julia on a long train journey.Her Rusi gets left behind due to the machinations of his father and a sulking, screaming Julia meets Jamadar Nawab Malik-An extremely rugged and desirable Shahid Kapoor (I Sigh-ed lustily-a lot!), her bodyguard, who has to bodily stop her from jumping off the train.
(Sigh-ed So Cool)
The travelling troupe gets attacked by the Japanese and while saving Miss Julia and leading her to safety, Nawab and the lady develop a bond which eventually falls in the category of Fevicol ka mazboot jod.
Running parallel to this tale is that of the Indian National Army and its growing popularity.
The three tracks are woven together looser than bad gunny bags and are interspersed with many many songs, which on their own are appealing; but as part of the film, stretch it into interminable agony. Even then “tippa” , “bloody hell” and “alvida” stayed enough to make me listen to them again without the background of the film.Gulzar Sahab’s lyrics had something to do with that as did Sunidhi Chauhan’s lovely voice.
So it drags on almost as long as WWII possibly did, in classic Vishal Bhardwaj sepia tones, across some truly beautiful locales,but with none of the gut wrenching pathos he is capable of evoking. Think Haider.
The possibilities for this film were very bright with its stupendous cast and crew. I Guess some refresher lessons in knitting and snipping are needed.
Bloody hell-I feel bad.