In Dusseldorf, Germany, local officials instructed 13,000 residents to evacuate their homes temporarily due to the discovery of a World War II-era bomb.
With La La Land in December and now Rangoon, it seems like we are going through an age where filmmakers want to return to the epic beauty of golden age cinema. The project is a period film set during World War II (1939-1945) with the leading actress supposedly playing a character based on the life and times of Mary Ann Evans or Fearless Nadia, Bollywood’s first original stunt-woman still remembered for her fiery role in the movie Hunterwali.
Rangoon, a fictional/non-fictional love triangle set against the final years of India’s struggle against the British Raj is as grand a cinematic experience, as it is a heartfelt love letter to cinema of yore. Director Vishal Bharadwaj isn’t a stranger to movies that can take the audience’s viewing experience to the next level but with Rangoon, he covers new ground.
Essentially, it is a movie where the protagonist is played by the director himself with his majestic vision but that isn’t to say that the actors are any less. Kangana Ranaut as Julia gives a stellar performance as do her male counterparts, Shahid and Saif Ali Khan, especially the latter. His anti-hero role is probably the best character belonging to that category to have come out of Bollywood in years. The movie is driven by the characters, the writing being so well-knit that it feels that all three of them deserve their own movie.
As mentioned earlier, the movie is a love letter to yesteryear’s cinema. Sweeping majestic shots of painstakingly designed sets and the intoxicatingly beautiful landscape of Burma along with beautifully lit shots of nightclubs, army camps and other such places are definitely never-before-seen in Indian cinema. Pankaj Kumar, the cinematographer deserves a salute for his work. The music by Vishal Bharadwaj is definitely catchy from time to time but as a whole, it isn’t anything spectacular.
The problems with the movie are its runtime and at times, its choppy editing. It feels 20-30 minutes too long and the climax is unrelentingly ridiculous, especially considering how well it is built up to that point. Also worth mentioning is the CGI which is quite noticeable in battle scene on the beach.
Notwithstanding, Rangoon is still a cinematic experience that deserves to be watched at theatres in all its glory. Its a testament to the fact that we have directors in India who believe in the power of cinema as an art form and that essentially, the word ‘Bollywood’ is a genre and films like Rangoon definitely aren’t of that genre.
Coordinator, Class XI, Julien Day School, Kolkata