An old world romance based during the World War II? That has all the makings of a movie classic, doesn’t it? Some of the movies that come to our mind in these settings are Casablanca and The English Patient. With Rangoon, Vishal Bhardwaj attempts to make a movie in this setting and what an attempt it is! Rangoon manages to make the a great impression in the first scene itself, when a regiment of British clashes with the Japanese, leading to the capture of Nawab Malik, an Indian Soldier in the British Army, played by Shahid Kapoor.
After that scintillating start, Rangoon moves the setting to Mumbai… I mean, Bombay where we are introduced to Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut), a very popular movie star known for her stunts. She is known to be a concubine to Rusi Billmoria (Saif Ali Khan) a Parsi movie financier. Rusi, who is quite in good relations with the British, sends Julia to Burma for a couple of shows to boost the morale of the army there. Nawab Malik, who has since managed to escape from the Japanese army, has been assigned for her protection. When they reach Burma, the Japanese fighter planes attack their group, separating Julia and Nawab from the rest. Now Nawab and Julia, along with a Japanese soldier they have captured, have to find a way back home.
There is a predictability in the events that turns out in the first half, especially in building up Nawab and Julia’s love story. The movie drags at times. But what arrests your attention and makes you invest in the movie, is how Vishal Bhardwaj does complete justice to the era in which the movie is set. Be it the locations, the decent special effects or the actors brought to play British and the Japanese characters, all are apt, making us relive that era. The background score is bloody fantastic. But it is the raw chemistry between Kangana and Shahid that leads you on in the first half. Apart from setting up his character, the first half doesn’t offer much scope to Saif Ali Khan, but he re-enters the scenario just around the interval, making things quite interesting for Nawab and Julia’s love story in the second half.
Reviewed by Sreeju Sudakaran