Great expectations, tepid affair

‘Rangoon’ movie review  by G9 Divya Solgama


Ashok Kumar starrer ‘Samadhi’ was one of the first big film with World War II as its backdrop in it. The trend continued in the form of films like ‘Hum Dono’, ‘Lalkaar’, ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’ and few more. Along with these movies the reference was also seen in films based on the lives of freedom fighters. But, none of these movies tried to capture the basic essence of the war and ended up using the World War II reference as just the backdrop of the film. The latest to join this niche genre is ‘Rangoon’, as it’s set in the WWII times. So, let’s find out whether ‘Rangoon’ will manage to make its right mark or might end up being yet another product based film where such references are only added to create a curiosity factor.

Rangoon-Hindi-Movie-Poster Story:

‘Rangoon’ is a story of an action queen actress Julia (Kangana Ranaut) who is in love with producer Rusi Bilimoria (Saif Ali Khan). Looking at the super popularity of Julia, General David (Richard McCabe) request Rusi Bilimoria to organize live shows of Julia for his men who are fighting the World War II in Rangoon. Rusi agrees as he need raw stock to make his next film, which can be only achieved with the help of General David. Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor) is assigned as personal guard to Julia. On their way to the base camp, the Japanese strike a surprise air attack due to which Julia and Nawab are separated from the rest. Julia and Nawab with a help of a Japanese solider try to find their way back to India and in that journey fall in love with each other. What happens next is what the entire film is all about.

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Screenplay & Technical Details:

The story is interesting and has many sub plots surrounded around it. There are multiple layers in the film right from the WWII, INA (Indian National Army), stunt based films and many more. These sub-plots and multiple layers makes the story interesting. The narrative is also engaging, but there is no substance in most of the scenes. The movie just keeps going on without proper settling into the main plots or relationships related to the lead protagonist. The romantic tracks fail to connect as it’s not convincing nor well defined. There are many scenes like Shahid sees Kangana naked (nanga, as per her in the film) and she falls in love with him, Kangana just request Saif to go against the British and he followers her blindly, Shahid’s patriotic feelings for the INA and many more are not properly justified and shown in a juvenile manner. The whole track of INA fails to connect and create the patriotic feeling. These scenes are important ones and needed some good writing attached to it. There are some enjoyable scenes in the first half of the film starting with the tour to the stunt based films in our country followed by Kangana trying to dance in front of the Japanese soldiers, Kangana’s interaction with the captured Japanese soldier, the whole sexual tension between Kangana and Shahid in the mud-fight, Saif proposing to Kangana and few more. The second half is let down as it’s lengthy and has too many things happening at the same time. Though, there are some thrilling scenes like Shahid’s gun track and Saif discovering the truth. Thanks to these scenes and brilliant cinematography the movie gets saved from becoming an epic colossal disaster. The locations and setups are beautiful and adds as an additional screenplay for the film. Editing is terrible as there are many abrupt cuts, which ruins your movie watching experience. The special effects were great in comparison to what we saw in ‘Bombay Velvet’. 

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Music has been an essential part in all the Vishal Bharadwaj’s films. The music of ‘Rangoon’ is more of film based and thus the fast pace songs like ‘Bloody Hell’, ‘Mere Miyan Gaye England’ and ‘Tippa’ are brilliantly choreographed and are well placed in the film. ‘Julia’ is good in the background. ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ is a gem of the song. The whole movie is rightly explained in this song. It compensates for the missing substance in the screenplay. Background music goes well with the flow of the film.


Director Vishal Bharadwaj is known for his brilliant cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays. The movies which have been adapted are among his best work followed by all others, which failed to match up to the brilliance of the adapted ones. ‘Rangoon’ is one of the better work from his non-adapted films as it has been presented in engaging manner but lacks the soul at many places. You will hardly find the magic of Vishal Bharadwaj in the movie and would see more of the producer Sajid Nadiadwala version in it. Scenes such as Saif discovering the truth, Shahid and Saif’s individual opinion over Kangana’s birthmark and a few more are the ones where we can see the dark magic of Vishal Bharadwaj. Wished there were more such scenes in the film. The movie could have been among his best works if only the focus would had been more on the soul rather than the facial beauty.

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Kangana Ranaut is the true hero of this film. She steals the show from her leading men and will remind you of Hema Malini from ‘Gehri Chaal’, where she saves the heroes (Jeetendra and Amitabh Bachchan) from the villain’s den. Kangana also shines out in the emotional scenes and you cannot take away your eyes from her enchanting beauty. Shahid Kapoor is tough, solid and displays a well-balanced portrayal in the movie. But, if compared with his last few films like ‘Haider’ or ‘Udta Punjab’, this one is a bit let down. Saif Ali Khan is not properly utilized as his eyes are like fathom of hidden desires and would have loved to see the darker side of it. Richard McCabe hams to the fullest by uttering his ‘Goraa’ styled clichéd Hindi, reminding us all those potboilers from the 70’s and 80’s era. Shriswara and others are wasted.

Final Verdict:

‘Rangoon’ is a passionately impassive film, which has some great performances, good technicalities and a decent plotline, which gets highly diluted due to the great expectations and disjointed screenplay.

Rating – 3/5 (Source – Bollywood Times)