Friday, 24 February 2017
Rangoon, directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, is such an unendurable and unapologetically tedious film to sit through that it urges you to question your faith in Hindi cinema itself. Still, there is nothing more disappointing than watching a filmmaker of his caliber blatantly abandon his masterful vision and impassioned storytelling for the sake of elaborate set-pieces and the desperate but misplaced desire to deliver nothing short of an epic.
The film starts off with an impressive war set-up of the British forces invading the Japanese battalion in Rangoon. We are then informed about the Indian National Army devising a strategy to overthrow the British forces under the leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. So far so good. The film, from here on, revolves around a love triangle between its leads with a loose, snail-paced narrative constantly punctured by mediocre songs, hammy acting and hopelessly misguided attempts at evoking sentiments of nationalism, especially in the final act, which by the way, turns out to be quite unintentionally hilarious.
And all of this, believe it or not, is the brain-child of one of the most influential filmmakers of our times. Barring Saat Khoon Maaf, Vishal Bharadwaj has delivered something special in every film of his. Be it the ingenious adaptations of Shakespeare (Maqbool, Omkara and Haider) or the remarkable noir-film Kaminey, VB never failed to surprise us with his unconventional take on dark, cynical themes laced with the right dosage of rationality. Also, blame it on the indifferent storytelling or not, for a director who entrusted Irrfan Khan and Tabu with roles of a lifetime, Rangoon doesn’t boast of any affecting performances either. Nor do you often associate the words predictable or dull with his films, but Rangoon is a serious test of patience. There are flashes of conviction on part of VB in the second half, but unfortunately by then, the ship has sunk deep.