'Rangoon': Kangana stands tall in intriguing drama of war, love and betrayal

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New Delhi: Elements of love, betrayal and intrigue have been underlying theme of most of Bollywood filmamker Vishal Bhardwaj's movies like ‘Maqbool’, ‘Omkara’, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ and ‘Haider’.
In his new film ‘Rangoon’, Bhardwaj as tried to weave in elements of love and betrayal into a story set in the backdrop of the World War II and the Indian freedom struggle.
Like his earlier films, ‘Rangoon’ too displays Bhardwaj’s mastery in dealing with themes of love and betrayal.
Emotions like love, jealousy and heartbreak comes across beautifully in Bhardwaj’s film, which has narratives of the love triangle and the happenings in the war running parallel to each other .
Though the act of balancing the two narratives does give a jarring feeling in some parts of the film, on the overall level, ‘Rangoon’ comes across as an intriguing drama.
Set in 1940, ‘Rangoon’ deals with a love triangle between Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), action star Julia (Kangana Ranaut) and Jamadar Nawab Mallik (Shahid Kapoor).
Russi Billimoria, a former action star who is now a producer, is the man behind Julia’s stardom.
After buying her from an orphanage, Russi makes her an action star and is madly in love with her.
Julia too wants to become Ms Billimoria at the earliest.
On a direction by General Hardings ( Richard McCabe), Russi promises that Julia will perform for his Army men in Burma.
As Julia sets out on her journey, protected by Jamadar Nawab Mallik, she comes under attack.
After Jamadar Nawab Mallik, now assigned as a bodyguard for her, saves her from the attackers, love blossoms between the two.
Julia is now stuck between her passionate love and her dream to become Ms Billimoria.
The rest of the film is about whom she chooses as the love of her life and the events thereafter.
The film begins on a slow note with the first half showing the build up of the romance between Julia and Jamadar Mallik.
In fact, the romance between the two takes up most of the first half.
Watching the romance between the two is like a ‘poetry in motion’, an effect enhanced by the songs , with lyrics penned by noted lyricist-writer Gulzar.
The film suddenly gathers pace in the second half which sees the thriller element of the film taking over with the story dealing with the happenings during world War II and the Indian Freedom Struggle.
However, the tale of love and betrayal runs parallel to the narrative.
Overall, the filmmaker manages to maintain an element of intrigue throughout the film.
Bharadwaj has managed to make the film look visually appealing .
The director has beautifully recreated the pre-Independence era with the shots of 1940s Bombay and Burma lending a visual appeal to the film.
The film also has a brilliant production design which captures the grandeur of the era.
After ‘Tanu weds Manu’ and ‘Queen’, Kangana Ranaut comes up with another standout performance as the stuntwoman Julia.
She is brilliant as the ‘bindaas’ girl who is fiercely protective about her desires.
Kangna also excellently brings out the vulnerabilities and insecurities in the character of Julia as she oscillates between her desire to be Ms Billimoria and her love for Jamadar mallik.
It is another award winning act by her.
As Russi Billimoria, the film producer who is madly in love with Julia and is extremely jealous about her liaison with Jamadar Mallik, he puts in an effortless performance.
He is particularly brilliant in the scenes where he comes to know about Julia’s affair.
Shahid Kapoor comes across as extremely charming as Jamadar Mallik.
His chemistry with Kangana is excellent.
The rest of the cast has provided able support.
The lyrics of the film by Gulzar are beautiful and apt.
The songs blend with the flow of the film.
Rating : 4/5: One for direction by Vishal Bhardwaj,one for performances by Kangana, Saif and Shahid, one for the excellent production design and cinematography and one for the film’s music).

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