Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon has received mixed reviews. Some are extremely positive, while others are average to negative. For a word-of-mouth dependent film, it isn’t good enough.
Rangoon Review by Indicine
Rangoon is a film that should be applauded more for its intentions rather than its execution. The love triangle, which is the basic plot device of the movie, doesn’t overpower the other proceedings in the movie. Yes, more time should have been delved in the freedom struggle movement. Eventually, Rangoon delivers a crisp second half which almost negates the slow first half of world building. Lovers of serious cinema who want a bit of meat in their movies, should definitely check out Rangoon because movies of this sort are few and far in between. If entertainment is what you seek out of films, then Rangoon isn’t for you.
Rangoon Review by Bollywood Hungama
The story moves constantly in the first hour, transporting you from the studios of Mumbai to the jungles at the Indo-Burma border. A few stand out moments during the course of the first half are magical indeed, but the narrative isn’t cohesive enough for you to go ga-ga over it. Thankfully, there’s much meat in the second half. In fact, Vishal reserves the best for the post-interval portions, when Rusi, Julia and Nawab’s worlds collide. There’s turbulence in their lives and that, for me, is the film’s biggest strength. The myriad emotions [love, jealousy, betrayal], the sequence of events in the second half, the nail-biting finale… Vishal keeps his storytelling simplistic, yet the impact is power-packed and compelling. There are shortcomings along the way. To start with, the writing in the first half is erratic… Editing could’ve been crisper… Also, the songs aren’t catchy [except ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ and ‘Bloody Hell’]. Now this is surprising because Vishal is the music composer as well. Besides, the film could’ve done without a song or two… A few sequences in the second half look unreal [Julia gets into the costume, jumps on the train and saves Nawab — it’s too sudden].
Rangoon Review by Meena Iyer on The Times Of India
Saif gives his movie-entrepreneur act a razor-sharp quality. And, Shahid is outstanding. Kangana of course is the piece de resistance. You can believe that two men would cross swords for her. While she is a child-woman or “kiddo” to the sophisticated Rusi, who treats her like an expensive buy, she becomes the heartbeat of the patriotic Nawab, who loves her spirited side. However, as pointed out earlier on, though the love scenes are written well and aesthetically shot, they lack passion. The multiple lip-locks between Shahid and Kangana don’t ignite flames. There’s a dialogue in the film where Saif tells a British officer, “We’re actors, we know how to convince people.” That isn’t entirely true here. Borrowing Julia’s oft-repeated phrase, “Bloody hell’, one wishes these three had truly dropped their guard. It would’ve certainly added more rang to this movie extravaganza.
Rangoon Review by Rohit Vats on Hindustan Times
It’s an ambitious film where Bhardwaj wants to merge two worlds: One inspired from Shakespearean tragedies and other motivated by the valiant lovers of the Indian cinema. In the end, neither comes alive on screen – on top of it a messy climax that topples whatever hard work was done building a world of romance. At 167 minutes, Rangoon isn’t only long but painful. And this isn’t the pain of love. And it doesn’t end in pleasure.
Rangoon Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
The best part of ‘Rangoon’ are its song-and-dances: there is no one quite like Bhardwaj when it comes to creating drama through melody and verse. But they are packed in too close, and while giving us more to watch, also causes a loss of momentum. The interesting supporting cast, which includes, amongst others, Kawaguchi as a wandering Japanese soldier, Shukla as Miss Julia’s constant companion and the bearer of a terrible secret, Kumar as a company actor, never really gets a chance to show its skills fully. And McCabe as the ghazal-singing, Hindi-spouting bad Brit is more unintentionally hilarious than menacing.
Review by Devarsi Ghosh on India Today
Vishal Bhardwaj’s most expensive and, of late, his most accessible film Rangoon sails smoothly as long its hero and heroine are allowed to just be. Malik and Julia’s romance is slow-cooked and the essence of every moment between the two is allowed to linger before the next moment starts. It feels like Nawab Malik and Julia are floating in their own dreamland, perfectly content with the scheme of things, and consequently, Rangoon appears to feel content with itself, devoid of any duties to formal narrative storytelling. There is no rush to fast-forward to the next plot device in this entire stretch where Malik and Julia’s romance is built up. Therefore, in the second half, when Vishal Bhardwaj and Co. pull up their socks to tie all the loose ends and ensure that all three protagonists – Malik, Julia and Rusi – find poetic justice, regardless of how laborious that pursuit might look on screen, Rangoon slowly, slowly bends and breaks its back under the pressure of Vishal Bhardwaj’s narrative ambitions.
Review by Raja Sen on Rediff
Rangoon haunts in unlikely fashion and, while the director’s most straightforward picture, holds enough of its own marvels to justify multiple viewings. Like a song-and-dance troupe trampling all over a map of Europe to tell their own fractured, misguided jokes, or an old man cosily swilling wine after having faked his own death, Rangoon may be direct, but it is never obvious. As the credits used to say back in the day at the close of a spectacular film, ‘Remember, it’s a Vishal Bhardwaj creation.’
Review by Rashma Shetty Bali on Bollywood Life
There are three things that could have made Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon near perfect. Unlike his earlier films the director detoxes the film of any kind of layers. The presentation is simple and straight and it’s great, except that at points you almost feel the lack of any kind of surprise making it too predictable. Even that could have been passed off, but what doesn’t work is the pace, some unnecessary songs that kill the narrative and a little more of Russi aka Saif Ali Khan in the film.
Review by Rohit Bhatnagar on Deccan Chronicle
Over to the actors now. Rangoon will surely be remembered for its performances. Shahid Kapoor is too good in his act of a soldier. Kangana suits the part in her bubbly role of a superstar of that era. Saif Ali Khan steals the show as an arrogant and dominant film producer. All other supporting actors did a fair job too. Rangoon is definitely not avoidable but it is certainly not a Vishal Bhardwaj masterpiece.
Review by Mayank Shekhar on Mid-Day India
Since I got to this party early, must say, it won’t surprise me if you were kinda confused over whether this is really a movie about a faux fem-dom, pre-modern feminista Julia, a cinema stunt-queen and her escapades; or if this is basically a war-movie. It appears the filmmakers were keen to make a film on India during World War 2, because, to the best of my knowledge, no one has. Julia, the heroine at the centre, is a minor McGuffin at best.
Review by Vishal Verma on Glamsham
A well shot picturesque disaster, RANGOON is Vishal Bhardwaj’s most ambitious but weakest film that tries to be everything. The alleged chopping of a good 25+ minutes by the Courts order in this 167 minute epic misfire adds more to the wounds and the chopped scenes are allegedly believed to be the one that bears similarity with Fearless Nadia of the 30’s and Julia’s character.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
For Vishal Bhardwaj, who dares to ditch his Shakespearean odyssey, this one seemed like an impossibly ambitious project. While he packs in all the attributes associated with his films — poetic dialogues, a larger-than-life canvas, a delicious serving of deceit and layered characters — it cumulatively doesn’t match up to his previous work. In quintessential Bhardwaj style of coding messages in places no one would care to look, the lyrics often relay the story. Also the composer, Bhardwaj packs in various moods in this soundtrack. From the foot thumping Bloody Hell to Tippa, a chirpy reprise of the title track he previously composed for the dubbed version of Fushigi no Kuni no Alice (a Japanese anime version of Alice in Wonderland), each one evokes a certain emotion. With a runtime of 167 minutes, this saga risked escalating into a snooze fest. But barring parts in the second half where the film seemed to slip away, it’s largely bearable, if not wildly enjoyable.
Rangoon Review by Indiaglitz
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.These scenes are important ones and needed some good writing attached to it. Editing is terrible as there are many abrupt cuts, which ruins your movie watching experience.You will hardly find the magic of director Vishal Bharadwaj in the movie. The abrupt scenes and unwanted track makes the movie super dragging and boring at times.
Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
The performances are first-rate, with Kangana pulling off an act that demands daunting versatility. So good is she that it is difficult to imagine any other actress in her place diving into the role with such fierce physical energy. Both Saif and Shahid add to the weight of this project by letting its organic demands lead them rather than the other way around. Among the supporting actors, McCabe and Saharsh Shukla (as Miss Julia’s effeminate spot boy and confidant Zulfi) stand out. Rangoon is wholeheartedly recommended but with a rider: it isn’t a stroll in the park because it demands patience and concentration. It definitely helps that the cinematography (by Pankaj Kumar) is so lustrous that you simply cannot take your eyes off the screen.
Review by Sameeksha on News18
Overall, Rangoon is not Vishal Bhardwaj’s most glorious of works but it has its own strengths. It is one of his most simple yet engaging stories that show you many colors and layers without actually deviating from the main plot. Rangoon deserves a watch for its smart sub-plot, Kangana-Shahid’s titillating chemistry and of course, Kangana Ranaut’s vulnerability as a popular actress turned liberated lover Julia.
Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
If you thought the end of the film were near, you would be disappointed. There is a hilarious (unintentional, of course) dramatic blow up the bridge scene in the end and Saif Ali Khan is made to pretend he’s Philippe Petit from the movie The Walk with the priceless sword instead of the balancing rod Petit carried when he walked the high wire between the Twin Towers. I tried, really hard to feel for the star and the soldier and drown in their mooch-filled kisses. But couldn’t. Shakespeare must be sighing in his grave, ‘This time Vishal Bhardwaj’s story is out of joint indeed!’
Review by Ritika Handoo on Zeenews
Vishal Bhardwaj is an auteur in Indian cinema, who literally owns every venture he sets out to embark upon. His last ‘Haider’ was a masterpiece that etched history in the minds of viewers. His latest film ‘Rangoon’ is a completely different tale where although World War II plays a crucial backdrop but he essentially happens to narrate a love story.
Review by Sarita A Tanwar on DNA India
Rangoon tries to cash in on the nostalgia factor of the fight for independence. Its relevance to this generation is something only the box-office collections will reveal. Kangana and Shahid have superb chemistry but only as long as they are at a distance (unfortunately their liplocks give away their off-screen feelings for each other).There isn’t much happening in the second half of the film. But it is the final fifteen minutes that will have you shifting uncomfortably in your seat. And the final scene will leave you cringing or giggling, which is such a pity. Unfortunately, Rangoon had all the ingredients to be heartbreaker and tear-jerker but it loses footing post-interval and then derails in the climax. The British Major is annoying and amusing in equal measures. Kangana often gets high-pitched and screechy, which takes away from her otherwise on-point performance.
Review by Subhash K Jha on Bollyspice
Kangana and Shahid are extraordinarily at-home in expressing the eruption of unpremeditated passion. Their scenes together are magically shot by cinematographer Pankaj Kumar and are elevated further to a level of liberating lyricism by Vishal Bhardwaj’s serene background score. A pity Shahid and Kangana’s time together is rationed. It ends with the Japanese soldier(played with gratifying earnestness by Soturo Kawaguchi) begging to be freed to go home to his mother.
Review by Meeta on Wogma
Ironically, many a love triangle with two men and a woman are more about the men than the woman. Many a film about patriotism are more about the men protecting the country and very little about the country herself. The women on the pedestal are taken rather for granted in the story. A lot of Rangoon is about Julia, her experiences and her reactions to those experiences. There is a psychological undercurrent of her nomadic beginnings leading to an insecurity she hides within. The countries too are given some consideration, through foreign rulers admiring the rich culture, through acts on stage.
Review by Joginder Tuteja on Movietalkies
No wonder, you do start to think loud and clear that Rangoon could have been an altogether different film and cover a much greater distance had it been spun together a tad more tightly, a few plot points could have been much better written and the climax could have been much stronger. Nonetheless, what also stays true is the fact that there was a team that thought of making something altogether different instead of getting into a quintessential Bollywood space. For the effort, visuals and the grandeur that the film carries, Rangoon does deserve an acknowledgment for sure.
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