RANGOON Movie Review: Is it subliminal mockery of Bose’s INA?




That’s how it looks to this ultra-sensitive reviewer who is aware of the wily and devious ways the ‘Bharat Tere Tukdae Honge’ cabal operates in Bollywood. Vishal Bhardwaj and his mentor Gulzar are suave and sophisticated kingpins of this gang that uses the platform of cinema for subtle and subliminal anti-national messaging smartly camouflaged in their stylized filmfaking and seemingly absurdist writing. I don't trust them even a wee bit. They are capable of mocking and denigrating nationalist icons in subtle sublime ways.


They espouse the cause of separatists and subversives of all varieties. It’s the ‘namakharam’ and bastardised Bollywood brigade of left-liberal traitors who live off our soil and money & yet constantly try to weaken the foundations of the Indian state. 


This film is set in World War II period and is apparently supposed to be a tribute to the Indian National Army (INA) of Neta Ji Subhash Chandra Bose. It looks more like an insensitive mockery of the great movement that finally led to India’s freedom. Those who know their history are well aware of the kind of role INA played, in spite of its failure, in the eventual political freedom of India in 1947.


It’s a shoddily developed, and directed stylized musical-thriller around four characters. Rustom "Rusi" Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) is a film producer who specializes in action films. Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut) is a female action/stunt star who plays the leading lady of his films. He picked this ‘banjaran’ up from streets and made her into a star. Rusi was an action star himself but after having lost his arm in an accident, turned to film production. Rusi and Julia are in love. An English Army officer Major General Harding (Richard MacCabe), who is very fond of everything Indian, asks Rusi to organize a tour of Ms. Julia to forward areas in the North East to entertain British Indian Army soldiers posted there. Rusi has no choice but to agree after the British officer promises total protection to the touring entertainers. Some Indian nationalists decide to use Ms. Julia’s tour to smuggle a precious sword to Burma to help Bose’s INA that needs funds for its impending India campaign since the Japanese are not helping them much. The film is about the transportation of that sword. The British appoint Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor) in-charge of Ms. Julia’s life and property. Nawab Malik was a POW of the Japanese who somehow escaped from their captivity and knows the frontline very well.


So, we have our triangle of love in place. Julia falls in love with Nawab as both are stranded in the jungle after the Japanese fighter planes strafe and bomb the touring party. Rusi senses what is going on between the two and is damn pissed off with Julia. Nawab’s identity (he is an INA officer) and the plot to smuggle the sword is also revealed to the British ultimately. They arrest him. The nationalist cause is jeopardized. Will the sword reach INA? What happens to Ms. Julia, Nawab, and Rusi?


Think of the most probable denouement of the story and you may have got it right. However, the problem is somewhere else. The damn idiotic screenplay of the film is an insult to the memory of INA and Bose. The ludicrous climax sequence hammers that insult deeper into the psyche of discerning viewers. It’s a deliberate mockery and an unpalatably stylized caricature.


I’m not even talking about the absurdity of ‘a sword’ being the raison d'être of the success and failure of the INA campaign of war or the idiotically and most implausibly developed plots and scenes of the story without head or tail. Even the triangular romance of lead characters is pathetically developed.


The screenplay writers Matthew Robbins, Vishal Bhardwaj & Sabrina Dhawan have delivered a third class mishmash of a stylized musical, replete with crappy & repetitive Vishal Bhardwaj music and equally crappy copycat Gulzar lyrics. You cringe at the very idea of such an insipid film having been made against the backdrop of INA’s struggle.





Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, Produced by Raj Shah, Vishal Bhardwaj, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Written by Matthew Robbins, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sabrina Dhawan, Starring Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Music by Vishal Bhardwaj, Lyrics by Gulzar & others, Cinematography by Pankaj Kumar, Edited by Aalaap Majgavkar, Production companies - Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, VB Pictures, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Distributed by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

Rajesh Kumar Singh

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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