Wow! It was Friday, even before we could say ‘Thank God’, and He had given us a little more to cheer, it was Shivarathri, and the movie release – Rangoon. Thank you god! We said. A lil too soon we thought, thinking back a little afternoon that day.
I salivated at the thought of the treat from Wednesday (the next Wednesday was Ash) on. Even decided to do the piety of lent for a couple of days – practice run for the coming feast. Rangoon is a Vishal Bhardwaj film, and it had Shahid (with whom he has never really failed, not just that but even gave Shahid new life) and then gorgeous Kangana. Vishal had gotten back to form with Haider after a bit of a slip with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, but then with MKBKM would have been difficult to get Imran to be Amir, and even the confidence of blowing the breath of life into Shahid didn’t help then. Cut to the present, Imran seems to have retired and must be in the same state of bliss as Abishek the Bachan! So, move on we will.
And come Friday we rushed about all the chores of the morning and got to the theater for the first show (yes, first day first show). Ah! Shiva’s slumber and the producer having to talk with the Censor board guys seemed to have effected the guys in Mumbai. The censor board is the joker in the pack that brings more tears than laughter. Our censor board is the most hardworking team on earth. Their sharp scissors can’t seem to have enough. They chopped off the kiss from the Bond flick Spectre and with it all of Monica Bellucci, making it a total waste of a cinema outing. We will save the stuff they did Under My Burkha for later. Moving on, after an hour’s wait the movie began. All the better for the lovely feast we thought, licking jowls in anticipation, thoughts that voiced itself in that hall, the 10 of us in the stall (the 11.30 morning show and it eventually got us to Rangoon at 12.30) were fairly well acquainted by now. And because of this instant camaraderie we also found out that in this digital age the movies are streamed at the theaters, show after every show, and that these guys had some issue with the film certificate.
OK, movie now. It was really nice to see Kangana on screen, it was nice every time she was on. Oh, Shahid was solid too, that boy has been working very hard, the debacle that was Mausam, an indulgent one which his father mounted for his son, did disturb his inner blocks. And he continues his good from from Udta Punjab. Saif’s struggle continues, he looks good, he gets to wear crisp tux en-all, the creases in place period wardrobe. Yes, he does carry it off and well, sometimes it just becomes that, and them clothes does not maketh the man. Earnest, oh he was! Also there was Richard McCabe, he had a lot of screen time, if he was out to get us to loathe him, he did a good job of that. He was just over the top, and his Urdu and Hindi mostly made you cringe. So it was nice to see him shot down after that fearless Nadia train rescue, very short lived that was, he came back and how! Kangana’s fearless Nadia would have made Mary Evans proud (yes another Aussie reference) and a lot many others too. She is fragile, strong and she soars, and she lifts your heart. Will the melancholy that only seems to add further to her sparkle consume her too soon? Her screen presence is almost Brandonesque.
The sets and the bridge to Rangoon, the scenic Arunachal Pradesh were just very small drops that promised a downpour this summer. So like one swallow and a few little water drops does not a summer thirst quench, Rangoon too does very little. Rather disappointing horse at the Race from the Vishal stable. So, in some ways it was like the debacle that was Rajni’s Baba(2002_film) . Well, scale it down a bit, and the impact in this small world would have the same feeling of hurt. Rangoon did however get me to dig out a copy of another war flick (Aussie reference again) about the girls who went on to entertain the troops – The Sapphires. And that lovely sound track.
Rangoon OST was bloody good too.
OK, now for the script. Yes, it had lots packed into it. Vishal was through, so when he made Saif’s Billimoria walk the tight rope and then take off his hand at the wrist very early in the movie, he was setting up a finale that would take the whole lovely bridge down and with it your heart and let you wallow in your tears of loss and love, and also love of our country, that heady concoction was flat beer – neither foster nor our own kingfisher. But there is that wooden feeling, quite like billimoria’s mechanical hand, or a hangover from cheap bad liquor.
Shahid does get you to leave your cushioned seat and stand up, with his rendition of the national anthem and his Bhagat Singh stance. Supreme court ruling of which stanza to stand for and when you could snore through, be hanged. Our patriotism being defined by lathi and gun yielding unruly, lacking any culture could do with this selfless lesson no? OK no! But then that is the farther-est we are from today. We understand en-mass chest thumping to lies and self love. Well, that is not the reason why the film didn’t do well at the box office. Rangoon does test your patience quite some in the first half and then the second half gets muddled up with too many of the subplots having to knit. Vishal does lose it every now and then, and sometimes when he thinks he has got it, he has lost you. Was it the big budget and scale that made him lose it? Was he infected with the same virus that got Anurag Kashyap when he was in Bombay ?
And for that triangle that Shadid, Saif and Kangana play, is but just a Tinny percussion discord. Can a girl love two men? Can two men live with the love of one girl? Well, NO answers, maybe they were not even the questions that were asked. But if you ended up asking, then you have Billimoria left alone to walk the tight rope with a tattered flag and a battered hand. Love is a just a thin veiled backdrop, but it still gets the lot of them to perform very brave acts like with grenades and bullets in the brain .
The old world trying to speak to the shallowness of the new world will let your art down. Like after all that tough kissing in the movie, the big question Kangana got asked many-times over was, ‘who is a better kisser, Shahid or Saif?’ hmm m…
Oh yes, Kangana does take a big part of you when she leaves saying, my soul left with the Soldier and of-course ‘Bloody Hell!’ nice touch with that as the famous last words, but the cgiafter a big let down. All puns and spoilers intended.