Rangoon trailer: Tame on surface but enough elements to look for

Posted by Kaahon Desk On January 12, 2017

It is more or less safe to comment that if there is one director who has consistently delivered the most memorable cinematic experiences within the parameters of mainstream Bollywood in the recent years, it’d be Vishal Bhardwaj. And just like with any filmmaker of merit, his films inevitably results in a polarised reaction from the audience. With his upcoming film Rangoon, the polarisation has apparently started with the release of the trailer itself!

From the trailer, it sees that the film follows three main characters played by Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Shahid Kapur respectively who find themselves caught in a romantic triangle against the backdrop of the turbulent times in 1944. In the historical context of India’s Freedom Struggle and Japan’s military campaign in Burma, Saif Ali Khan plays a rich and suave man, complete with the tuxedo and carnation sporting get up with active interest in the film industry among other things. On the request of the British authority, he sends his muse and movie star played by Kangana Ranaut, to the Burmese front for the troop’s entertainment. The responsibility of her safety and general wellbeing falls upon a soldier played by Shahid Kapur and apparently there begins a conflicted romantic drama which plays out against the violent backdrop.

The trailer can be applauded for its eye for detail in building an authentic backdrop for the narrative to unfold and also various clues it leaves for the audience to speculate upon. The long shots of the Bombay Streets marked with the presence of the iconic Flora Fountain along with trams, carts and vintage cars and the Eros Theatre resonate with a sense of authenticity which certainly could have been more effective with better quality CGI works. Unfortunately for some reason Bollywood seems to really lag behind in this department while keeping at the attempts film after films. There is also a shot of a military/political address where the stage backdrop is adorned by flags of India and japan side by side. This might hint towards the historical narrative strand of Subhas Chandra Bose’s alliance with the Japanese against the British. This can add an exciting shade to the conflict between the two male leads, playing the businessman and the soldier respectively, escalating the entire thing to an epic level which would put things right up Vishal Bhardwaj’s alley! The most interesting aspect to look out for would be the character of the Nadia inspired movie star played by Kangana Ranaut. She comes across as quite a witty, feisty and passionate character in the trailer and her entry scene at the Burmese front is a direct nod an equally iconic scene in Apocalypse Now! (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979). The very presence of this powerful female character can very well upset or give an interesting twist to the otherwise masculine conflict and drama inherent to war films.

Interestingly, the internet has been flooded with extreme negative reactions to the trailer. This comes from a section of audience who considers it to be a sacrilege to suture a love story within a war film as they consider these two genres to be poles apart and that Vishal Bhardwaj is apparently taking the Bollywood way out! In this regard, one can only say that these click happy minions should look up from their desktops and try to find about a little film released almost 75 years ago! It was set against the backdrop of WW II and featured a classic love triangle among a beautiful woman, a suave businessman and a soldier of resistance. Released during the Allied invasion of North Africa, this Hollywood feature is titled Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942). Well, here’s looking at you…

Arup Ratan Samajdar

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