Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and V.B. Pictures Pvt. Ltd.’s Ran goon (UA) is a love story set against the backdrop of the Indian freedom movement.
Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor), like many others, is an Indian soldier who works for the British army in India. One day, he is captured by the Japanese army but he escapes from their clutches and, after some time, resurfaces in India to serve the Britishers. Nawab is sent as top film actress Julia’s (Kangana Ranaut) personal security guard when she embarks on a journey to entertain soldiers in different places because her lover, actor-turned-producer Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), sees this as the only way of making money for his company due to non-availability of imported raw stock (film negative) during the war. Rusi is married, but is also in an extra-marital relationship with Julia.
The Japanese attack Julia’s troupe but Nawab is able to save her. A few members of the troupe are killed in the attack while some go missing. Zulfi (Saharsh Shukla), Julia’s trusted spot boy, is also missing; he was last seen trying to save a trunk containing Julia’s clothes and belongings.
Nawab and Julia take days to reach India from Burma on foot and in the intervening period, their initial hatred towards each other turns into love. They also get physical.
Back in India, Rusi is happy to see Julia but he smells a rat and realises that his girlfriend may have developed fondness for Nawab. He is especially agitated because he has decided to divorce his wife so that he can marry Julia. Soon, Zulfi also surfaces again with Julia’s trunk.
Zulfi meets Nawab secretly. There is definitely something which Nawab and Zulfi are hiding. What is that? Nawab is also seen exchanging notes with an army nurse, Mema (Lin Laishram). What is the common secret that binds Nawab, Zulfi and Mema?
Soon, Zulfi and Mema are caught red-handed by the British Major General, David Harding (Richard McCabe). Does David Harding spare Zulfi and Mema? What is their crime? Julia now confronts Nawab and he lets her in on the secret. What is the secret? Does Julia become one with Nawab as far as the secret is concerned? Whom does Julia go to finally – Nawab or Rusi?
Matthew Robbins has penned an interesting love story but the war drama is a bit exaggerated. There is a sword which is shown to be so important that it has to be smuggled out and given to Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in Burma. The audience is unable to digest the fact that one sword can be so significant for the INA. The screenplay, by Matthew Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan and Vishal Bhardwaj, is written in a way that the sword becomes the most important weapon as if its mere delivery to the Indian National Army in Burma could ensure independence for India in a jiffy. Obviously, since this cannot be the case, the viewers wonder why the entire war drama revolves around one sword! The screenplay writers are unable to completely convince the audience on this point as a result of which the entire climax or, rather, the entire second half looks far-fetched. On the plus side, the writers have infused the love story with humour and reasonable passion and tension. But the second half is too long and boring at places.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are good and entertaining.
Kangana Ranaut is excellent in the role of Julia. She does a marvellous job of the top Hindi film actress and, in fact, transports the audience to the pre-Independence era by her clothes and performances. She shines with a very believable performance. Shahid Kapoor looks very handsome and acts with admirable ease. He underplays the character of Nawab Malik so beautifully that one can’t help but admire him. Saif Ali Khan is wonderful as the besotted Rusi Billimoria in the initial reels and the angst-ridden lover later. He delivers a truly fine performance. Richard McCabe makes the character of Major General David Harding entertaining; his Hindi is fun to listen to. Saharsh Shukla leaves a mark as Zulfi. Lin Laishram has her moments in the role of Mema. Alex Avery makes his presence felt as Major Williams. Nitish Pandey (as Patel), Manav Vij (as Bhairo Singh), Kashmira Irani (as Zenobia), Rushad Rana (as Hoshang Billimoria), Shriswara Dubey (as Haseena), Pooja Sarup (as Bulbul), Atul Kumar (as Chulbul), Gajraj Rao (as Ahuja), Surendra Pal (as the king), Neel (as Cyrus), Barzin (as Firdaus), Gerson D’Cunha (as Bappawa) and Kawaguchi Satoru (as Hiromichi) are adequate.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is good but, like the script, his direction also loses its grip on the audience at several places in the second half. In fact, the script as well as his narrative style cater more to the class audience than the masses. Music (Vishal Bhardwaj) is appealing but it must be added that it has a period flavour to go with the era in which the film is set, and hence it will not be lapped up too much by the audience. None of the songs is very popular and that’s a minus point. Gulzar’s lyrics are good. Song picturisations (by Farah Khan and Sudesh Adhana) are eye-filling. Vishal Bhardwaj’s background music is lovely. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is excellent. Harpal Singh Palli and Ravi Kumar’s action and stunts are exciting and thrilling. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production designing is extraordinary. Aalap Majgavkar’s editing is quite good.
On the whole, Rangoon is entertaining but it is also too long, boring in parts and more class-appealing than mass-oriented. It will, therefore, do well in select multiplexes in some big cities, but this will not at all be enough to recover the huge investment in the film even after revenues from non-theatrical sources are accounted for. In the final tally, the film will entail heavy losses to the distributors concerned.