Rangoon review – Bollywood goes to war with epic that ably bridges east and west

Rangoon review – Bollywood goes

Rangoon review – Bollywood goes to war with epic that ably bridges east and west

Rangoon : Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor star in an African Queen-ish love triangle yarn set against the second world war campaign in southeast Asia

Characterful ... Rangoon.
in this time of pronounced division, it’s reassuring to know east and west can still play nicely together. Vishal Bhardwaj, the director of several impressive Shakespeare-goes-Hindi adaptations (Maqbool, Omkara), here teams with sometime Spielberg screenwriter Matthew Robbins for a sweeping second world war epic that (ironically) describes a collision of worlds: on one side of the widescreen frame is showbusiness, on the other the theatre of war. This being Bollywood, the centre is occupied by a love triangle enacted by more characterful types than those Pearl Harbor excavated: a spoilt silver-screen goddess (Kangana Ranaut) drafted to entertain British Indian army troops in Burma, the suave yet possessive one-armed impresario accompanying her (Saif Ali Khan) and the no-nonsense soldier boy (Shahid Kapoor) left chaperoning our heroine after her convoy is bombed.
The jungle-bound first half deliberately throws back to The African Queen, with Kapoor toughening up his charge while generating old-school chemistry with Ranaut. Yet as in his Kashmir-set Hamlet adaptation Haider, Bhardwaj also displays a sure feel for the wider conflicts surrounding his main players, painting a vivid broad-strokes picture of an India divided between the peaceable Gandhi and the punchier Subhas Chandra Bose, its British masters (capably embodied by a bilingual Richard McCabe) and a new future for itself. Post-Slumdog, Hollywood and Bollywood have repeatedly attempted to collaborate, with mixed results: here, they’ve produced a properly expansive and enthralling afternoon matinee, owing as much to the David Lean back catalogue as it does to the industry that gifted us Lagaan – and those films didn’t have dance numbers about winding up Hitler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.