Of the many releases this year, let us first explore the recent hits.
Raees was SRK’s baby, with Mahira Khan’s presence not exceeding beyond his romantic sequences and delivery of a baby boy.
Kaabil was Hrithik Roshan’s comeback film, helmed by his daddy, wherein he utilizes the prowess of his senses, other than that of sight, to take revenge on his wife’s rapists. Yami Gautam is, once again, reduced to a simpering damsel in distress with less screen space than a grandeur set in a Bhansali film.
Lastly, Jolly LLB 2 is Akshay Kumar’s renewed attempt at Mr. Goody Two Shoes, with meaty court dialogues. His wife, Huma Qureshi, is seen drinking away bhang in a Holi song sequence, or whiskey at home, or at best, emoting away from the sidelines of the court audience.
What makes actresses choose such roles? Perhaps, they are simply satisfied being cast alongside a Khan, Kumar or the likes. Or perhaps, there is still a sincere dearth of good scripts coming their way.
Now let’s come to Rangoon.
Kangana is the stand-out performer, amidst seasoned stars like Shahid and Saif.
This is not to say that Bhardwaj has showcased the heroes any less. In fact, all 3 of them have significant parts to play, in the film, and also within the complexity of each other’s lives.
As Kangana stated in Johar’s chat show, her relationship with Saif is towards one end of the spectrum of possessive and controlling, whereas her relationship with Shahid is on the other end of empowering and free, almost Sufi-like in nature.
All three of them were a class act, and one cannot imagine anyone else in their shoes.
But Kangana’s character stole the show. As Miss Julia of 1940’s, she is reminiscent of Fearless Nadia of Hunterwali fame. The darling of her audience, Julia has a feisty spirit that could only be unearthed by her romantic encountering with Nawab (Shahid) in the jungles of Rangoon. An untouchable by birth, and bought by Rusi (Saif) from her mother as a street performer named Jwala Devi, she has had a tumultuous past. But that doesn’t stop her from single-handedly saving Nawab from a moving train and recovering the Maharaja’s priceless sword for INA’s cause. She nabs bad guys just as well as she nabs her inner demons.
To portray a character, so authentically, that you laugh when she dances silly in front of Japanese soldiers, and cry when she digs a grave for her makeup man in the pouring rain, is brilliance personified.
Rangoon is Bhardwaj’s dream of casting a love triangle amid war, and he has weaved that magical world beautifully, albeit flawed in few parts, especially the unusual ending.
The muddy kiss between Nawab and Julia, and her sword exchange with the suave Rusi are some hitherto seen before moments between a leading lady and actor in Indian cinema.
Bloody hell, I’d say Rangoon is a legacy for the cinegoers and makers to come.