Rangoon is a visual spectacle that's marred by weak writing
Rangoon suffers from a disjointed narrative; it is easily one of the weakest films of Vishal Bhardwaj's career. The movie's greatest strength is its superb performances and the attention to period detail. Rangoon is a visual spectacle that's marred by weak writing. While Bhardwaj depicts Northeast India like no filmmaker has ever done, it is a real pity that the screenplay fails to live up to the movie's visual grandeur. Bhardwaj tries hard to evoke films like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, Inglorious Basterds, etc. but never really succeeds. Vishal Bhardwaj is a gifted filmmaker who has made memorable films like Maqbool, Omkara and Haider but in Rangoon he appears to be handicapped by a story which despite showing promise never really takes off. The movie's first half is completely flat and although the movie does pick up in the second half it fails to pack a punch. Rangoon's ending is suggestive of a filmmaker desperate to redeem himself. Remember, Bhardwaj's previous film Haider had received severe backlash from certain sections in India for portraying the Indian army in a rather bad light and so keeping that in mind Rangoon, with its overtly patriotic appeal (especially its ending), seems like the perfect antidote.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.