Rangoon: A Double Edged Sword
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Rangoon is a double-edged sword. Its advantages are sometimes its disadvantages too. But what makes it interesting is the package in which it arrives. The clichés become overlookable due to the cultural significance and the afterthought of an ending seems bearable because of the fresh discoveries the film leaves you with. Rajkumar Periasamy’s directorial debut is definitely promising but it bears flaws in plenty as well.
Having migrated from Burma, Venkat (Gautham Karthik) and his family settle down in Chennai’s Burma colony to make a reasonable living. Their hopes get crushed when they meet with the demise of Venkat’s father. As time passes, Venkat brings back hope when he lands a job with Gunaseelan (Siddique), a rich and street-smart Burma Bazaar vendor. Venkat works his way up the professional ladder and is given the task of smuggling gold whilst managing a whole shop along with his two friends.
Soon, this team of three is given the task of executing a lump sum smuggling deal in the mean streets of Rangoon. Just as they are on the verge of completion, a shocking discovery of betrayal sets their hopes and dreams on fire. The manner in which they right their wrongs and resurrect their lives forms the rest of the story.
Even though Rangoon is just a little over two hours, it feels incredibly long because of the extensive details. Rangoon takes a lot of time to get to the point, so if the span of their initial establishment had been cut down, the attention span of the viewers could’ve been held in a crisper manner.
The extensive detailing the film carries is what makes the premise interesting. Venkat’s connection to his homeland and the attachment he carries for his birthplace, Rangoon seeps into our hearts only because of the detailing involved in merging both cultures. Director Rajkumar Periasamy should also be applauded for his incredibly sizeable research. Rangoon bears many resemblances to Ayan, but it overtakes the latter due to its presentation of smuggling practices in never-before-seen methods while still carefully holding on to realism.
The pacing of the film has its own pros and cons. On one hand, the racy and thrilling chase transitions quite smoothly and leaves you on the edge of your seat. But in certain thought-provoking moments, the narrative pace could’ve slowed down in order for the events to sink into the emotional palate of the audience.
Another problem in the screenplay arises when the premise of the three friends, the gold they smuggle and the betrayal they suddenly encounter bears shades to John Woo’s Bullet in the Head. Even though the resemblance ends there, a tiny title credit could’ve cleared the director’s name from fast-spreading misconceptions.
Lastly, another mishap can be observed when you realize that Venkat’s narrative actually lies disconnected to the storyline. His narration in no way contributes to the story or enhances its pace. This is one element the director should’ve done away with. In the end, it is nice to see the manner in which his family evolves. His sister’s remarriage in particular was a rare and satisfying sight to endure. But the way Venkat’s life pans out seems to be more of an afterthought.
As Venkat, Gautham Karthik delivers the best performance of his five year acting career. His dialect is positioned in an organic manner and the stunts he performs look incredibly realistic. Whether it’s reacting to betrayal or experiencing the joy of visiting his birthplace, Gautham Karthik’s scale of emotions exhibit authenticity and versatility.
Two actors who out shadow Gautham’s performance are Lallu and Daniel Annie Pope who play his childhood friends in the film. They are so effortless in their delivery and they hold screen suspense without prematurely giving hints away. Due to their apt portrayal, their presence in the film should be deemed quite significant.
Siddique eases into his role as Gunaseelan with just the right brand of conviction. But his name and the accent he holds never go well together. Either of the two could’ve been changed to make his character seem more believable.
Sana Makbul has nothing to do in the film. Her character arc as an aspiring singer should’ve been explored if they wanted her character to carry significance. If she was merely placed to play the role of a love interest why have the character at all? If the director had created more scope for the heroine, he would’ve been supportive of a healthy yet well deserved change the Tamil Film industry desperately needs.
The stunt director of Rangoon should be given his moment in the spotlight. The stunts look remarkably natural and they up the thrill factor in the scene with every punch that is thrown in. When these action sequences take place you are glued to your seat because of the suspenseful execution.
Good music and great cinematography help Rangoon in achieving a delightful blend of striking realism and dazzling thrills.
Overall, Rangoon is a clever thriller that sweeps its noticeable flaws beneath its intriguing premise. Considering all the substandard entertainment Tamil Cinema has been conjuring up off late, this film is definitely worth a watch.