The Indian action epic has become an international sensation and puts most Hollywood productions to shame
RRR is a three hour historical fiction action epic that quite honestly puts most other big budget productions to shame. It’s the kind of genuine extravagance that so few blockbusters possess nowadays; a wholehearted commitment to its awesome spectacle and heightened emotions that turns what could easily be a ridiculous and cheesy tall tale into a compelling saga by the sheer power of its sincerity.
If the words “three hour historical fiction action epic” strike fear into your heart and make you instinctively want to seek comfort with your go-to sitcom, I see you and I hear you, but RRR is worth making an exception for. All three hours fly by at a perfect pace with each one more riveting than the last. It’s a whirlwind of action, music, drama, heroics, excitement, philosophy, anti-colonial messaging, even a bit of romantic comedy tossed in for good measure, but that eclectic mix of genres and ideas create a distinct style and story all its own that’s unlike anything before it.
RRR stands for Rise, Roar, Revolt – an appropriately mighty name for a film like this that makes for one of the hardest title drops you’ll likely ever witness. It follows the lives of two real-life Indian revolutionaries: Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju. These freedom fighters waged a righteous insurrection against British rule across India in the 1900s and have been celebrated as legends and martyrs in the century since. RRR captures the larger-than-life essence of the two men in the most rousing and entertaining way possible.
Look no further than how the two main characters are introduced. Director S.S. Rajamouli begins showing off right away, in an early action sequence that reminds audiences why he’s one of the best and biggest filmmakers in Indian cinema. Ram (Ram Charan) is a police officer with an extreme dedication to climbing the ranks and receiving a promotion. When a large rioting mob descends upon the station he’s guarding, Ram jumps directly into the crowd and takes on an endless barrage of assailants. The action just keeps on going, displaying Ram’s superhuman dexterity and military-like drive to accomplish whatever his task may be.
Likewise, we first see Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) face off with both a wolf and a tiger out in the jungle, a display of our second hero’s strength and speed and significant connection to nature. These effects-heavy setpieces are tremendous, and Rajamouli constantly outdoes himself with each consecutive one. What could easily come across as unintentionally hilarious is instead far too genuinely badass to laugh off. The size and intensity of the action is only so exaggerated as to match the melodrama of the film’s story, which delivers equally massive emotional stakes.
A young girl (Twinkle Sharma) from the marginalized Gond tribe is kidnapped and enslaved by Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody). Bheem is the tribe’s protector and travels to Delhi in search of the girl. When the government gets wind of his mission, they offer Ram just the promotion he’s been working towards all his life in exchange for bringing Bheem in alive to torture and execute.
The two end up meeting when they both act to rescue a kid from a destructive train explosion. It’s an incident that strongly bonds the two and they form an invincible friendship, which of course we know will eventually be tested. Neither one knows who the other really is or just how directly their goals conflict. It’s juicy and engaging drama that never plays out exactly how you might guess, with those heightened emotions going hand in hand with the film’s giant exciting action sequences.
RRR is the kind of spectacular cinematic excess that miraculously works on nearly every front. From its gorgeous locations, sets and costumes to the outstanding performances from the cast, an impeccable collection of music from Rajamouli’s frequent collaborator M.M. Keeravani, jaw-dropping action and a cathartic story of two mythic warriors, RRR is a must-see for any self-respecting movie lover. Hollywood could and should be taking notes.
‘RRR’ is now streaming on Netflix in Hindi and on Zee5 in its original Telugu.