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RRR

We love a surprise smash hit here at rrramble, and the global success of RRR since its release on Netflix last year is no exception. The Indian Telugu-language action drama film directed by S. S. Rajamouli has garnered critical acclaim and award wins. It also made history as the only film to trend globally in English and non-English categories in Netflix's Top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks.


So what did our writers think of this Tollywood epic…


An image of the two main characters of the film, seemingly running away from something. They are both dressed in smart shirts and braces, and look exhilarated, if a little stressed. The photo has been edited to show a 'ripped' affect, revealing behind it a dark green background with pink spots in the rrramble colours.

Wayne


It’s one in the morning. I’ve worked 12-plus hours with nothing to keep me on my feet except two very cocoa-rich chocolate bars hastily eaten on the late train home. Unable to sleep, I finally threw on RRR.


I don’t know if what I’ve just watched was real or a confectionary-fuelled fever dream. Either way, I’m totally here for it. The genre “inspired by true life, rom-com, superhero, fantasy, bromance, musical” is one I never knew was missing from my life.


Set in 1920s India before independence, it’s a story of friendship, treachery, honour, and legacy. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. Well, except lovers of subtly and GB News, but we’ll get to that.


The set pieces are so big I feared my TV would explode under the strain. There’s crazy camerawork that leaves you cross-eyed. CGI-powered superhero style smackdowns. Boo-able villains. A charmingly goofy love subplot. And, of course, the blink of an eye flip from out-of-this-world action, to the musical numbers that Tollywood fans have come to expect. Baahubali director SS Rajamouli throws everything at the screen. It’s so excessive, so vivid, so untamed, yet so simple to devour despite the many entangled plotlines.


His influences are apparent. From filmmaker John Woo’s love of slow motion (the film would’ve been half the length without it), to Quentin Tarantino’s liberal interpretation of history (Bheem and Raju were real, albeit both were rebel leaders, and never met). Raiders of the Lost Ark’s sense of adventure. Point Break’s buddies from different sides of the track trope. But RRR is very much its own – wild as hell – beast. It’s like John Wick dunked in a vat of double espressos.


Carrying this mammoth movie with ease are Telugu titan actors N. T. Rama Rao Jr. as tribal warrior Bheem, and Ram Charan as Raju, the supercop who has his own reasons for wanting to take him down. Their smouldering intensity could bake a jacket potato from 50 paces.


The rest of the cast aren’t as rounded out. The late Ray Stevenson goes for a Sheriff of Nottingham vibe. Alison Doody (from Last Crusade, remember her) snarls and sneers so much her jaw must still be in traction. Every British character is a stereotype, just desserts for us doing it to others for so long. Which brings us to the elephant in the room.


One critic described the film as a “pseudo-historical blockbuster”. Personally I thought RRR was rather light on historical facts and, what some would call, woke establishment bashing. It would’ve got in the way of all the rollicking adventuring anyway. As fun as the film was, it wasn’t always an easy watch. But then neither is the news right now.


I’m no historian. But I know old sins can cast long shadows. Anything that makes you think, even in a small, brief, way, about ways to step out of them is good. And the film ends on a belter of a musical number, so there’s that. If you’ve got three-plus hours to kill, and are looking to step outside your comfort zone, you could do worse.


A man sanding holding a water hose, as around him is smoke , water and broken statues
Indian revolutionary Komaram Bheem portrayed by actor N.T. Rama Rao Jr.

Amy


RRR is an incredibly ambitious film that blends multiple genres into one chaotic, entertaining blockbuster. It tries to do everything at once. Action. Drama. Musical. Romance. Comedy. The film feels like it shouldn’t work, except it totally does!

I was first introduced to it via YouTube. I had the viral ‘Naatu Naatu’ music video on repeat. I even had a go at some of the dance moves, with cringeworthy results. As the first song from Indian cinema to win the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song, ‘Naatu Naatu’ is an impressive feat! I was curious to see if the movie would be just as much fun…

Directed by S.S Rajamouli and co-written with V. Vijayendra Prasad, the film imagines what would happen if real-life Indian Revolutionists, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheemhad had met. At just over 3 hours long, RRR is an epic watch. With moments that will make you laugh, cry, and raise your eyebrows, this is a film of unexpected twists and bizarre imagery.

We are transported back to colonial India. Malli, where a girl from the Gond tribe, is captured by the evil British governor. The evil-ness of the British is ramped up to 110%, with the characters of the governor and his wife both scarily nasty and moustache-twirlingly silly. There is conflict throughout due to the opposing sides of the two protagonists who form a close friendship. Bheem is working undercover as the aptly named ‘Akhtar’ to rescue Malli, whilst Raju is apparently loyal to the Indian Imperial Police. Both are unknowingly hunting each other down and I was left on the edge of my seat as I wondered when the secrets were going to start being revealed. Would their friendship be strong enough to survive? Meanwhile, there were romantic sub-plots and musical diversions. I loved the musical numbers so much, I wished there were more!

RRR is a lot, and I don’t think it will be to everyone’s tastes. Everything about the film is big and dramatic but at its heart, this is a story about friendship and loyalty. Being a sucker for relationships where both parties are meant to be hereditary enemies, I was moved by Raju and Bheem’s friendship. I was rooting for them throughout, even if their initial meeting was completely ridiculous and defied the laws of physics. I thought that most of the stunts and action scenes were excessively over-the-top, but that’s also what made them so original and unexpected. I especially enjoyed the big showdown. It must be the most CGI animals in one scene that I’ve ever seen. Not believable in the least, but very entertaining to watch. As Bheem and Raju started flying through the sky, fighting fire against water, I was reminded of the importance of watching a movie for the pure joy of it.

RRR has been a massive hit and a visual spectacle, helping to expose the rest of the world to the brilliance of Indian cinema. This was my introduction to Indian films, and it was an intriguing first impression. I’m excited to watch more!



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