Synopsis – A fictitious story about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in 1920’s.
My Take – Making films about Indian revolutionaries, both real and fictional, fighting against British colonial rulers have been a beloved subject for Indian filmmakers for decades now. Despite the novelty wearing off, a few still continue to present their tales with unique treatments, like last year’s unhurried cinematic gem Sardar Udham, from director Shoojit Sircar.
However, this latest pan Indian film (originally in Telugu, but dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada), has a different kind of hype machine attached to it. Mainly, as other than fact that it pairs two reigning two Telugu superstars, N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, for the first time together, but also because it is directed and written by S. S. Rajamouli, whose last film was the 2017 magnum opus, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, that still stands as the highest grossing film in India and the second highest-grossing Indian film worldwide.
Regarded as one of the highest budget films ever produced in the Indian film industry, director Rajamouli‘s latest tells a fictional story about two Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who fought against the British Empire.
But infused with his trademark dazzle and grandeur, along with vision and stunning execution, he unsurprisingly ends up delivering yet another larger-than-life visual spectacle that manages to keep you glued despite a 182 minute run time.
Yes, though it never reaches the level of exceptionality of the two Baahubali films, a seemingly impossible feat, the filmmaker’s painstaking effort shows here as he attempts to make this one too bigger and grand in every aspect, with sweeping cinematography and truly exceptional action sequences that hooks and entertains thoroughly.
It also helps that Ram Charan and Jr NTR‘s camaraderie is the pivot around which the film revolves and their charisma holds together this epic saga that should be witnessed on the biggest screen possible.
Set in the 1920s, the story follows Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) aka Ram, a young police officer serving the British Empire, and Komaram Bheem (Jr NTR), a sweet and simple member of the Gond tribe who has brute strength but uses it only when it serves its purpose.
Their paths become destined to collide when Lady Buxton (Alison Doody), wife of the feared British Empire Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Steveson), takes a young girl named Malli away from the tribe to be placed as a singing doll on her mantelpiece. Now in Delhi with a few support men, Bheem is determined to rescue her at all cost, while Ram, determined to rise above the ranks, accepts the job of catching the unknown tribal to get his desired promotion.
And when the two men with different aims end up meeting, without revealing each other’s cause, the two become friends. Hereby, setting up an ultimate showdown which may obliterate both.
Splitting the film into chapters, introducing the film’s context and its protagonists, without a doubt, this S. S. Rajamouli directorial is made for the big screen viewing. The cinematography and visual aesthetics paint every frame in a radiating manner, grandeur we come to expect from director Rajamouli‘s films. As expected, the film is one action crescendo after another, never dull but not exhausting either.
Relatively light on music and romance, the film devotes much of its screen time to visual spectacle, gonzo action, and patriotic zeal. With rousing introductory sequences for both the stars and an extended pre-interval sequence where their energies, represented by fire and water, collide, are all presented with jaw-dropping visuals, punctuated by the superbly choreographed Nacho Nacho song.
However, the heart of the film lies in the dynamic bromance shared by Bheem and Ram. Ram’s camaraderie with Bheem, who despite being polar opposite personalities, one being stoic, sophisticated and presenting an impenetrable demeanor while the other is like an open book, giving in to emotional overtures and wearing both his innocence and anger on his sleeve, help in holding interest.
Even the fight sequences involving the two men, first against each other, and then their eventual team-up, are wonderfully captured.
Of course, like most Indian films set in the colonial times in India, the British are portrayed one dimensional. Except for the character of Jennifer (Olivia Morris), every other English person in this film is vile and unhinged.
But in the end it doesn’t matter, as the film boldly proves that there is still an audience for these larger-than-life, superstar driven ensembles where every other scene is heralded by cheers and whistles from adoring fans. It stands testimony to Indian cinema’s immense potential to delve into the country’s unique history to mine rich stories which, when married with cutting edge technology, can offer up some truly mind-blowing visual wizardry.
Performance wise, both Jr. NTR and Ram Charan are formidable forces when it comes to keeping you hooked. Ram Charan amazes us with his selfish tough man act at one point, while he equally surprises us by telling his inside thoughts with his subtle performance at the other, while Jr. NTR in a more root able role is flawless. The dance sequences featuring the two actors buzz with their combined star power and the sheer energy emanating from both is so palpable, one can feel it off screen.
Alia Bhatt, who plays Ram’s love interest, has precious little to do in her extended cameo and is fine. The same goes for Shriya Saran. However, Ajay Devgn manages to leave a strong impact in his extended cameo. In supporting roles, Olivia Morris does quite well, while Ray Stevenson and Alison Doody go menacingly over the top. On the whole, ‘RRR’ is yet another visual treat, action-packed drama from filmmaker S. S. Rajamouli.
Directed – S.S. Rajamouli
Rated – NR
Run Time – 182 minutes