RRR is the epitome of “Mass Entertainment” with rich visuals and heartfelt drama

I have been excitedly waiting for RRR for as long as I can remember. It skipped multiple release dates owing to the pandemic with the latest being 7th January. This led to my excitement for the film reaching a fever pitch. The different innovative promotional materials that Rajamouli came up with for the film further added fuel to my already lofty expectations. I walked into this film with not only mammoth expectations but also an agenda to like it at any cost for if I didn’t, it would be painful.

RRR narrates the story of two fictional characters that are inspired by and named after two legendary freedom fighters from the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana regions. Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) is a marauding police officer with the British and is dedicated to the oppressive government. He is hell-bent on doing anything for a pat on the back from his masters and also an elusive promotion that he has been denied time and again. Komaram Bheem (NTR Jr.) is the protector of a tribe known as the “Gond” that resides deep inside the forests. During one of their many hunting expeditions, the British kidnap a little girl from the “Gond” community and forcibly bring her to Delhi. Bheem comes after the girl to Delhi to rescue her but for that, he has to infiltrate an impregnable castle.

The Nizam of Hyderabad warns the British of Bheem’s plans to infiltrate the British castle and how it could lead to mortal dangers for them. The British entrust Alluri Sitarama Raju with the task of Identifying and capturing Bheem in return for which he is promised the position of Special Officer in the British Police. Alluri sets out on his mission and soon comes face to face with Bheem. What happens next is what this magnum opus is all about.  

RRR is one of the grandest spectacles of Indian cinema. The film has a budget of over 400 crores and every rupee of that amount can be seen on the screen. The film starts on a devastating note with the kidnapping of the little girl forming the first scene. The uncanny background score and the mannerisms of the characters in this scene are such that it sends across the point of something sinister and terrible unfolding even before it has actually happened. This is also the scene where the primary antagonist of the film, Scott (Ray Stevenson) is set up. It conveys the value that he gives to Indian lives and that is something that Rajamouli uses time and again throughout the narrative.

Next, we move to the introduction of Alluri Sitarama Raju in a scene that will stay with me for ages. The physicality that Ram Charan brings to this scene is unbelievable and while it is something that portrays him as someone with superhuman strength, the manner in which it is envisioned and executed, made me believe that he could actually pull off what he was shown pulling off and that too in great style. Komaram Bheem’s introduction is no less. Again, the physicality that he brought to this scene helped to make every action in the scene believable and affecting. This scene has a far-reaching impact on another critical sequence of the film that is set up using this scene and would leave most audiences thrilled and exasperated later in the film.  

What makes RRR so special is the spirit and heart that it brings with it. Everything about the film is heartwarming and teaches some of the best life lessons to a generation that may be, in a way, too dumb to grasp the beauty and importance of these lessons. The film feels is a fairy tale where Alluri is an impersonation of Shri Ram and Bheem is his devoted friend, Hanuman. If you look for logic and believability in the screenplay and action, you are bound to be disappointed. But then we have to ask ourselves, why we are Ok with everything that Marvel throws at us but question the realism and believability of a film like RRR. Is it because it is homegrown or is it because we find it difficult to accept our own heroes to be superhuman. While the film often misses its point in terms of believability, it is able to infuse so much charm, heart, elevated emotions, and heroism in its set pieces that I was more than Ok to go with the flow.

A few issues did prove to be too far-fetched to suspend my disbelief and I felt that a few more re-writes would have easily nailed these issues. Having said that, I cannot help but ignore these issues as Rajamouli puts his heart and soul into building the world of RRR and presenting it in a way that is constantly engaging, heartwarming, and emotionally rewarding. Even a minor but important character like that of Ajay Devgn gets a portion that nearly feels like a film within a film. His track has a proper beginning, middle, and end as one would expect in a three-act film. If only his portions were cut out and released as a short film, it would be a massive hit. This portion not only left quite an impact on me but also elevated the overall narrative of the film by documenting the quantum of sacrifice that one of the characters was making thereby also increasing his stakes and explaining his conflicts in doing what he was shown doing.  

Ajay Devgn on the sets of RRR

90% of the film is acted out between Ram Charan and NTR Jr. and they do a phenomenal job with their respective characters. Ram Charan’s character has more conflicts and has to toggle between different shades that help him to portray a wider range of emotions and also has that wonderful surprise element about his character that makes any character even more interesting. I have always enjoyed Ram Charan’s performances but this is easily his best act ever bettering his stellar performance in Rangasthalam. I just loved how well he was able to switch between the different shades of his character. This kept the audiences guessing until the very end and kept them engrossed in the different facets of the character.

NTR Jr was immaculate as the simpleton Bheem. He is able to personify the simplicity and yet brutish strength and resolve of the character with such finesse and flair that he becomes endearing and fearsome at the same instance. I loved his camaraderie with Ram Charan. Evidently, the bond that the two share in the real world finds its way into the characters that they are playing leading to the portions documenting their friendship turning absolutely delightful. When the two men finally have to stand up against one another, their respective turmoil and pain can be experienced firsthand leading to some simmering drama. NTR Jr’s masterful rendering of his surprise and shock at the sudden turn of events later in the film was heart wrenching. One has to experience it first hand to understand what I am driving at. Suffice is to say that NTR Jr is as brilliant as a film of this nature could have asked for.

I loved Ajay Devgn’s brief cameo. His performance added a lot of weight to the story. I was in awe of his expression when he loses all that he holds dear and yet goes ahead with the task at hand teaching his son in the process how to shun personal tragedy and be focused on doing what is the need of the hour and the ask of a nation in shackles. The rest of the cast do what they are supposed to do. I have to add that Alison Doody as Lady Scott is unintentionally funny in certain scenes. Rajamouli could have cut out some of the unnecessary over-the-top rambling of the character. That would have actually made her fearsome and left quite an impact on the narrative.

RRR is one of the best-looking films to have come out of India in years. It has some really good visual effects. While there are a few effects shot that do not work quite as well as the others, none of it ever gets so bad that it spoils the fun or impact of the narrative. The visual palette has a lot of variations as the story moves from one milieu to another and from one period to another. KK Senthil Kumar’s camera captures every bit of the vitality and organic chaos that was British Colonial India in its vitality and vigor. His exciting capture of the action sequences particularly impressed me even though the editing of these sequences and the use of wire works and slow-motion could have been smoother and better.

RRR is the epitome of mass entertainer well done. It is everything that the commercial and enjoyable Indian films of the 80s and 90s used to be a whole lot more. I cannot emphasize enough on how important and well-executed the message of the film is. Interestingly, it is interwoven in the narrative and presents itself through actions and not dialogues. While the writing and the realism of the film go haywire in the second half, I was still able to enjoy the film and remain invested in the narrative because of how heartfelt and engrossing it was. That tells us something about the power of innovative execution and the heart that Rajamouli brought to the film. RRR is a visual extravaganza that is characterized by stellar performances and Rajamouli’s masterful direction. It is a spectacle to be witnessed in theaters alone. Don’t wait for OTT. Just go ahead and enjoy this film on the biggest screen possible. You will not regret it.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

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