RRR has been in the news since the time it was announced and rightly so as it is not everyday you see two superstars of Telugu industry coming together. Facing numerous delays due to the pandemic the film has finally hit the theatres today.
RRR is directed by S.S. Rajamouli who has been introduced to the non Telugu audience due to the hugely successful Baahubali movies. Now if you have been following S.S.Rajamouli’s work, in his movies the hero is always larger than life like in case of Shankar’s films.
What is the next film you make after Baahubali is a question which must have haunted S.S.Rajamouli for a while. He wanted to make a film with two superstars, before RRR he was working on a love story featuring Ram Charan and N.T.R Junior which then later became RRR.
RRR is a fictionalised historical tale, a genre which has rarely been attempted in India. It is a fact that two popular stars of this stature coming together would have happened only with films of Shankar or S.S.Rajamouli.
Before talking about what I liked about the movie, let me focus on what did not work for me. Revenge has always been a major plot point in all S.S.Rajamouli movies be it Simhadri, Vikramarkudu, Eega and Baahubali. They all worked because the audiences were rooting for justice to be done to the victims. This aspect along with strong villains have been a major point in all his films. Sadly RRR underdelivers in both of these aspects.
RRR is inherently an Indian film, when I say Indian, I can say for sure after a long time we have seen such perfect song placements. In Indian films songs play a vital role, in fact situations are created for songs. Naatu Naatu is a perfect song for this, you have two superstars who are known for their dancing skills and any other director would have used it unimaginatively as an intro song or when both characters meet. But Rajamouli delays this payoff and sets up a wonderful scene leading to this foot tapping number.
Mild Spoilers ahead
We have a scene where the Britishers mock N.T.R Junior and ask him if he can dance. Now we know this is a small fan tribute for N.T.R fans who know he can dance exceptionally well. The beauty lies in how Rajamouli weaves this so elegantly with the story before giving us this spectacle.
The second scene is when Bheem (N.T.R Junior) is being flogged by Ram (Ram Charan) and the former sings a song which becomes a rousing theme.
Mild Spoilers end
The revenge angle does not work here, Bheem is in search of a girl but the problem here is we don’t see any scenes which establishes their relationship. It happens much later where again a song plays an important role.
With Ram the backstory helps in the second half, but the impact is less in Telugu as Ajay Devgn is a miscast and his dubbing does not work, I wish they had taken a south Indian actor for this role.
Historically not much information is available about both these iconic freedom fighters as most of Indian history is dominated by Gangetic history while the Deccan and South have been largely ignored.
For Ram’s character S.S.Rajamouli sticks more or less to history and even gives him a Seetha and a happy ending. Alia Bhatt even in her small role excels and just reminds us why she is one of the best actresses of our times.
N.T.R Junior is collaborating for the fourth time with S.S.Rajamouli and it is great to see how he has grown as an actor and this is the only film with S.S.Rajamouli where I wished N.T.R Junior’s role had more meat.
Ram Charan is collaborating with S.S. Rajamouli for the second time and like N.T.R junior he has improved as an actor, this sees him move a notch upwards from his last hit, Rangasthalam.
It is ironic that both N.T.R Junior and Ram Charan had S.S.Rajamouli as director for their second film when their much hyped debut did not work. This might not be S.S.Rajamouli’s best script but this is one of the biggest visual spectacles I have witnessed on Indian screen.
We don’t simply see just powerful heroes, even when they are introduced they are bruised and beaten until the climax where they go on annihilation mode. The interval block is one of the best, and it’s a surprise as to how S.S.Rajamouli connects it to the introduction scene of N.T.R Junior, sheer cinematic brilliance.
The problem lies with the second half, the climax fight is mounted on a large scale but then stakes are not there unlike the pre interval fight where we are invested to see how the characters will react when one of them has betrayed them.
The climax does not have an emotional arc, we have Britishers but then we do not care about them much. The climax when Ram transforms into Alluri Seetarama Raju character is a whistle worthy moment and from there on the last 20 minutes is just pure adrenaline rush.
Is this the best film of S.S.Rajamouli? The answer to that is a no. But like every creator of repute, he gives full paisa vasool entertainer and this is his wish fulfilment of working with the two stars. To outsiders this would not seem a big deal but for Indians and especially Telugu audiences this is a big deal as such things rarely happen. The best example I can give is to imagine Iron Man and Batman coming together in a film.
At a run time of 3 hours some of the scenes might not work for non Telugu audience in the first half and some references might create confusion. Alluri Seetarama Raju is not lord Rama as most north Indians are confusing about.
S.S.Rajamouli gives Bheem the credit for the costume change for Alluri Seetarama Raju while the latter is given credit for Jal Jungle Jameen slogan.
After a long time, I enjoyed watching a FDFS film in theatres with fellow cinegoers with no covid related restrictions. This deserves a big screen experience for sure.
I hope this film manages to signal that Indian cinema is back and brings back the audience to the cinema hall.