Filled to the brim with enticing visuals and over-the-top spectacle, the Oscar-winning “RRR” is a thrilling three-hour Indian action movie. To tackle this gargantuan epic of friendship, The Daily Nebraskan’s two film critics have teamed up to detail just why “RRR” is worth your time.
“RRR” follows two Indian men on two different sides of the precipice of the Indian revolution over English oppression. The first, an officer with the English army whose relentless pursuit of justice terrifies those around him, is hiding a secret from his superiors. The other, a revolutionary leader living in the woods, is tasked with hiding out in the big city. A chance encounter forces the two men together, and they form an unlikely brotherhood, but their opposing ideologies prove fatal in their friendship.
Beyond standing for Rise, Roar, Revolt, “RRR” can also be interpreted to stand for Ram, Rao and Rajamouli. Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Jr., or NTR, and Ram Charan are two of the most successful stars working in Telugu cinema, and S.S. Rajamouli is Tollywood's biggest director. “RRR” represents a collaboration between some of Indian cinema’s most prominent voices in Rajamouli’s signature Pan-Indian style. The term is used to describe Indian films shot and released in multiple languages at once to appeal to the widest audience possible, coming to prominence with Rajamouli’s own “Baahubali: The Beginning.”
This film is a visual feast. There are so many creative camera movements, set pieces and stunts that keep the audience on their toes throughout the massive three-hour runtime. With every new action sequence, we’re blessed with more unique visuals that somehow don’t peak until the climax, and that payoff is truly remarkable. Every challenge is met with a different wild response that works wonders in terms of the fantastical nature of the film.
The storytelling in “RRR” is also phenomenal — each major character moment is met with so much weight and intrigue that the audience has no choice but to fall for the main characters. Every twist and turn is earned, and even though there are countless bizarre fight scenes and people erupting into song, it never seems out of place. The film is tasteful and outlandish, telling an amazing story about brotherhood, loyalty and determination.
Another invigorating aspect of Indian film culture represented in “RRR” is the elaborate song and dance sequences. Make no mistake, these sequences are not random; instead, they’re deeply ingrained in the country’s culture, emerging from traditional Indian musical dramas. The film’s Oscar-winning “Naatu Naatu” is a prime example of this joyous expression. The song is incredibly catchy and well worth listening to even outside the context of the film.
Too often, modern Hollywood blockbusters get bogged down with characters interjecting with quippy, ironic comments to deflate the tension of a given scene. You know the type, when the evil supervillain sneaks up behind the hero, and the hero has to say, “He’s right behind me, isn’t he?” “RRR” is free from these shackles of smarm, instead embracing total sincerity, making for a delightful viewing experience.
Like many other of Rajamouli’s films, the biggest shortcoming of “RRR” is that it leaves no room for emotional nuance. Every scene in the film feels the need to be the most explosive, extravagant, over the top spectacle you have ever seen… until the next scene. It creates a vicious cycle of the film continuing to keep outdoing itself until the audience feels tired. The movie’s three-hour runtime ends up feeling exhausting because of the constant overstimulation.
Even if the film’s titanic runtime will burn out some viewers, the blunt force trauma of entertainment offered by “RRR” makes it a film well worth seeking out. It is a proper blockbuster, and deserves to be seen in a theater.
If you have already watched and enjoyed “RRR,” make sure not to stop your journey into Indian cinema here. The country is home to a host of other amazing, over the top films. Be sure to check out Rajamouli’s other films like “Eega” and “Baahubali: The Beginning” on Netflix. Additionally, there are many other exceptional Indian films ranging from arthouse classics like Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy to Ramesh Sippy’s acclaimed action-adventure epic “Sholay”.
In the words of Academy Award winner Bong Joon-Ho, “Once you get over the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many amazing films,” and “RRR” is without a doubt one of those amazing films.