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#FilmReview: ‘RRR’ — Two Stars Caught In An Unending Fight Sequence

‘RRR’ is constructed like a video game where the warriors have to go from level one to two to three to whatever to get to their goal or girl

Suparna Sharma Mar 26, 2022

Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. in a still from 'RRR.'

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RRR (Hindi, Telugu) 2D & 3D

Cast: NT Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Olivia Morris, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, Alia Bhatt

Direction: S.S. Rajamouli

Rating: ★★

In theaters

S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR is big, not just in terms of the time it takes to do its business, but also because of the extravagant, elaborate, CGI-enhanced fight sequences it creates so that two of Telugu cinema’s biggest stars can have a go at each other or another.

In fact, for large swathes of RRR — short for Roudram Ranam Rudhiram — it felt like I was watching a ₹550 crore video game mounted on a massive scale for the big screen.

Spread over three-hours-and-one-minute, RRR is like a long Chitrahar of fight scenes. These sequences, where Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr lunge, pounce and jump from one brawl to another, could have been entertaining and engaging if there were an emotional connect with them. But Rajamouli, who has written the film’s script with his daddy K.V. Vijayendra Prasad, doesn’t tie together these battles with a story. He just gives us two situations and two good guys on two missions who need to beat up the bad guys. 

Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr do all the heavy lifting in RRR, yet I felt exhausted at the end of it as if I too had carried some of the burden of the film. I had, actually. The burden of staying awake when after the first fight sequence, it’s all just more of the same, again and again.  
 

RRR is set in 1920 when India was under the hukumat of angrez log. The colonizers were white, wily and bad, the desis were simple, poor but good. 

One day one white lady in a gown saunters into a village with her huge entourage. The tribal villagers sit around on their haunches, while a little tribal girl, Malli, puts some cute mehndi on white lady’s hand. When she’s done, the lady in gown, who is the wife of governor Scott, gestures and little Malli is thrown into her car. 

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Malli’s mommy pleads and begs, Malli screams and weeps, but the mean white people drive away, leaving a bloody trail of pain and rage.

Elsewhere, a large group of desis in khadi kurta-pyjama-pagri ensemble are seething with anger because Lala Lajpat Rai has been attacked by gora cops. They begin attacking a police station.  

These two dire situations require the presence of two daring men. Rama Raju (Ram Charan) is a cop with a back story and a grouse, Bheema (NT Rama Rao Jr) is a Gond tribal with an unsettling reputation. Rama Raju seeks a perfect appraisal and a promotion, Bheema is driven by divine cussedness, a special trait of the Gond people.

Rama Raju single-handedly disperses the mob after breaking many swatantra sangrami limbs, while Bheema leaps and bounds in a forest to tackle and capture a tiger en route to rescuing Malli.

The cop is assigned to capture the Gond. But as it happens in films, because of fake identities and general incompetence all around, the two become tight BFFs, go on joint rescue missions, joke, sing, dance, ride bikes, flirt with ladies, and keep sending out big smiles and pulsing little hearts to each other till a misunderstanding and a snake bite separate them.

RRR movie still
NTR Jr. and Ram Charan in a still from ‘RRR’

RRR is constructed like a video game where warriors on a mission have to go from level one to two to three to whatever to get to their goal or girl. 

After every fight, the level changes. The setting is new, the hurdles intensify, the weapons become more lethal, but it’s still same-to-same dhishum-dhishum. 

The violence in RRR is shocking at times, and the action sequences have epic proportions, especially in 3D when splinters and sand fly in your face. The fights involve tigers, bear, wolves, deer, fire works, water works, bikes, bombs and guns till we come to the last one where Raju changes his get-up mid-fight and discards all weapons for a bow and arrow.

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Given the amount of money, love and TLC that RRR has invested in its fight sequences, it would have been fair to give its action director and CGI head honcho co-direction credit.

There is a bit of Hanuman in Bheema and a bit of Lord Ram in Rama Raju, but both the characters are based on real-life Telugu revolutionary leaders who fought the British for the rights of adivasis.  

Alluri Sitarama Raju was called the ‘hero of the jungle’ and was known for his chutzpah. He would often leave behind a letter informing the police of what he and his men had taken, daring them to a chase. Komaram Bheem was a revolutionary leader from the Gond tribe who gave the slogan ‘Jal, Jangal, Zameen’ and is linked to the Telangana statehood fight. RRR reduces these fascinating men to two good guys with muscles. 

Though we get an elaborate backstory for Rama Raju involving revolutionary daddy (played by Ajay Devgn), the problem is that RRR makes no real investment in its two lead characters. We don’t get to know Bheema or Rama Raju beyond their mission and morals. The film is just interested in the star power of its lead actors and the high-jinx dancing and long fight sequences where these two men can leap, lurch, kick and kill. In fact, Mr and Mrs Scott, and the girl Jenny (Olivia Morris) who lives with them and has a soft spot for Bheema, are more fleshed-out characters with some personality. 

Governor Scott, played by Ray Stevenson, and Mrs. Scott, played with a regal evil glint in her eyes by Alison Doody, are very good.

Good guys may have won the battle in RRR, but it’s the evil guys who stay with you after the film is finally over.

Watch the trailer for ‘RRR’ below.

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