RRR Review: A Visual Masterpiece

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RRR Review: A Visual Masterpiece

Illustration: Arati Gujar

On any other Friday, walking into a movie hall at 8 AM to catch the first show of a film would be considered excessive. But not for a Rajamouli film. This is a man who gave us Bahubali 1 & 2 and just for the kind of path-breaking cinema these two films represent, I made the effort to open my day with RRR. Now, here is a film that’s already a winner for many, purely based on the kind of fan following Rajamouli and his Telugu superstars Ram Charan and Jr.NTR Reddy command. For the director’s colossal vision and how he has always surpassed the strength of the visual medium, you’re naturally expecting the unbelievable and the implausible. And though visually stunning, RRR just about falls short of recreating the emotional experience of the two films that made Rajamouli a household name.

RRR is set in 1920s India and here the fight is between the British Empire and two Indian warriors who set out to free their respective communities from the clutches of the Queen’s regime. One is Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) a police officer within the British force and the other is Komaram Bheem (Jr.NTR) a tribal leader of the Gond community in Telangana. Bheem’s mission is to rescue a little girl who was forcibly brought into the home of the ruling Brits in New Delhi. Rama Raju on the other hand is the officer appointed to identify Bheem and assassinate him. The two meet without knowing each other’s true identities, and immediately strike a friendship. When they realise that they represent two conflicting causes, hell breaks loose.

Here is a film that’s already a winner for many, purely based on the fan following Rajamouli and his Telugu superstars command.

Ram Charan and Jr. NTR, the men who helm this film, are introduced to us as two sides of the same coin. They are like fire and water and they stand on either end of the rope to create the impossible. Rajamouli constructs his heroic male protagonists straight out of Indian mythology. These are men not just with immense mental power and resolve, but with superhuman physical attributes and strength- one that would shun an army of thousand Sikhs or even single-handedly stop an infuriated tiger in his heels. They are men of valour and of virtue. They are men who can do no wrong and classic prototypes of the flawless humans many of the boys, sons, brothers and fathers of this country dream to be. RRR is an ode to testosterone driven cinema. So blatant is the mythical inspiration, that during the big crucial climax, Ram Charan transforms into a god-like persona and battles British soldiers with bow and arrows.

RRR is a visual masterpiece with spectacular visual effects from frame one.

RRR is a visual masterpiece with spectacular visual effects from frame one. VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan and his army of VFX teams create scenes that push your own mental boundaries of what humans and other living creatures on earth are capable of. Be it Jr.NTR’s tussle with a tiger, or Charan’s fight against an entire village, or the stunning scene with the two on a bridge trying to save the life of a little boy in the river, RRR gives us many moments of cinematic mastery that translate into exhilaration for the viewer. The film celebrates Rajamouli the writer as much as the director, simply for being able to conceptualise sequences that defy any sense of reality or simplicity.  

In RRR everything from the score to the costumes to the action to the dialogues are larger than life. Cinematographer Senthil Kumar marries his style with Rajamouli’s storytelling with such finesse, that you now know why it’s taken them five years to finish this film. It’s most entertaining and inspiring to be able to watch live-action special effects in an Indian film that is at par and sometimes even better than international films.

RRR is perhaps the kind of film that a post-pandemic world deserved. Spectacular, bombastic with a hint of recklessness and disbelief.

That said, what the film lacks is an emotional core. The story is invigorating, and you do end up walking the journey of two men trying to save their motherland but the plot just isn’t strong enough to induce the feeling of patriotism or passion towards your country that you perhaps felt in a similar period-dramas like Lagaan. Of course there is no pretence of realism in this one, to which effect both Ram Charan and Jr. NTR do incredible jobs of pulling off physically challenging parts with great skill and integrity. Ram Charan has a stronger character arc, and it’s a treat to watch him. He gives you bang for your buck, and is the best thing about RRR. There are Bollywood stars like Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn but their token performances are simply to draw in the Hindi speaking audience.

RRR is perhaps the kind of film that a post-pandemic world deserved. Spectacular, bombastic with a hint of recklessness and disbelief. It’s not a masterpiece of story-telling but visually, it reaches for the stars.

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