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RRR Review: Compelling tale is a triumph for Tollywood

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RRR is an anti-colonial drama that focuses around two real-life freedom fighters, Komaram Bheem (played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) during a period when India was under the rule of the British Empire. Photo: Netflix
RRR is an anti-colonial drama that focuses around two real-life freedom fighters, Komaram Bheem (played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) during a period when India was under the rule of the British Empire. Photo: Netflix

After yet another box office smash, Indian filmmaker S. S. Rajamouli is showing the world that audiences want less Hollywood and more Tollywood – the name given to Telugu-language film.

Topping Netflix in over 62 countries with 47 million hours being watched within the first month, Rajamouli’s epic RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) has become the fifth highest grossing Indian film of all time.

RRR is an anti-colonial drama that focuses around two real-life freedom fighters, Komaram Bheem (played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) during a period when India was under the rule of the British Empire.

“On hearing about his sister’s kidnapping, revered revolutionary Komaram Bheem seeks out the perpetrators to free her and reap vengeance against them and their tyrannical regime.”

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Set around Delhi in the 1920s, the epic tale begins with the abduction of an innocent girl named Malli and the murder of her mother from the Adivasian Gond tribe by British Governor Scott (played by Ray Stevenson) and his wife Cathy (played by Alison Doody).

On hearing about his sister’s kidnapping, revered revolutionary Komaram Bheem seeks out the perpetrators to free her and reap vengeance against them and their tyrannical regime.

When word of the rescue reaches the authorities, up and coming British Officer Alluri Raju volunteers his services to find and arrest Bheem before he gets to the Governor.

When word of the rescue reaches the authorities, up and coming British Officer Alluri Raju volunteers his services to find and arrest Bheem before he gets to the Governor. Photo: Netflix
When word of the rescue reaches the authorities, up and coming British Officer Alluri Raju volunteers his services to find and arrest Bheem before he gets to the Governor. Photo: Netflix

Their true identities unbeknown to each other, the two strike up an unlikely best-friendship that would set them on a twisted and emotional course toward a final confrontation.

RRR is the quintessential Tollywood film, showcasing the best in action, choreography and gravity-defying stunts that put Marvel to shame.

More than this, it incorporates these sequences seamlessly into a compelling story that is filled with colour, song, dance and deep emotions.

“RRR’s success amidst it’s outrageous actions is largely attributed to how the two main characters are introduced, setting the rules for what they can and can’t do early on in this world.”

One of Rajamouli’s greatest successes in RRR is the way in which he is able to keep the audience captivated amidst the most outrageous and unbelievable actions.

This is largely attributed to how the two main characters are introduced, setting the rules for what they can and can’t do early on in this world.

Once you see Raju beat down thousands of angry rioters or Bheem single-handedly outrun and capture a tiger, nothing falls outside the audience’s suspension of disbelief.

Add the fact that RRR encompasses as much originality and creativity as classics Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or The Matrix, and you know you are in for an entertaining ride.

From the opening riot sequence up until the final big prison escape, Rajamouli’s three-hour epic never runs out of steam.

Moving through genres effortlessly, audiences will marvel at the change between action to drama to buddy film to romance.

“Credit must be given to the screenwriters who have constructed an engrossing narrative that unpacks fundamental themes of family, friendship, loyalty, revenge and colonialism …”

It’s truly impressive to witness a fun Dance-off turn into a fiery massacre without compromising the overall story.

Credit must be given to the screenwriters who have constructed an engrossing narrative that unpacks fundamental themes of family, friendship, loyalty, revenge and colonialism while keeping audiences on the edges of their seats.

Lead actors Rao Jr and Rama give standout performances, showing an impressive range of emotion and acting ability.

Rajamouli's RRR incorporates these action sequences seamlessly into a compelling story that is filled with colour, song, dance and deep emotions. Photo: Netflix
Rajamouli’s RRR incorporates these action sequences seamlessly into a compelling story that is filled with colour, song, dance and deep emotions. Photo: Netflix

Their onscreen chemistry and commitment to their roles make their scenes some of the most memorable.

This friendship forms the heart of the film and audiences will not just believe in it but will be moved by it.

Unfortunately where RRR falls flat is in the writing and representation of the British, particularly Governor Scott and Bheem’s love interest Jennifer.

“With its beautiful cinematography and catchy scores, this Tollywood saga is best viewed on a big screen.”

Their awkward, and sometimes comical, delivery and dialogue make their characters wooden and one-dimensional.

But the film isn’t hindered by this too much and it isn’t long before Bheem is back beating up Brits while Raju is on the hunt.

With its beautiful cinematography and catchy scores, this Tollywood saga is best viewed at the cinemas or on a big screen.

RRR, rated MA for strong themes and violence, is currently streaming on Netflix.

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