RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) (2022)

RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Writer: Vijayendra Prasad, S.S. Rajamouli, Sai Madhav Burra, Madhan Karky
Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Olivia Morris, Shriya Saran, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, Samuthirakani, Chandra Sekhar
Seen on: 30.3.2023

Content Note: colorism, (critical portrayal of) colonialism

India is ruled by the British and people like Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody) take advantage of it mercilessly. When they visit a withdrawn village, Catherine takes a liking to a girl, Malli (Twinkle Sharma), and simply takes her with them to Delhi. Malli’s village sends their greatest warrior, Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), after her, hoping to get her back. But Bheem’s mission doesn’t stay secret, even if nobody knows his identity. Ambitious police officer Raju (Ram Charan) volunteers to find Bheem and bring him in before anybody else can. But when their paths cross without any knowledge of who they are, the two become great friends.

RRR is (an) epic, there is no other word that will do. I’m so glad that they brought it back to the big screen for a special showing because if there is one film that should be seen as big as fucking possible, it is RRR. I was honestly floored by it.

The film poster showing headshots of the main characters of the film arranged in different sizes.

RRR is a historical fantasy, a dream about resistance against colonialism that is completely outrageous, and beautiful for it. To say that this film doesn’t believe in subtlety or understatement would be putting it mildly. It’s the kind of film where our heroes not only meet while saving a child with the most elaborate stunt, they do so while holding an Indian flag and with obvious symbolism playing out in the background.

With that approach, the film doesn’t just show us resistance in the face of colonialism, I’d go so far as to say that it is actively resisting the colonial Western gaze and Western filmmaking standards and aesthetics. That isn’t true for the entirety of the film (when you look at the love interests in the film, you see that colorism is one hell of a drug, and the film is definitely not free of white supremacist ideas there), but for large parts of it. [Speaking of the love interests: this is a film that would have screamed for a gay romance, and it’s a pity that this wasn’t done. More than just a missed opportunity, it feels outright homomisic.]

Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) facing a tiger, both snarling.

Most importantly, though, RRR is so much fun. I gasped, I flinched, I laughed, I cried… I can’t remember the last time I saw a three hour movie and didn’t think that it was too long (in fact, I can well remember sitting in 80 minutes movies and thinking it). Not only that, when they actually had a mission after close to two hours, I cried out – I didn’t want to take this break, I wanted to know what happened next! (To be fair, I could guess what would happen next, but that’s not the point.)

It’s definitely an experience to watch this film (I can imagine that streaming it at home just doesn’t have the same effect, but I will be giving it another try to make sure) – one enhanced by fantastic visuals, great music (and dances), and charismatic performances. I can only tell you to give it a go.

Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Raju (Ram Charan) hanging from a rope over water that is burning, clasping hands.

Summarizing: I was hoping for a lot and got so much more.

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