RRR ★★★½

70 (Hindi language dub with English subtitles) 

RRR is an Indian Telegu-language (Tollywood) epic action drama that has had incredible worldwide box office success. It’s the third highest grossing Indian film ever according to some sources. Earning more than $10 million domestically for an Indian film is a very rare occurrence and it’s a great sign of what’s to come for the future of this style of Indian cinema coming over to the U.S. 

I have basically no experience with Tollywood movies so I had no idea what I was going into on this first watch. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the epic action drama genre in general, this movie is a gargantuan experience. RRR is truly epic with it’s absurdly over the top sequences. Some examples of this fanciful exaggeration are a man somehow successfully fighting hundreds of men in a crowd, tigers and wolves being used in combat, a man using two guns while sitting on the shoulders of another man while he’s running and even a motorcycle being picked up like it’s a Lego toy by the end. Yet, in between all of the fun action is a romcom story that turns into multiple musical dance sequences ultimately ending on a freeze frame. What I’m describing sounds like a joke but it’s not. RRR deserves the hype for simply understanding the joy that a theatrical experience can be without needing known IPs to draw in hype. 

RRR (also known as Rise Roar Revolt) really gets it’s name from the monikers of the director and the two main actors (Rajamouli, Ram Charan and Rama Rao). It was originally titled RRR as only a temporary name to show who was on the production. They ended up sticking with RRR as the real name considering the marketing weight of the three men on the project. An audience reaction like this should give you an idea of how much love there is for Ram Charan and Jr NTR. But what I found to be even more interesting is that a cameo of the director himself got some of the wildest applause in some theaters. I wish I could’ve seen audience reactions first hand for this one (I watched it on Netflix).

I’ve said more about the production than the film itself. The story is a fictional history of two revolutionaries who are best friends. Except, they realize that they’re fighting on opposite sides of 1920’s British colonialism in India. 

It’s three hours long and does feel long. But that obviously adds to the epic nature of it. Everything as a whole feels larger than standard action films. The sets are huge, the action is more over the top, the actor extras are plentiful and the stakes are always high. Emotional sequences between the two main men are highly melodramatic, yet not really in a bad way. They both know exactly what type of movie they are in and lead it with a charging roar. Their energy is always as high as it needs to be. It at times can make me a little less invested in the characters when things sometimes get incredibly cheesy though. Although, that cheesiness is obviously the point. It reminds me of some early Hollywood epics where it was more about putting on a show than trying to tell a realistic/ grounded story. The cheesy tone overall doesn’t always work for me but it certainly does make it a lot of fun. 

What I think is going unnoticed though is great editing by Sreekar Prasad (especially during action and dance sequences) and a rumbling score from M.M. Keeravaani. The final fight sequence in particular has an intense song to go along with it. I do have a few more critiques for RRR though. The romcom element with Olivia Morris’ character feels contrived and ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere. The story is also fairly predictable. 

Outside of those few problems though, RRR is an excellent Tollywood epic that you should definitely check out if you’re open to new things. I hope to see more Indian cinema like this reaching American audiences on the level that it always should’ve. 

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