RRR is a roaring, rearing, rollicking blend of genres — epic-mythological-action-superhero-bromance, that SS Rajamouli mixture, which we are encouraged to consume in one massive gulp. It is also, without a doubt, deafeningly loud. But, considering that the film drove me to stick with it and provided me with a lot of entertainment, I was willing to sacrifice my ears for a change. The three-and-a-half-hour film, a patriotic story set in British India in the 1920s, proves multiple points all at once. That there will never be a larger or more durable source of stories for Indian filmmakers and spectators than the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. Then, if you really want to be safe, you cast not one, but two super-stars. And so if you want huge, you only go to Rajamouli, the biggest super-star of them all: the loudest ‘taalis’ were prepared for his blink-and-miss in the closing credits.
Remember, the two characters in this story aren’t supposed to be superheroes. They are, in fact, real people from Indian history: Komaram Bheem, a revolutionary leader and guerrilla fighter from the Gond tribe during the British Raj, and Alluri Sitarama Raju, a similarly inclined insurgent who frequently led his under-equipped followers during raids on police stations to obtain firearms. There is no evidence that these two guys ever met in person. But when have filmmakers ever let facts stand in the way of a good story? There is also no evidence that they possessed any superhuman talents other than cunning and charisma. Rajamouli, on the other hand, is unconcerned about it.
Raju, referred to here as Ram, is a fiercely determined firebrand from Andhra Pradesh who goes undercover as a member of the British army in the hope of arming his compatriots in the 1920s world, according to “RRR” — which also stands for “Rise, Roar, Revolt” when the full title finally makes its first appearance on screen. Early on, he displays his phoney loyalty to the Crown — and, more or less, confirms his superhumanity — by punching, kicking, beating, and otherwise manhandling what look to be thousands of demonstrators in order to apprehend a man who threw a rock at a police outpost’s photo. This scenario would suffice as a rousingly over-the-top climax in most action films. However, in “RRR,” it serves just as a prologue.
The first half of RRR runs like a well-oiled machine. There’s an emotional core in Malli, a song and dance with Naatu Naatu (it’ll make you grin), a friendship explored through Dosti, and a few laughs anytime Bheem tries to befriend Jennifer. Cinematic liberties are used, but they don’t seem as noticeable as in the film’s final half, where it falters a little. Some sequences seem to drag because we already know something that a key character does not. The way Ramaraju’s fiancé Sita (Alia Bhatt) is integrated into the storyline, as well as Ram Charan’s change into a different look, appear forced in a story that was otherwise smooth sailing. After the ease with which Bheem is established despite the fact that little is shown, the manner Ramaraju’s plot revolves is strained. The climax could have been better. The film, on the other hand, manages to surprise you. Rajamouli also expertly uses tropes established in the first half of the film in the second half.
RRR is far from flawless because, after seeing how Rajamouli pulls off certain situations, you question if he could’ve done a greater job in others. But if you’re looking for a terrific action-packed drama, check out this one this weekend. Especially if you like the lead duo. Themes of devotion, betrayal, and changing identity are recurrently echoed in “RRR,” creating a tremendous anchor of seriousness and mortal stakes during the most fanciful fights, flights, and feats of daring-do. “This is silly!” your thoughts may say from time to time. Every time this happens, your heart will respond, “So what? “Please give me more!”