Film Review: RRR is a critic-proof extravaganza

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NTR Jr. and Ram Charan in RRR. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

If ever there was a critic-proof Indian film, this is it!

Manmohan Desai would have loved the illogic in the film, which is entirely meant to entertain, emotionally gratify and elicit applause, whistles and claps from the audience, as without the impossible goings-on, the film will be compromised on the target S.S. Rajamouli has set for us—of offering mega-entertainment, mega-entertainment—and mega-entertainment!  Apologies to Vidya Balan’s The Dirty Picture—this is leagues ahead in scale and quantum of manoranjan!

The letters of the title, RRR stand originally for Roudram Ranam Rudhiram (Rage, War, Blood), but get an English spin pan-India as Rise, Roar, Revolt.

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Spectacle beyond imagination, action beyond compare, technical expertise (A. Sreekar Prasad’s editing giving a rare gravitas—to use a tangentially accurate term!—to all the magnificence) that could match Hollywood, if not surpass it.

And who are the behind-the-scenes superstars of this hypnotic saga? Well, besides director S.S. Rajamouli—undoubtedly India’s answer and more to Steven Spielberg, David Lean, Cecil B. DeMille and their equals in Hollywood—we have cinematographer K.K. Senthil Kumar, production designer Sabu Cyril, the entire VFX mega-team led by V. Srinivas Mohan, the action team led by Nick Powell and also M.M. Kreem a.k.a. M.M. Keeravani doing the phenomenal background score. They are the true-blue superheroes that make the on-screen superstars NTR Jr. and Ram Charan larger-than-life.

Rajamouli is self-confessedly inspired by two real revolutionaries who never met (but in this film they do!) and also The Motorcycle Diaries, a 2004 Spanish biopic on a revolutionary. He injects dollops of Indian sentiments and emotions and a massive chunk of popular cinema tricks to treat us with a mammoth 186-minute spectacle on friendship, family values, revenge, national integration (Komoram Bheem takes shelter with a Muslim family, who help him selflessly) and patriotism (the backdrop).

One element of popular cinema, now deteriorating at least in Hindi cinema, is songs, but we have four attractive numbers here from the phenomenally-talented M.M. Kreem—Naacho naacho, Sholay, Komuram bheemudo and Dosti. Not classic, but better than almost all Hindi film songs heard since 2017.

One important element that is missing here vis-à-vis Kreem’s earlier best is good lyrics—Riya Mukherjee pens the functional words here. Dosti and Komuram bheemudo are melodious, but reminiscent of Kreem’s rousing songs in the Bahubali franchise—and Kreem has never been repetitious earlier, unlike his more celebrated Southern colleague in Hindi cinema! Riya does better in the Hindi dialogues.

Readers may notice that I have skipped mentioning the plotline of the movie, set in 1920s Delhi mainly. Let me come to it now. Alluri Sitarama Raju a.k.a. Ram (Ram Charan) represents Fire, and is a police officer who excels in beating up Indian revolutionaries, though it takes a while for him to achieve his dream—to be decorated as a Special Officer.

Komuram Bheem (NTR Jr.) is an Adivasi Gond tribal whose sister Malli is taken away by the tyrannical Britishers for being adept at applying mehndi. Though the incident happens in South India, he searches far and wide for her, even though the British have been given an inkling that someone is searching for her.

By a quirk of fate, the two meet in a spectacular way and become fast friends, though their intentions are polar opposite. And Ram has a backstory and a deeper aim, which sometimes involves sacrificing some of his countrymen (!) for a wider cause. The friendship is tested to the hilt in their respective missions.

Resting completely on the shoulders of these two superstars of Telugu cinema, the film becomes a testosterone actioner of gargantuan proportions. After ages (thanks to Hindi cinema’s superstars’ egoistic aversions to co-star with each other in full-fledged leads), have we got a male-bonding saga. Leave aside their spellbinding dance moves in Naacho naacho and Sholay (the choreography by Prem Rakshith is another highlight), their chemistry is superlative, and their individual performances superb. NTR Jr. gets the meatier role, has extremely expressive eyes, but in the final analysis, they match each other perfectly even in the caliber of their essays.

Alia Bhatt as Sita (No surprises then that she is Ram’s romantic interest!) has a significant cameo, while comparatively Ajay Devgn is effective but wasted. Olivia Morris looks fetching but hardly has anything to do. Ray Stevenson (Thor) and Alison Doody do a good job as the main villains. The child artiste who plays Malli is good.

So, what is the conclusion? Well, miss this extravaganza at your own RRR-isk!

Rating: ****

DVV Entertainments & Pen Studios present RRR (Hindi)  Produced by:D.V.V. Danayya  Directed by: S.S. Rajamouli  Written by: V. Vijayendra Prasad, S.S. Rajamouli & Riya Mukherjee (Hindi) Music:M.M. Kreem Starring: N.T. Rama Rao Junior, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, Olivia Morris, Varun Buddhadev, Samuthirakani, Mark Bennington, Edward Sonnenblick, Kirron Arya, Ahmareen Anjum, Spandan Chaturvedi & others

 

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