Actors: NT Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn
Director: SS Rajamouli
Rating: Two stars (Out of 5)
In SS Rajamouli’s new and outrageous action extravaganza, bowdlerised history produces an incorrect monster of epic proportions. Yes, the film is very effective in terms of scale and ambition, but it is a chaos that belittles the history of poorly documented tribal resistance against the British Raj and other exploitative powers that have never stopped thriving.
Everything in this pervasive hyper-heroic saga is written in CAPITAL LETTERS, leaving no room for small inflections and the occasional punctuation that can add depth to the story of two giants fighting against all odds.
The nuances of human struggle, the tenacity of marginalized communities and any meaningful details of time, place and character are beyond reach RRR because the film intends to use the broad and mythological fantasy of real battles that real people went through in real areas of the last century.
RRR lacking a lack of visual spectacle and a masculine position, both of which give the film no novelty. Ram Charan and NTR Jr threw all their advantages behind the effort and were ‘brave’ in front of several film sets (including one that had two actors dancing alongside gays left behind). However, what happens before and after this packaged ‘height’ is more often than not hard to swallow.
The film rings blank as it never stops to breathe and doesn’t give its two male protagonists something similar to the human qualities they are known for even though they are always harps of love and longing. One represents fire, the other water – this is expressed in a protracted preface – but what dominates is blood. A lot was spilled, but our two heroes were bloody heroes. They stood firm against the atrocities they and their people faced.
One of them, Ram Charan disguised as a hardline British -era policeman A. Rama Raju, stormed thousands of restless people when stones were thrown at his boss. He was surrounded and beaten by a mob but he came out of the confrontation almost a piece, except for bruises here and sprained muscles there.
The other protagonist, Kumram Bheem of the simple -minded and idealistic Gond tribe, is played by NT Rama Rao Jr. The man killed a tiger with his bare hands. The act he did was to apologize to the dead animal for having slaughtered it for the greater good. Don’t ask what the ‘greater good’ is, or at least not so early in the film.
Rama Raju, likewise, was a forest dweller and sharp shooter who served the Empire with infinite passion. He also has a much bigger reason than he saw at first – he was in line for promotion because of the efficiency he showed in fighting the “chocolate trash” so give up.
Rama Raju’s background, which is briefly depicted in the first half of the very long film, features Ajay Devgn as a cameo. The background of the other hero is revealed right at the start of the three -hour film – a tribal girl is taken away by the wife of a British officer and the man is committed to freeing her from captivity.
British strength is represented in RRR by the brutal Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his violent wife (Alison Doody). They have no humanity at all – they treat Indians like animals but they themselves are worse than animals. The film did not miss the opportunity to continue it. Narrative finesse and psychological ambiguity are not Rajamouli’s strengths, certainly not in this film.
Style and content do not take hold RRR targeted at fans of Rajamouli brand cinema. They will certainly find a lot of value in the wonderfully planned and choreographed action as well as the heightened emotions. These critics, however, have no patience for a film that believes that a hero is not entitled to a moment or two of silence or stare in an action drama. When will men in Indian action films – or any action films, for that matter – go back to walking like normal humans and not flying like birds, jumping like lions and fighting like apes?
The writer-director known for his penchant for fantasy and mythology combined the two in re-imagining the lives of two real-life revolutionaries who opposed unspeakable injustices in the first half of the 20th century in what is now Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In doing so, he takes the wind out of a history he so arrogantly ficts.
RRR allocates the struggles of forest dwellers and tribes and uses them as a mere excuse for an SFX-laden and powerful cinematic blitzkrieg that flattens out all possible accounts of a truly empathetic account of the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed.
The film – it is upfront about the fact that it is a work of fiction – reduces the Rampa uprising in 1922 (led by Alluri Sitaram Raju) and the Telangana uprising in 1946 (led by Komaram Bheem) to two major events that are compacted into one contemporary event. . overall. One centered on the enslavement of a little Gondi girl by the British and the other on a plan to revive (in a literal sense) a community of forest dwellers.
RRR imaginatively transforming one of the rebels by reason into the personification of Lord Ram and his patient life partner, forever waiting to become Sita – that’s the name played by the character Alia Bhatt. His fights took place in and around the wooded area – at its peak, he exchanged British rifles and ammunition with a nice old set of bows and arrows – but there was never any mention of land being forcibly taken and rights trampled on.
So is the character of Bheem, who builds a soft spot for Governor Scott’s beautiful niece Jennifer (Olivia Morris) but doesn’t abandon her mission to free the Gondi girl imprisoned at the palace governor’s residence. The hero of Gond is allowed to acknowledge his identity but his struggle on behalf of his people takes place on a blurred canvas that gives the reality of a vast place.
RRR is a large budget expenditure that is not prudent at all. It puts it on the thick – background scores do more than little to help. Ram Charan and NTR Jr., too, gave everything they had. All of this might have added up nicely and the talent as well as the flash might have really lit up the screen if RRR hadn’t been as fundamentally as it was – a deliberate mockery of history that screams for more considerate and respectful treatment.