The movie “RRR” made me believe again

A look at Rajamouli’s 2022 epic action drama, or, one of the best films of 2022

“RRR” is a 2022 Telugu-language epic action drama from Indian director S. S. Rajamouli (the “Baahubali” duology). The film follows the fictional story of two real-life Indian revolutionaries, A. Rama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) in the 1920s, and serves as a tale of friendship, cruelty, betrayal and ultimately the fight for freedom. The film also stars Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Samuthirakani, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody and Olivia Morris.

I’ve watched 53 films and miniseries from 2022, with my favorite of the year being a tie between Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s sci-fi action film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Todd Field’s character study “TÁR.” While both of these works of auteur cinema are among the best in recent years, I would say that “RRR” is one of the most cinematic films that I have ever seen … and while it is only my third favorite film of 2022, I would argue that it is the most over-the-top movie of the year.

My main complaint with this film is its visual effects, which I would say are inconsistent in quality. While its 550 crore production budget makes it the most expensive Indian film to date, this budget (about $72 million; far below the biggest US productions) isn’t exactly enough to afford the most convincing VFX.

There’s a sequence in which Bheem unleashes various wild animals onto the British, and they don’t look very convincing, to say the least. Creating realistic-looking digital animals in film is a difficult task, and the artists did a great job with their time and budget, but the effects were still distracting to me.

However, these iffy effects don’t bother me all that much, and that’s mainly due to this film’s tone. From the beginning of the movie, “RRR” makes it clear that it isn’t trying to be all that serious. While the story is about two men wanting to liberate India from the British, the screenplay from Rajamouli and V.

Vijayendra Prasad impressively mixes cheesy action films, romantic comedies and war dramas into one bizarre film. “RRR” deals with serious issues and there are some disturbing scenes of Indian people being brutalized, but, as a whole, the film is mainly focused on entertaining the audience.

Another thing about “RRR” that I loved is the music, both the original score and the soundtrack, both of which were composed by M. M. Keeravani. When it comes to the score, I love the leitmotifs used for each of the characters. Ram’s appearance is met with a percussive and heavy theme, whereas Bheem has a theme consisting of imposing vocals. But the standout element of the music is the musical sequences, especially for the Academy Award-nominated song “Naatu Naatu.” The song itself is really fun, but it’s elevated by the fantastic dance sequence, which has some really well-rehearsed choreography, performances and cinematography. While this and most of the other songs are intentionally silly, the music also has some genuine emotional value. The track “Komuram Bheemudo” serves as a turning point in Bheem and Ram’s relationship, and it’s conveyed very well through both the music and the actors’ performances.

A large part of why I love this film, however, is its characterization and the influences on it from Hindu mythology. I mentioned earlier that Bheem and Rama Raju are based on real Indian revolutionaries, but Rajamouli also opted to take inspiration from the two main epics of Hinduism: the “Rāmāyana” and the “Mahābhārata.” Bheem takes a lot of elements from Bhima, who, in the “Mahābhārata,” is an incredibly strong and muscular demigod; thus, throughout the movie, Bheem is a lot stronger than any human being should realistically be — he should not be able to hold off a tiger with his bare hands, but here we are.

Rama Raju, on the other hand, is modeled after the deity Rama, one of the avatars of the god Vishnu in the “Rāmāyana.” A main parallel between this deity and Rama Raju is their marksmanship, and we later see the character sporting a bow-and-arrow, bringing him closer to the mythological figure. All of this is to say that it’s fascinating to me that Rajamouli chose to combine real-life figures and mythology, essentially making a superhero movie of sorts. My family and I are Hindu, so I grew up with these myths, and my familiarity with them made the film resonate even more with me than it would have otherwise. It even makes this movie’s Western success more impressive to me.

With all of that, “RRR” is a film that will always stick with me. Not only am I proud to see superheroes of sorts who look like me, but this is just an extremely cinematic movie in all the best ways. As much as I enjoy comic book films and “Avatar,” there’s a genuine nature to this film that makes it feel like a true labor of love, and that will always give films like this an edge in my mind. If you haven’t watched “RRR,” I highly recommend watching the Hindi-language dub on Netflix, or either the Telugu or Tamil versions if you have a ZEE5 subscription.

RATING: 9/10