S.S. Rajamouli’s action-filled Tollywood blockbuster RRR has generated plenty of online buzz around the world, but is it really worth a watch?
The Indian blockbuster RRR has made a name for itself among 2022’s biggest blockbusters, and to the delight of many, it does live up to the hype. RRR is a high-octane action movie from the mind of Tollywood director S.S. Rajamouli, famous for the massive hits Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion — each of them a cinematic phenomenon with worldwide success. With RRR, S.S. Rajamouli once again crafts a hit not only in his native India but also globally, as RRR‘s three-hour runtime hasn’t been an obstacle for audiences around the world.
With the biggest budget for an Indian movie to date, RRR tells the story of Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, two characters based on real-life Indian revolutionaries during the rule of the British Empire in India during the early twentieth century. In typical Tollywood fashion, RRR uses unapologetically outrageous action with musical influences to tell a highly fictionalized story that’s authentic to its roots. RRR has awakened internet buzz and kept the number one spot on Netflix’s international movies section for weeks, but is it worth a watch?
Fortunately, RRR deserves the hype. From the very first scene, RRR engages the viewer with brutal action and a straightforward premise. RRR makes it very clear that it is an action movie first and foremost, but it still develops an emotional hook at the heart of the story. As is the case with S.S. Rajamouli’s filmography, RRR uses real sets and flesh-and-blood extras that make each scene feel authentic. That is not to say the CGI used for the most outlandish scenes isn’t also breathtaking. While not extremely realistic by Hollywood standards, the visual effects have a feeling of weight that many Hollywood blockbusters can only wish for. Narratively, one of RRR‘s biggest strengths is that it follows the characters through various dramatic turns in their journey, showing how Raju evolves from reluctant soldier to skilled dancer to Rambo-like Tollywood hero and then back to a troubled trooper, with new personality traits every step of the way.
RRR makes the most out of every scene. Despite its long runtime, RRR doesn’t feel rushed or slow, and it uses the right amount of action to avoid sensory overload. Subtlety goes out the window, of course, as RRR allows itself to deliver logic-defying thrills. However, the stakes are kept high despite the near-invincibility of the heroes. The dynamic between Ram Charan’s Raju and Jr NTR’s Bheem is enriched by the actors’ chemistry, and the despicable main villain Governor Buxton, though irredeemable, is gracefully portrayed by Punisher: War Zone star Ray Stevenson with a certain villainous charm.
RRR‘s plot is not groundbreaking by any means, and its depiction of Indian history is not precisely documentary material. However, RRR works perfectly as a popcorn action movie with a rich cultural background. Each sequence in RRR could work as a short film on its own. Bheem’s tiger chase, the animals’ coordinated attack on the British Army, Raju’s redemption – all of these scenes are memorable moments with striking visuals and a clear narrative purpose, not to mention stunning cinematography and a thrilling score. For Tollywood fans and newcomers to Telugu film alike, RRR is a unique, highly-accessible film that doesn’t hold back until the credits roll.