RRR, a film whose title I still don’t fully understand, is a Telugu film apparently dubbed in Hindi for Netflix, and as of the time of its making was the most expensive Indian film made, ever.
Like many contemporary Indian films, it attempts to become a three hour long epic with all of the elements one could come to expect from such a film, but with two additions that make it stand out. Those include its explicit displays of violence and cruelty, and their use to serve as a reminder of the cruelty inflicted under colonialism, but also likely to elicit catharsis in the vengeance against those oppressors for its audience.
A fictional story based off of the real stories of two Indian nationalists, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who both died in militancy fighting the British Raj, it depicts them as a parochialist plucked from the jungle versus an urbanite and collaborator. The former fights the crown only for his own purposes, as the latter defends it for his. Only later do we see the tragic explanation for his apparent collaboration, but this also raises questions as to why the ranks of the British empire were also filled with large numbers of ethnic Indians who perpetuate the system of racial supremacy. Perhaps there were elements of coercion, as well as hedging with the British against the other ethnic groups, but of course there was also likely a degree of ambition driving many.
The violence displayed and the apparent justice at the racial-based administration through a colonial empire is compelling, and drives a strong narrative, as does the cliched friendship between the two protagonists. The acting is strong but not overwrought, but unfortunately the Western actors lines are, reminiscent of the Westerners in Chinese propaganda films.
It is not perfect, and there are many awkward aspects, including interminable action sequences and too much CGI. Nevertheless, it fulfills everything one would expect of a film of this genre and frankly excels. Moving performances and characters, forceful performances, a riveting story, and a deeper political message with easily applicable moral labels.
Rating: A near-mint very heavily restored Indian motorcycle.