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RRR Review

RRR
T J Reddy / fullhyd.com
EDITOR RATING
7.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Suggestions
Can watch again
Yes
Good for kids
Yes
Good for dates
Yes
Wait for OTT
No
You don't need our opinions to help you decide if you want to spend your money on RRR. Destiny dictated that the box office of your theatre owned your rupees/dollars/yen/euros ever since the announcement was a thing. I could begin and end this review with all but one line: "Please watch it on the big screen." This line covers everything I have to say about this cinematic experience. However, my job is to format my opinions into a coherent essay, so here goes.

I'm just so happy. So very, very happy. Films like RRR are initial incidents in creating fans of the art of cinema. They are loud, boisterous, and gargantuan in size. However, they are also heartfelt, genuine, and works of sheer ambition.

A director's reach should exceed his grasp, or what is a blockbuster for?

S S Rajamouli's RRR starring Ram Charan and Jr. NTR is historical/mythological fan fiction. In 1920s Delhi, Alluri Sita Rama Raju works as a policeman for the British Raj. Eyeing a promotion, he tasks himself to capture a mission-bound Komaram Bheem for crimes against the crown. Bheem's mission is to infiltrate the Governor's quarters to rescue an abducted little girl who belongs to his tribe. These simple stakes lead to an action-adventure extravaganza of mythic proportions.

There has been a logical progression with Rajamouli's filmography. To conquer the summit that was Bahubali, he spent nearly a decade honing his craft with Magadheera, Eega, and Maryada Ramanna. Post Bahubali, we were curious to see what this man could surprise us with next. He seemed to have mastered his craft. There is nowhere to go but down after summiting a peak.

Rajamouli is scaling a mountain for which he alone has the maps. With RRR, his control over his craft of making top-tier masala entertainers is so on point that it puts most superhero films to shame. Every shot, scene and set piece is a building block used to advance either story or character. There is no wasted motion here. There are no item songs, no superstar cameos, no "midriff scenes" and no wasted time.

There are setups in scene one which have payoffs in the climactic battle. There are seemingly throwaway dance moves that find themselves to be battle strategies. There is a sacred protective thread that belongs to one character that serves its purpose two-fold while acting as a bind between our two leads and the movie's two halves. There is so much intelligent writing in a movie that looks like any other potboiler on its surface. I could go on for hours dissecting this film's many merits.

Rajamouli's strength is that his name trumps any actor's star image. The "elevation scenes" aren't for Ram Charan or Jr. NTR. These scenes showcase the skills, abilities and motivations of Ram and Bheem. The song and dance sequences aren't broken from the story to show off an actor's sick move-set but are vital in conveying much-needed context via a visual framework. Rajamouli trusts his material and direction so much that he doesn't find the need to insert a manipulative rendition of the national anthem to hammer his point home. The filmmaking does the work for him.

The movie is not without its flaws. The one-note nature of the men of the British Raj borders on the pantomime before leaping head-first into the pool of tired clichés. They are cannon fodder for the climactic battle. They serve their only purpose. The characters of Seetha, Baba, Malli and Sarojini (guess who this is) find themselves severely shortchanged. Malli feels so lightweight that the script repeats Bheem's motivations multiple times to ensure that neither he nor the audience forget it.

The film is also a series of fetch quests. As events build on top of each other, you can't help but feel a sense of repetition within the movie's overall structure. While the characters' locales keep changing, their adversaries and scene-by-scene motivations seem the same. To quote Rust Cohle, "Time is a flat circle." Also, that iconic Alluri Seetha Rama Raju outfit looks out of place in this narrative.

Keeping things engaging in the face of these stumbling blocks is the film's leading duo of Ram Charan and Rama Rao (not forgetting the Jr.). The latter gives his best performance in years as Komaram Bheem. Jr. NTR is playing to the galleries with this role, and is an absolute delight.

There is a common misconception that "commercial cinema" lacks good performances. This performance blows those notions out of the water and then some. The movie plays to the actor's strengths by handing the bulk of the dialogue-heavy emotional scenes to him and keeping them away from Ram Charan. Ram Charan gets scenes brimming with physicality and raw, simmering power. His first scene speaks volumes about his character without him uttering a word. Rajamouli knows his film and knows his actors.

He understands the cinematic language to perfection as well. The usage of the fire and water motifs are both bombastic to appeal to general audiences and tickle the fancies of cinephiles. A special mention has to be made of the storyboarding and stunt choreography teams as they helm combat with such finesse and grace that they train a viewer's eye to see what they want you to see. It is masterful stuff. K K Senthil Kumar composes come truly spellbinding shots. They rival those from Baahubali in all of scope, scale and nuance.

Not exceeding his previous standards is M M Keeravani. The film's soundscape maintains a constant hum of average with the occasional bit of excellence thrown in to draw attention to itself. The visuals and writing complement each other as the score can be labeled passable by association.

But who cares about this nitpick? Who minds that the climactic battle ends in a hurry? Who is complaining that Rajamouli never learned how to write an epilogue? Not me, that's who. While these issues might dock numbers off the scoreboard, this movie is a feat of audacity.

It is a big and silly film with big and silly characters who engage in big and silly set pieces. I am a big and silly boy who loved every bit of it. In conclusion, please watch this one on the big screen.
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TOP COMMENT
TJ Reddy on 28th Mar 2022, 4:51pm | Permalink
You are welcome to disagree with me but I guess I could try and make a case with an example of character progression in this film.

SPOILER ALERT

Bheem is introduced to us as a character whose motivation is to keep a tribe together. No man left behind if you will.

Ram is a character who has sacrifice built into his DNA. A man who is okay with losing n number of comrades if the final mission is fulfilled.

By the end of the film, Bheem is okay with isolating himself from the tribe and going after Ram, and Ram will not let Bheem die at any cost. These are simple setups and payoffs and the film is stuffed full of moments like this.

The sacred thread Bheem wears is supposed to protect him. It comes off him and protects Ram. Ram uses it to capture him and in turn, saves him. If Bheem wasn't captured by Ram at that instance he'd have fallen to his doom. If Ram hadn't captured Bheem his mission would have found itself derailed or worse.

The thread saves both men but also acts as a setup to progress the story forward in an interesting way.

These touches don't happen accidentally. They are products of people who care about the script they're writing. A script doesn't necessarily have to be penned by Alex Garland to be considered "intelliegent". In the masala filmmaking space, this is intelliegence.
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Ravi on 3rd Apr 2022, 9:41am | Permalink
Saw the movie last night and now reading the review. Excellent movie and a very nice review capturing the nuances very well. Hats off to Rajamouli imagination and ability to visualise the story.
Prasad Rao on 28th Mar 2022, 9:44pm | Permalink
Performances - 8
Music - 7
Visuals - 8
Rating for script - 3 only in my view..
And feeling very sad for alluri character
Portuguese Man-of-War on 28th Mar 2022, 8:45am | Permalink
Great review, TJ! And liberally peppered with excellent metaphors - "The one-note nature of the men of the British Raj borders on the pantomime before leaping head-first into the pool of tired clichés."
TJ Reddy on 28th Mar 2022, 4:41pm | Permalink
Thank you PMoW. Hope you enjoyed the movie as well.
Madhu on 27th Mar 2022, 9:51pm | Permalink
Dear TJ , Your reviews are a delight and you have hit the nail in the head.
This is what I felt watching the movie and I was lucky to be able to watch it in IMAX.
Sometimes you are harsh with commercially viable movies - but I am happy to see your views reflect the general audience.
TJ Reddy on 27th Mar 2022, 11:28pm | Permalink
Glad you enjoyed the review, Madhu. This film is a solitary rose admist a pile of truly subpar commercial cinema we get on a weekly basis.

There is so much intelligence in every set piece and sequence in the film that I wish other writers/directors would watch and rewatch and learn it's machinations. Most other films lack the clever writing this one does to be honest.

Even for Rajamouli, himself, this might be his most focused story. He's only getting better film by film. I would love to do a huge spoiler discussion on what sets RRR apart from the herd but will have to put a hold on that for obvious reasons.
Ritwik on 28th Mar 2022, 4:31pm | Permalink
Intelligence?? You must be out of your mind.......
TJ Reddy on 28th Mar 2022, 4:51pm | Permalink
You are welcome to disagree with me but I guess I could try and make a case with an example of character progression in this film.

SPOILER ALERT

Bheem is introduced to us as a character whose motivation is to keep a tribe together. No man left behind if you will.

Ram is a character who has sacrifice built into his DNA. A man who is okay with losing n number of comrades if the final mission is fulfilled.

By the end of the film, Bheem is okay with isolating himself from the tribe and going after Ram, and Ram will not let Bheem die at any cost. These are simple setups and payoffs and the film is stuffed full of moments like this.

The sacred thread Bheem wears is supposed to protect him. It comes off him and protects Ram. Ram uses it to capture him and in turn, saves him. If Bheem wasn't captured by Ram at that instance he'd have fallen to his doom. If Ram hadn't captured Bheem his mission would have found itself derailed or worse.

The thread saves both men but also acts as a setup to progress the story forward in an interesting way.

These touches don't happen accidentally. They are products of people who care about the script they're writing. A script doesn't necessarily have to be penned by Alex Garland to be considered "intelliegent". In the masala filmmaking space, this is intelliegence.
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