'RRR' hit the cinemas finally today (March 25). Produced by DVV Danayya's DVV Entertainments, the film is a period drama.
Sometime in the 1920s, a British officer forcibly takes away a young tribal girl named Malli for recreational purposes at his palace. The tribal community's guard Komaram Bheem (Jr NTR) lives in a forest somewhere near Delhi in disguise. As a Muslim man named Akhtar, Bheem develops a strong bond with Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan), a British loyalist who serves in the police department.
In the ensuing drama, Akhtar aka Bheem falls for Jennifer (Olivia Morris), a Britisher. Meanwhile, Alluri has a secret to hide. The rest of the film is about the shifting equations between the Bheem-Alluri duo and how they defeat Scott (Ray Stevenson).
Be it rage, heartbreak, or heroic surges, Tarak makes for a consistently colossal watch. He is a dynamite of a performer, making Bheem look like a prodigy of physicality. His acting is outstanding in the scenes where he has to show a range of emotions in the presence of Ram Charan. He almost deserves a National Award.
'RRR' is Ram Charan's rare performance. Unlike in 'Rangasthalam', he doesn't sport a beard for most of the run time and that lets the audience read the multitude of emotions on his face fully. As the film's writer (Vijayendra Prasad) said, Alluri is a layered character and Charan didn't have a straightforward job.
A letdown is how Alia Bhatt's talent has been wasted. If you want to enjoy her acting, watch the 'Etthara Jhanda' song during the end credits. Ajay Devgn is fine but the dubbing drags down his performance. Shriya Saran's cameo is satisfying. Samuthirakani is wasted.
Ray Stevenson is palpably distinct and is nothing like the kind of prosaic portrayals of British colonialists we see in the average Indian film. It is Olivia Morris, as Jennifer, who is better than Alia.
Rajeev Kanakala, Chatrapathi Sekhar have a cameo. Rahul Ramakrishna is fine.
Cinematographer KK Senthil Kumar and his team had to navigate a variety of landscapes, from man-made sets to natural forests. Locations as different as sets in Ramoji Film City, Mahabaleswar, Ukraine and Bulgaria were picked. The exhilarating shots, angles, and variegated colour palette invigorate Rajamouli's vision. In this, production designer Sabu Cyril deserves a pat.
'Naatu Naatu' is one of the best songs visually in a decade. 'Dosti' is okayish, while 'Janani' doesn't make much impact. It's 'Komuram Bheemudo' which is the second-best song. MM Keeravani's background score can whip up enthusiasm for the emotional undercurrent. It was at its finest in the 'Baahubali' movies. Here, the music doesn't always foment the needed impact.
V Srinivas Mohan, the VFX supervisor, rises to the occasion. Sreekar Prasad's editing is sorted despite some portions looking a bit stoic.
The burden of sky-high expectations, the load of handling two big stars, the promise of a magnum opus... Nothing deters the director of this film. SS Rajamouli's screenplay is unruffled by the domineering task at hand.
Yes, the film is not as great as the 'Baahubali' movies. Yes, it's not as hair-raising as 'Magadheera'. Nevertheless, 'RRR' still makes for a delightful watch.
Let's first talk about the negatives. At almost 3 hours, it's too lengthy. Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues are unmemorable. They are also bookish and dry in some key scenes. The construction of the bond between Bheem aka Akhtar and Alluri looks somewhat underwhelming, although we are sold on their majestic moments like 'Naatu Naatu'. The love track between Tarak's character and Oliva's character is cliched. And, above all, the Ajay Devgn-Shriya Saran flashback episode is absolutely boring.
The fact of the matter is that even a blockbuster like 'Pushpa: The Rise' had its share of cliches. 'RRR' pushes the envelope and that's what matters. The story is about a joint mission of two contrasting individuals who turn out to be the most-committed collaborators after subjecting themselves to dangers and a roller-coaster ride. There is sincerity in their agenda. We empathize with their challenges. This is where Rajamouli hits home.
After the jaded flashback in the second half, the pacing issues get resolved. Bheem and Alluri start to engage us once again. The climax fight could have been a bit more impressive, on a par with the highs felt in the first half.
'RRR' is far from being Rajamouli's best work. But it sets a new standard for pan-India cinematic imagination. Go for it!