They can fight off tigers with their bare hands, swing off burning bridges to rescue a hapless boy, and pluck iron-clad manhole covers with zero sweat, and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to the strapping leading men who power ‘RRR’.
Telugu A-listers Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr are in their element as they showcase their bravery and machismo with admirable flair in this visual spectacle set during pre-Independence India. They play Ramraju (Charan) and Bheem (Rao Jr) who are rebels with a worthy cause. Their common enemy is the British colonisers who have been shown as a repugnant bunch of brutes.
While Gond tribesman Bheem is on a mission to rescue his sister Malli from the clutches of a powerful British family who kidnapped the girl after hearing her sing, Ram Charan plays an ambitious and fierce soldier who’s seemingly batting for the British.
Their paths collide when they see a young boy involved in a freak accident and they join forces to help him. An unusual and sturdy friendship is forged. Bheem represents the element water, while Charan’s character is emblematic of the element fire. And traditionally, fire and water are two contrasting elements who can never gel and can obliterate the other. But the big question that teased us would be if these two behemoths can fight nature to emerge victorious.
This visual spectacle transports you to a world where valiant men fight with all their might to do the right thing and trust director SS Rajamouli to do a neat job of it.
The fight sequences involving the two men are wonderfully captured and are like violent poetry in motion. While you can marvel at the superbly choreographed action sequences, you have to remember that every emotion in this film is highly exaggerated.
When Bheem is captured by the British and is being publicly flogged with nail-studded whips, he breaks out into a rousing song to stoke patriotism among his shocked Indian spectators. Up above, a heavily-botoxed English general’s wife Lady Scott (Alison Doddy) is nastily complaining that she isn’t seeing enough blood oozing out of Bheem and is thirsting to sever his spirit and body.
Make no mistake of the premise here that the colonisers are morally bankrupt oppressors with no humility or humanity towards the ‘brown’ folks. After a point, it gets tedious to see how horrid and putrid their thoughts and actions are, while Bheem and Charan’s derring-do is magnificently valourised.
Like most movies set in the colonial times in India, the British are painted with a wide brush and that’s a disappointment. Barring a young woman who catches Bheem’s fancy, every other white person in this film is vile and utter stilted on-the-nose dialogues such as ‘Aren’t you vicious?’
Both Charan and Rao Jr are formidable forces when it comes to keeping you hooked. They look the part and are earnest in their roles.
While the stunt sequences are fun to watch and are superbly timed, the film which has a running time of over three hours is a bloated and bombastic affair. The climax — where you see two men annihilate an entire troop of weapon-wielding soldiers — demands that you suspend disbelief. Their invincibility is a given and that makes it a drag.
Actress Alia Bhatt, who plays Charan’s love interest Sita, has precious little to do in her extended cameo and doesn’t leave much of an impression. But actor Ajay Devgn as Charan’s revolutionary father makes his presence felt with a quiet strength that comes as a welcome change.
Every actor in this film seems to be on call to crank up their emotions while they speak. Happy tears and sad tears are all exaggerated beyond measure, making it look stagey.
‘RRR’ works on the action sequences and CGI front, but goes overboard when it comes to the emotional narrative. While this film makes for an engaging one-time watch, be warned that it’s a bloated bonanza that could have benefitted hugely from some good shrinking. But what keep the film afloat and buzzing is the immense star power of the two lead actors who are out to save the world.
Director: SS Rajamouli
Cast: Ram Charan, NT Rama Rao Jr, Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn
Stars: 3 out of 5