Streaming platforms like Netflix have done wonders breaking down cultural barriers to film, with the breakout success of “Squid Game” last year highlighting how films and TV shows made anywhere can catch fire worldwide. America is not the only nation with a robust film and television industry, and I think it’s important to always keep an open mind to see what the rest of the world has to offer by venturing outside genres and markets that we’re familiar with.
I took a chance on “RRR,” a Hindi film that showcases an epic tale between two friends in 1920s British-ruled India, and I’m glad that I did. I watched the film with subtitles, and it really vindicated for me what “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho said a few years ago at the Oscars: “Once you overcome the one inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
The film starts off with the abduction of a young girl named Malli (Twinkle Sharma) from the Gond Tribe by British Gov. Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his wife, Catherine (Alison Doody). This sets her brother, Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) on a mission of rebellion in order to get her back.
Meanwhile, Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan), is doing all that he can to move up the ranks as an officer of the British Empire. Raju is portrayed as an almost unstoppable force, initially illustrated in his introductory scene in which he captures a single protester out of a sea of many, all who are determined to trample him. After his impressive feat, he is assigned to track down and capture Bheem.
The two end up meeting by chance when they help save a boy from a train crash in which the two have instant chemistry, unaware of each other’s true identities. They end up becoming good friends and they save each other a few times; Raju even helps Bheem court an English lady named Jenny (Olivia Morris), who helps give him a read of Buxton’s sprawling compound where Malli is being held.
Bheem and Raju inevitably find their lives on a collision course when Raju learns of Bheem’s true identity, pitting the two close friends against each other as bitter enemies. And it produces some wonderful melodrama.
In a video on InReview’s TikTok account, I noted that this film used exaggeration well, feeling to me like a live action anime. It is marvelously produced — while it does indulge in the realm of the ridiculous, nothing in it feels fake or cheaply made. I particularly liked its over-the-top action scenes and in-your-face use of symbolism.
It was a little long for my tastes — its run time is nearly 3 hours, and it does drag at certain points. I watched it over the course of three viewing sessions.
As a whole, “RRR” is a silly, over-the-top film that fully commits to what it is, resulting in superior melodrama and great action sequences fueled by the convincing performances of its leads. You might need to take a break or two while watching this like I did, but I think this is a film anyone can get into.
The “one inch” barrier of subtitles is easy to overcome and you will be glad when you do.
“RRR” gets a 9/10