RRR Movie Review: Rancid. Redundant. Ridiculous
RRR Movie Review
Star Cast: Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Allia Bhatt, Samuthirakani, Alison Doody, Ray Stevenson, Shriya Saran, and Rahul Ramakrishna
Screenplay & Directed by S S Rajamouli
Music Composed by M M Keeravani
Produced by D V V Danayya
RRR Movie Review
Before you read any further, this is a spoiler-heavy review. Watch the film if you wish to and then come back to read it. If you just want a gist – scroll down to the last paragraph. If you don’t care, please read on.
SS Rajamouli tried to introduce each important theme of his film before he puts the title on the screen. Let’s discuss the movie likewise.
STORY – A rancid story. When you say Komaram Bheem came from a particular community and stayed innocent until he met Alluri Seetha Ramaraju, you need to provide some historical context to it. Like what made you come to that conclusion. Quentin Tarantino’s changes in history are accepted because he does them organically using existing historic events and giving them his own twist. He doesn’t entirely change a well-known person’s character to fit his narrative. This is where imagination or StoRy part should blossom. Historically, Alluri Seetha Ramaraju was unhappy with his life in his village. His parents wanted him to become a government officer and then marry Seetha. He ran away from the house or went in search of a bigger purpose. Found it and pledged chastity to achieve his objective. He fought against the 1882 Madras Act that restricts Aadivasis or tribals from living their lives peacefully. Komaram Bheem fought against same Aadivasi law and he coined Jal, Jangal, Zameen slogan.
Komaram Bheem sings a song in Delhi in Telugu and people who can’t understand his language start revolting against the British. Ramaraju goes to a revolutionist’s meeting and says he wants to kill Scott and there you go, a tribal asks him for help. Tribals know their way around in forests. They believe others easily. But they are not so dumb to go to a person who seems to be ridiculed by other activists and definitely not without testing if that man can help or not. People who can figure out how to trap animals and feed them without others finding out, people who can invent medicine for most poisonous venom, are the people who can’t think about giving up even one kid from their group, so that others can survive, are not those sort of people who will trust easily. They need loads of evidence or at least one convincing act before they believe in someone.
FIRE – Ram Charan excelled as Alluri Seetha Ramaraju. He did his best performance and delivered what is asked of him from the director. But does his character arc match with what historically Alluri Seetha Ramaraju did? Alluri looted police stations not just for weapons but to protest by saying that if you occupy our home, then I will occupy yours. The man with his sheer brilliance in guerrilla warfare tactics could inspire a community, altogether. With a man of Charan’s abilities that are designed and shown, he could easily go and loot a barrack with the help of his Dad’s followers. Rather he promises to bring them weapons and they wait for him. So, freedom fighters from one area waited to launch their attack until they get weapons. But historically Alluri’s followers attacked with bows and arrows. They only used guns after they looted nearby police stations and barracks or godowns. So, this deviation is not just dumb. It is Redundant of a strong story that every Telugu person should be proud of. Easily, Rajamouli could have designed Ramaraju character as a man conflicted with a softcore ideology of movement and hardcore ideology that is, complete independence in non-violent means and using violence. His belief in non-violence could have been tested to the core by looking at Jallianwala Bagh kind of incidents and then he might have decided to help Bheem in his quest. Still, could have made more historical sense than him trying to win the British governor’s trust. Even heroic character arcs can be satisfied.
Well, Rajamouli’s theme to show Ramaraju as fire is commendable but for that Ramaraju going out into thousands of crowd to arrest one person that too his own Indians, for whom he lives and breathes just seems too conveniently written for the clash between Bheem and Ram to happen somehow. As if Rajamouli wanted Bheem to feel cheated by Ram and then come back to help him after knowing the truth. These kinds of story moments have been used earlier and trying to use the same, makes this two-hero film similar to others rather than a unique experience. Rajamouli once said that he has a habit of writing pointers from earlier films on how to execute or write his scripts. Looks like he took pointers from Karan Arjun, Mundadugu, Manchi Mitrulu, Neramu Shiksha, and several Foreign movies to write this script. At least, Ramaraju gets a character arc where his ideology forces him to act against his will, and then he learns to accept what he feels is right and do it.
WATER – NTR’s Komaram Bheem doesn’t even get a character arc. He has a mission, he comes out of his tribal area but easily mixes with city people. Knows Hindi but doesn’t know how to write or doesn’t understand English at all. Wouldn’t he be learning English first to dupe English officers or wouldn’t he be trying to win English officers’ hearts by being their pet to enter into the mansion and achieve his objective? This Means Bheem should have been acting like Ramaraju trying to free his men from the act and Ramaraju should have been acting like Bheem to understand his life’s bigger purpose. Doesn’t this make more sense? Rather Bheem is liked instantaneously by a young British woman and he gets invited to a party at Governor’s mansion just like that. There are no restrictions on her or there are no prejudices on her part either to like a brown man or not. Right from Lagaan, English women do seem to be in love with Indian men more often in films than in real history. Why is that so? Maybe film’s demands to have a convenient screenplay can only be met through such characters.
Why does this make it Ridiculous? The entire character story of NTR as Komaram Bheem is that he can be friend with animals, enter into Governor’s Mansion by be friending a trusting young woman, launch an attack on British Governor’s Mansion with wild animals and sing Komaram Bheemudo song in Delhi. I forgot, he even rescues Ramaraju after Ramaraju rescues him. Bheem’s love story or romantic arc is developed by looking at How I Met Your Mother’s ten-minute date sequence. He looks at her. Wants to talk to her as she seems friendly and good. Ramaraju helps Bheem and she meets Bheem. The same day she invites him for a party while she is not taken aback by his lack of basic English knowledge.
I can go on and on. Rajamouli used a similar theme where a hero inspires another in Rajanna. Actually, his father, Shri Vijayendra Prasad directed it. Their hero is a small girl and her father’s life battle inspires her. Here, Ramaraju’s penchant for fighting for freedom inspires Bheem, and Bheem’s innocent rebellion against British oppression gives a clear path to Ram. On paper, this sounds as good as Rajanna. But as Rajanna failed to connect with wider masses here to the thematic differences come in between as the logical journey of one hero is being adapted to another hero. And making them both look right isn’t easy as well. But they could have been made to look right just Rajamouli decided not to do so. He tried to come up with mythological references like Rama and Sitha reference for Ramaraju and Seetha characters making Bheem Hanumanthudu. Actually, Bheem starts out as Krishna from Vrindavan who does anything he can to get the job done but in the right manner. Suddenly, he is shifted to being a Hanuman in the second half. Bheem and Hanuman are half-brothers, maybe that is what, the director intended as well. None of them looked organic references. In Baahubali, he could have called Maahismathi, Jambu Dweepa, or say Bharata is actually from Maahismathi lineage of Kings and still we would have believed. Here, these are historical figures and their original characters cannot be manipulated to fit a director’s narrative.
Rajamouli decided on some pointers and wanted a story that fits his Sequences. He spent most of his time on an Interval action sequence, two heroes bromance, two heroes fighting together and one hero hitting another one, one hero hating/misjudging another one. He wanted to tell a story that has two positive people doing negative acts in each other’s lives while they think they are doing the right thing. For that to work, he needed to connect the story in a sensible manner than just stick to the images that he had in his head. One can see his dedication in executing Charan being almost thwarted to pieces in the mob scene. But that scene doesn’t really serve the purpose of heroism even BGM agrees to that point. Keeravani’s music and BGM are not that great too. All technical departments did put their best foot forward. But the bottom line is you need characters and incidents that stick with you. Fans will love their favorite idols walking together, performing emotionally for a song or scene. All with a purpose will add value to them like 100 men fight sequence in Magadheera or two back-to-back brutal fight sequences in Chatrapathi. Here, a tiger is caught by Young Tiger and Charan is introduced by fighting against 1000 men, in their respective introduction sequences. Executed like entire life is dependent on them but their purpose? Rajamouli cannot just reduce himself to a director who perfectly executes his ideas and does not care about the story at all. Shankar has already occupied that space and we don’t want another one, do we? RRR is a gigantic mishap that fails in basics but passes out in other aspects that just form 25% of marks like failing in all subjects but scoring full in PET or cultural activities. Normally, it means a year wasted but here 5 years.