2022, PG-13, 186 min. Directed by S.S. Rajamouli. Starring Ram Charan, N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, Prakash Raj.

REVIEWED By Josh Hurtado, Fri., April 1, 2022

The biggest event film out of India this year comes not from Bollywood, but from its southern cousin, the Telugu-language film industry known as Tollywood. Director S.S. Rajamouli, whose previous two-part epic Baahubali broke every Indian box-office record and managed to open in the top three in the U.S. back in April of 2017, returns after a five-year absence with the historical fiction epic RRR. Combining a duo of A-list superstars with an ambitious concept, Rajamouli turns this patriotic fantasy into an incredibly entertaining reality for fans of big action, big emotions, and big laughs.

It’s 1920, the British Raj has firmly embedded itself across India, and murmurs of revolution are starting to grow among the oppressed Indian populace. Ambitious police Officer A. Rama Raju (Charan) and Gond tribal hero Komuram Bheem (Rao) are two men on opposite sides of the law. When Bheem comes to Delhi in search of a little girl who’s been kidnapped by a British general and his wife, Rama volunteers to hunt him down. Through an unlikely series of events, they wind up best friends, neither aware of the other’s true identity. When the truth comes out, new conflicts arise and their relationship takes some unexpected, and often violent, turns.

RRR is the brainchild of Rajamouli and his regular screenwriter, Vijayendra Prasad. Rama and Bheem were real-life revolutionaries at the turn of the 20th century, working to confront the Raj in the same region of India. However, they never met nor worked together. RRR is a result of a thought experiment supposing that they did; what would that look like and what kind of adventures may have resulted from such a collision of larger-than-life historical figures?

In the world of Rajamouli, known for his ability to craft compelling drama incorporating truly bonkers visual creativity, this means going all out in delivering a genre-smashing action/melodrama/musical/comedy that definitely hits the spot for filmgoers seeking an escape from the mundane. Those seeking a thoughtful, nuanced exploration of Indian colonial history will find themselves smacked in the face with some of the most insane action this side of the Fast & the Furious franchise, but with better dancing.

At a hair over three hours, RRR is an intimidating ask for a movie fan looking for something new, but the pacing combined with the nonstop plotting makes the time fly by. Not one to pigeonhole himself, Rajamouli works wonders with the masala formula. There is romance, there is comedy – though it is perhaps broader than a typical American audience might be accustomed to – and there is action. Oh boy, is there ever action.

RRR delivers at least half a dozen insane action sequences guaranteed to show you at least one thing you’ve never seen before, and the film’s run time is never a concern. Set-pieces include a 200-on-1 brawl, a jungle-animals-attack-the-party free-for-all, an explosive piggyback prison break, and a climactic super siege for the ages, and that’s just the beginning. Ever seen a guy punch a speeding motorcycle so hard that it flips up in the air and is then caught and used as an implement of punishment? You will.

Those unfamiliar with Indian history might find themselves lost for a moment here and there, but those instances are fleeting, as the universal language of action speaks clearly throughout RRR. Charan and Rao share an electric chemistry on screen, essentially rendering their actual love interests as milquetoast side pieces. If you thought Hobbs and Shaw were a cute couple, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet; RRR is bromantic action nirvana.

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RRR, S.S. Rajamouli, Ram Charan, N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, Prakash Raj

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