RRR- Newton, colonial time and friendship in Rajamouli’s sublime saga

RRR- Rise Roar Revolt is a Telegu action movie directed by S.S. Rajamouli. It was written by K.V Vijayendra Prasad. The father-son duo had previously collaborated in making blockbusters like Chatrapathi, Magadheera, Eega, Baahubali- The Beginning, Baahubali- The Conclusion. The movie was supposed to release earlier but because of the pandemic, the date was postponed. The budget of the movie makes it one of the most expensive cinemas in India. According to IMDb, the budget for 3 hours 7 minute runtime movie is 350 Crore. Meanwhile, some other sources have estimated it to be around 550 crores. The official one has not been identified yet. The same source rates the movie with 9.1 stars out of 10. Ram Charan and N.T.R Jr are in the lead role as Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. Meanwhile supporting cast includes Ajay Devgn (Venkata Rama Raju), Alia Bhatt(Sita), Ray Steveson(Governor Scott Buxton), Alison Doody(Catherine Buxton), and Olivia Morris (Jennifer).

In the opening scene, impressed by the talent of a small tribe girl Malli, She is taken to Delhi in a forceful manner by Governor Scott Buxton and his wife Catherine Buxton. While trying to bring her daughter after she was taken, her mother is beaten badly by the Police force. Similarly in the consequent scene, the protesters are around the police administration demonstrating the release of Lala Lajpat Rai. The stone thrown by one protester breaks the photo frame of King George V of England. After that, the Police officials are permitted to catch the offender in the crowd. We get to see the entry of Ram Charan (Alluri Sitarama Raju) here. Presented in a masculine and highly dramatize manner, Ram brings him to the camp.The higher rank officials are amazed by his bravery of Ram. But on the following day, the award for bravery is won by others. It is so because of the nationality of the Protagonist and most probably, his skin color. This angers Ram but he is not denying any command from the British Raj. Similarly, Komaram Bheem is seen accumulating lots of energy to free Malli from Buxton’s palace. He has already given a promise to the Gond tribe and no one can stop him. He trains with the tiger and other animals knowingly to put his macho and aggressive self at the pinnacle. There comes a moment of emotion when a Tiger is told “I am using you for my own benefit, My friend. However, my objective is genuine” by Bheem. With the help of some clues, the Britishers are aware that someone dangerous is in the city to bring back Malli who could be a threat to the Raj. Ram is told that someone bringing that very threatening personality to the authority will be given a very special price. This leads Ram to spy on him. In one scene, the train explodes and a child is going through a very daunting and risky situation. Ram, who is at the bridge tries to wave to anyone from the other side of the bank of the river looking downward. Despite the fact that his bravery and identity had to be kept hidden and underground, Bheem is seen waving to Ram. The two protagonists on different missions meet here and develop a friendship. At an earlier time, a very close aide of Bheem, Lacchu is aware of the fact that Ram is a police officer. The protagonist a few moments back tries to befriend Lacchu and others but they eventually know that he is a police officer. Ram is also on another mission to nick him. After getting some clue about scouting from the Police, Bheem tells his friend Lacchu to maintain distance so that it won’t be risky.

The story unfolds from here. Sitarama Raju is on a mission to capture the possible threat to the Raj. He is not sure whether it is Bheem or not. In a nutshell, his mission is larger than that. He befriends Bheem for the shake of his benefit. But unexpected turns occur as their bromance succeeds like an ideal one. It is fine to remember Rousseau here. He said “Man is born free but everywhere is in chains.” This very quote is relevant in the life of Bheem and Ram. On the other hand, Bheem is already in the town to free Malli. Bheem is turned Akhtar to hide his identity while working in the garage base. Because of his skills and generosity at the same time, he is likened by Jennifer (Jenny), who is from Brit nobility. The language barrier and cultural shocks make it difficult for him to interact with Jenny however, Ram helps him in developing amity with her. Ram finds Lacchu in a strange part of the city. The power and effort from Ram’s side won’t compel Lacchu to reveal the identity of their group leader. In an intense fight and interrogation, he is conspired by Lacchu when a snake bites him. He is told that if the anti-venom is not given within an hour, he might die. Careful about his health, Ram rushes toward Bheem. Belonging to the Gond tribe, Bheem and his friends are well aware of how to cure the side effects. On the contrary, Bheem and his group were planning to escort Malli on the same day. Bheem is seen confessing to Ram about the plan after consoling his pain. This development prepares Ram to be ready at the earliest. Bheem is already at the Governor’s Palace with wild animals including tigers to attack his enemies. This particular scene has a different fanbase. In the midway, while planning to enter the palace, he gets obstruction by Ram, his close friend. This unexpected turn shocks Bheem as he never could have expected that his Buddy could arrest him. For the shake of his beloved Milli, whose mission was to bring her, he surrenders.

It is important to know why Rama is having contradictory role here. This guy is off to a great mission. He was a trained shooter since he was childhood and is aware of how to use weapons. His end is something challenging yet possible given the inspiration from his admired father, Venkata Ramaraju(Ajay Devgn). As said by Machiavelli “End justifies the means.” This powerful quote defines the journey of Rama throughout the movie. His bravery often had angered British officials as well. All he maintained consistently was calmness, resilience, and bravery toward the objective. For that, he had to compromise a lot on the means. He was depicted as a violent officer by the people. But he was getting admiration from Governor Scott and the Raj. It was the dream of his father Venkata Ramaraju to provide guns to each revolutionary fighter. In a flashback, he is seen in a speech motivating that “If the British Raj is afraid of one gun, imagine the significant change when each fighter will have a gun to protect themselves and revolt.” In early childhood, Ram already loses his mother and now his father is risking his own life to kill other British soldiers. Ram shoots a gun near his father’s end and all the parties die. This particular incident is a huge lesson for Ram on how important his mission is.

While Bheem is supposed to get the death penalty via a public execution. If he kneels down, Governor Buxton could leave him. He is beaten by Ram, the promoted officer in front of the audience. His song and consistent genuine determination against the atrocities of the Raj inspire people. Ram is told by his junior colleague that he is in charge of an arms shipment, the mission is in progress. Ram conveys Colonel to punish Bheem in front of an audience including Malli at the bank of the Yamuna river. He succeeds in it but has another master plan. Sadly, Governor starts to know something is hidden when he sees Ram talking with Milli while taking her to the car. Ram’s plan of killing the Governor fails when the latter’s employee obstructs him however Malli is safe in the hands of Bheem, thanks to his friend. Ram in the eye of Bheem is a cunning person who is behaving in entirely indifferent and unexpected ways. In the scene followed, British forces are searching Bheem in the place adjacent to Delhi. This brings chaos and uncertainty in the locality as everyone is getting investigated. Bheem’s fears are driven away when Sita cleverly dramatizes that many people in the locality have smallpox. When Bheem asks her about who she is, her answers and a part of the trinket unfold the reality. Similarly, Bheem is now aware of Ram’s mission and regrets his prejudice by appreciating the sacrifice his friend has done. He assures Sita that he will bring Ram alive. Meanwhile, Ram has been in prison for months in extreme condition. He is rescued by Bheem amidst many challenges. We get to observe the climax scene when both are obstructed by British forces while returning home. Nearby the boundary is the statue of Lord Rama, worshipped by the protagonists. While British forces chase them, they are turned more aggressive and determined to deal at the earliest. Ram represents the fire element while Bheem the water, last fight scene is all we root for entertainment. Rajamouli portrays the fire element of character in such a way he is shooting lots of arrows from the bow to kill the enemies of the other side, the British forces. Meanwhile, Bheem is representing the water element and is seen nearby ponds or water resources. At the climax of the movie, Bheem is told by Ram that it’s time to kill Mahasur(Demon). And they go on to kill Governor Buxton, who is shown as the main antagonist of the picture. Similarly, his wife also dies of explosion and chaos. The mission of providing weapons to the common people turns into reality and Ram is happy. He meets Sita after a long time, thanks to Bheem and his promises. Similarly, the latter is also accompanied by his love Jenny and all are happy together. Meanwhile, the Gond tribe people and Malli’s family are pleased to see their daughter after a long time. Bheem again delivers his promise.

Rajamouli, also a visual storyteller always succeeded at presentation and screenplay. There are many instances when a particular scene represents more than one thing. They may have something to offer philosophically, intellectually, or in any creative manner. The same case was with his previous movies. Personally, the best aspect of RRR was the portrayal of everyday reality and atrocities faced by the people during the British Raj. Set in 1920’s India, the everyday reality was not fictional. We live in a post-colonial world and reality but only the people living in previous generations could have known what it means to be getting independence. What it means to be free after all. Rajamouli had a huge opportunity to present such reality in a more realistic manner but the problem is he has limited a large portion of the screen to two masculine characters. Also unknown about the role of the Gond tribe during the movement against the empire. I assume many tribes in India had a significant role in making India an independent state. Any particular scene cannot represent the intense repression and subjugation faced by the indigenous communities in any part of the world. Bheem’s and Ram’s actions are given so much emphasis that such story portrayals have been ignored. The movie could have played a crucial role in showcasing their sacrifice and many atrocities they have faced to date, although dated back a long time.

The movie could have been more engaging if Sita and Jenny were given more screen time. Sita and Jenny, to some extent, have played a very important role. Sita is waiting for her revolutionary husband. Meanwhile, she also saves the villagers and Bheem from the possible threat of British forces by telling them that people in the locality have smallpox. On the other hand, Jenny helps her love interest, Bheem by letting him know about the small girl, Malli. Similarly, she also provides an area map where his friend was hidden in an unusual prison. The action of these two female character shows commitment towards means as well as end. The flaws of the movie would have been reduced if females were given more roles. The bromance between both the guys was okay but prioritizing heterosexual love could have added some rainbow. Given the masculine and action-oriented focus on the objective of revenge, it is like a typical South Indian movie. Ajay Devgn (Venkata Rama Raju) despite less screen time, has an impactful role. And obviously, we get to see his wife on the screen (Shriya Saran) on a few occasions. She dies of violent aggression.

We go to watch the movie because of some reasons and the same thing applies to the moviemaker’s case as well. For instance, thirteen years ago I watched Magadheera in a hostel, the first South Indian movie I remember watching by name. That was indeed a romantic motion picture blended with some myth. On the other hand, the success of the Baahubali franchise introduced me to the director himself. Since I hadn’t been to the theatre in 2.5 years because of the pandemic, RRR was an instance that took me to the hall, thanks to the director. Meanwhile, makers of cinema have an objective while making a movie. The thing which is suitable for realistic and dark cinema may not get along with commercials or action features. Although the audience may enjoy in the same propensity, the subjective experience of the movie varies. The audience looking after logic and principles of physics may certainly feel difficult to tolerate. Also reflecting back, my big expectation is not compatible with the commercial end of makers since I was mentioning the approx. budget of the movie. But I cannot deny the fact that it offers entertainment and entertainment. RRR has some problems but you won’t get disappointed watching it.

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