December 30, 2022 – This big epic action movie reminds me of some of those Fast and Furious movies because of the really outlandish action sequences, but this film has the added attraction of a dance off, big musical numbers and songs in the style of Bollywood movies.
I don't have the proper background in Bollywood movie, Indian culture or history to comment on those things, which are a big part of this movie, so I'll just stick to the elements that all movies share. The central theme of this movie is the relationship between two men, Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan Teja) and Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and their relationship to the people of India. These two characters are loosely based on real historical people.
Set in the 1920s when India was under British rule (the “British Raj” lasted from 1858 to 1947) the story pits the Indian rebels versus the evil British rulers, who are embodied by Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson of “The Three Musketeers”) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”). The Buxtons kidnap Malli (Twinkle Sharma) a young native girl. In the process they order the murder of Malli's mother. Bheem travels to Delhi to rescue her, traveling in the guise of Akhtar, a Muslim.
Meanwhile, Raju, an ambitious officer in the British forces, shows superhuman strength and endurance as he singlehandedly takes on a huge mob to arrest an Indian protestor who threw a rock at a British officer. This action sequence is like many others in the movie, utilizing slow motion to emphasize the difficulty of the stunts and the amazing skills of the character.
When British forces learn of Bheem's presence in Delhi, they dispatch Raju to find Bheem and arrest him. The problem is the British forces don't know what Bheem looks like. Raju tries to infiltrate rebel forces to discover Bheem's whereabouts, but is discovered. Eventually, Bheem and Raju meet at a bridge where a young boy is trapped by fire on the river below. They team up in another spectacular action sequence to save the boy, and become best friends, neither of them suspecting the true nature of the other.
This relationship undergoes a couple of more radical changes as the story winds on through its three chapters, Rise, Roar and Revolt (RRR). First Bheem saves the life of Raju, but in doing so reveals his true identity and his true reason for being in Delhi. After his capture, Bheem learns about Raju's real reason for being in Delhi and the true reason he is in the army. This leads to a final reunion of the two friends amid the most outlandish action sequences in the movie.
These action sequences are not in the least believable, but they are original and entertaining. When I read this is the most expensive film ever made in India (parts of it were also filmed in Ukraine and Bulgaria) it didn't surprise me. It is massive in scale and length (over three hours).
Extensive flashback scenes fill in Raju's background, and his relationship to his father, Venkata Rama Raju (Ajay Devgn) and his old flame, Sita (Alia Bhatt) who has a key part in this story. Another woman who has a key part in the story is the kindly British woman, Jenny (Olivia Morris) who becomes friends with Bheem.
There is plenty of action in this film and the dance-off with Bheem and Raju is entertaining as well (featuring the Oscar-nominated Naatu Naatu song). The two heroes come across as superheroes with superhuman strength and superhuman healing powers as well. Bullet wounds and other injuries hardly slow them down at all. Raju actually takes on a god-like appearance in one action sequence, becoming the embodiment of Rama, with superhuman archery skills, using a bow and arrows borrowed from a Rama shrine.
This is certainly an entertaining film, but it does lack subtlety and its pace could have been improved with better editing. The lack of subtlety business may just be a feature of Indian culture. Like I said, I'm not familiar with that. But I did enjoy this movie, even though I did keep checking my watch to see when it would be over. This film rates a B.
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