Film: ‘RRR’ (Running in Theatres); Duration: 187 minutes
Director: S.S. Rajamouli. Cast: Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Olivia Morris, Samuthirakani, Alison Doody, Ray Stevenson and Shriya Saran.
IANS Rating: ***
Director S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’, which is the abbreviation for ‘Roudram Ranam Rudhiram’ or ‘Rise Roar Revolt’, is a torture fest, literally and figuratively, unless you view the film as a fantasy fiction catering to the masses.
Set in 1920s India, this is a fictitious story about two revolutionaries who, away from home, take it upon themselves to fight the British.
The narrative, divided into three chapters begins with ‘The Story’. It tells us how Mali, a pre-teen girl from the Gond tribe of the Deccan forests, is forcibly taken from her home and her parents to Delhi at the behest of Mrs Buxton, wife of the British Governor Scott Buxton.
The next chapter, ‘The Fire’, introduces us to the daredevil policeman, A. Rama Raju (Ram Charan), who goes all-out to impress his British boss.
The third chapter, ‘The Water’, presents Bheem (Jr NTR), the forest dweller who travels to Delhi disguised as Akhtar, a Muslim man, to rescue Mali, the girl from his tribe.
How Rama and Bheem meet, form a bond of contrived friendship, and take on British colonials, forms the crux of the magnum opus. Adding to the plot is Bheem’s brief romance with Jenny (Olivia Morris), Rama’s back-story, and his lady love, Sita (Alia Bhatt), waiting for him.
The film is packed with cinematic excesses and liberties. It opens with visually impressive frames and scenes, but gradually the novelty wears off as the storytelling appears lame and tiresome. It is only when the narrative breaks into its first song, ‘Nacho Nacho’ (‘Naatu Naatu’ in the Telugu original) that the screen comes alive, and thereafter the plot gains momentum.
The first two acts of the plot move at a leisurely pace, but the last act is hurriedly wrapped up in the last 30 minutes. There is a lot of gore in the form of torture — and that is when your spirits dip.
Not wanting the opportunity to slip, Bheem sings and stirs a revolution. This also happens to be the turning point for Rama, but that does not surface organically. The final 15 minutes with exhilarating action sequences showing Lord Rama destroying his enemies with his bow and arrows, seems more like a comic-book rendition.
While there is a patriotic streak to Rama’s tale, Ram Charan’s actions are so obligatory that it is impossible to be emotionally attached to him. On the other hand, Jr NTR, as the little girl’s saviour, is endearing. Alia Bhatt, as Sita, has hardly anything to offer.
Ajay Devgn as Venkat, Rama’s father, the policeman-turned-revolutionary mouthing instructions in English, “Load, Aim, Attack”, sounds preposterous, despite his intense demeanour and sincere performance. Shriya Sharan, as his wife, has nothing much to do in the film.
Olivia Morris as Jenny is passable. The only one to get your goat is Alison Doody. She very effectively plays her part as the obnoxious Lady Buxton, who demands to see Bheem on his knees and on not seeing enough blood, offers a special whip to make him apologise.
The film is mounted with ace production values. The CGI images seamlessly merge with live-action frames, but their quality varies from good to mediocre.