I just finished watching RRR -- "Rise Roar Revolt" -- a movie from India on Netflix that's a mind-blowing three-hour combination of action, thriller, romance, dance, superhero, and probably other genres that I could recall if my mind wasn't in such a blown state.
(It's got English captioning, and quite a bit of the dialogue is in English.)
I loved RRR. India fascinates me. I've visited the country twice and was a devotee of an Indian guru for 35 years, which led to me spending a lot of time around people from India. So when I read about the movie in a Rolling Stone review, I knew I had to see this highly popular film.
A subversive, supersized screed set in 1920’s Delhi, the latest film from the Telugu writer-director S.S. Rajamouli — its title RRR means different things depending on what translated version you see, but the Hindi cut opts for “Rise, Roar, Revolt” — has already broken box office records in India and earned a rapidly growing cult following everywhere else, notably the States.
The first two paragraphs of the Rolling Stone review provide a good feel for this high-energy movie.
It’s tough to pinpoint the exact moment that the movie hooks you; mileage will vary per viewer. For some, it might be right from the get go, during a Melodrama 101 preamble involving a kidnapped child and casual colonial cruelty that leaves corpses in its wake. Others may find themselves leaning forward when a supercop, sporting the world’s most luxurious old-timey mustache, single-handedly beats back a crowd of thousands to catch a rock-throwing culprit. Or maybe the sight of a ripped, shirtless man sprinting through a forest and narrowly avoiding a midair collision between an angry wolf and an even angrier tiger is your investment tipping point.
Don’t worry: Should you somehow not find yourself entertained or exhilarated within the first 20 minutes or so of RRR, a.k.a. one-ninth of this film’s running time, stick around. There’s more. A lot more. Like an emergency rescue mission involving a sinking raft, a flaming train, a horse, a motorcycle, some rope and the flag of India. And a siege on a diplomat’s mansion punctuated by a CGI menagerie tearing into the British Raj’s troops. And the most frenetic, kinetic, class-conscious dance-off to ever double as a cultural fuck-you. And bromantic montages, slo-mo brooding, flashbacks that constitute their own short films, a man kicking an arrow through a tree trunk into another man’s head, and an acrobatic sequence involving a hero leaping, fighting and shooting legions of enemy soldiers while perched on his best friend’s shoulders that would make Butch and Sundance slow-clap.
A laudatory review in The New Yorker also is worth reading. It notes that while RRR is wildly nationalistic (I don't like Prime Minister Modi's Hindu nationalism, but I'm sure we both loved RRR), it does so in an appealing fashion that transcends modern politics.
When it comes to cinematic propaganda, blatant is better than insidious. Overt advocacy has the virtue of candor and the vigor of fervent emotion. A movie such as “Top Gun: Maverick” hides its messages under the guise of unexceptionable realities, whereas another new, high-energy, political action spectacle, the Indian film “RRR” (which was released theatrically in March and is now streaming on Netflix, where it’s in the top five), makes its statements explicit. It thrusts its imaginative artistry thrillingly and gleefully to the fore.
Here's the official trailer in Hindi.
And here's a great bollywood style dance-off. Be aware that there's quite a bit of gore and violence in RRR, but it goes along with the story line.