If you were confused at the Oscars this year, watching an Indian film you've never heard of win Best Original Song, you weren't alone. If you don't pay attention to international film, there's a good chance RRR flew under your radar. However, this was a monumental moment for film in terms of Bollywood and The Academy. Here's why you simply need to watch S. S. Rajamouli's RRR.
RRR is an example of Bollywood at its best. Like a large portion of Bollywood films, RRR's runtime clocks in at around three hours in length, but don't let that intimidate you, this is one of the most well-made, exciting, impressive movies I've ever had the pleasure of watching. On the surface, it's the story of two revolutionaries during 1920 while the British Empire still had a grip over the Indian subcontinent. However, the story goes much deeper than that, it's a story about friendship, love, resilience, colonialism, and perseverance in the face of adversity. It's an inspiring story told by arguably the most successful Telugu filmmaker of all time, S. S. Rajamouli.
The first thing you will notice about RRR is the camera quality, which straight-up looks clearer than a pair of human eyes. Cinematographer, K. K. Senthil Kumar did such an incredible job with the camera work, which pairs beautifully with S. Sreekar Prasad's editing. The film had a budget of $72 million USD and it shows. Despite all of the technical achievements made by RRR, it's clear that the movie would not be the same if it weren't for the incredible dual lead actors: Ram Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr. Together, they play heavily embellished versions of Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. It's a fictional story about what would have happened if the two had met during the times they were active. The two have such amazing chemistry on-screen and you will find yourself rooting for them through thick and thin.
It's refreshing to get a look at colonialism from the perspective of an Indian cast and crew. RRR manages to balance the horrors of imperialism with lighthearted music sequences and a story of friendship. It seems like the intent of RRR was to make Indian audiences fiercely proud of their heritage, and after finishing the movie, it's hard not to feel proud, yourself. More than anything, RRR is a film about the indominable human spirit and strength in numbers that can be applicable to more than just The British Raj.
No matter what, RRR will go down in history as the first ever Indian (and overall Asian) film to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It's a big step forward for the Indian film industry when it comes to breaking into the American market. Never before have I witnessed a Bollywood film reach such mainstream success in the United States. I am not somebody who has a lot of experience with Bollywood cinema, like most Americans, our concept of "international film" usually does not go further east than Europe or further south than Japan. But RRR is a shining example of how much South Asian cinema has to offer. and how much incredible film you will be exposed to if you decide to climb the 1 inch barrier of subtitles.
Despite its gargantuan length, RRR is a film that will keep your attention, leave you on the edge of your seat, and put a smile on your face. Simply put, it's the kind of film that puts mainstream Hollywood to shame due to its technical and creative prowess. So this weekend, do yourself a favor and enjoy your first Bollywood film, I doubt you'll ever go back.