Why RRR Works for a Global Audience

Jan 11, 2023

S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR is already making quite a buzz in the annual awards circuit, including the Oscars. RRR has managed to emerge as a surprise contender — for an Indian film — in the Oscars Best Picture race. While opinions may differ on whether RRR can win the Best Picture and in turn, become the first Indian film to grab the coveted honor, there’s little doubt in the hearts of those who witnessed the spectacle unfold on the big screen across the globe that the film is quite different from anything they have seen recently. The recognition that’s following, whether it be the strong Oscars candidacy or the recent Golden Globes nominations, is just an aftermath of what Rajamouli has created in terms of sheer cinematic brilliance.

Much like his last magnum opus, Bahubali: The Conclusion, he has not held back in terms of putting his vision to execution with perfection and without fearing judgment. As a package, RRR manages to achieve what few mass cinemas have in recent years — presenting a movie that’s unapologetically grand and cinematic. Where RRR succeeds though greatly over its many Indian predecessors is in its ability to draw audiences the world over.

Related: S.S. Rajamouli Breaks Down ‘RRR’s Pre-Interval Sequence

RRR Thrives on Universality in Its Themes

Image via Netflix

There are a few themes that stand out evidently in RRR. For any regular movie-goer, it’s not a difficult task to identify what they are. In the camaraderie between the two protagonists, N. T. Rama Rao’s Komaram Bheem and Ram Charan’s Alluri Sitarama Raju, lies a reflection of strong brotherhood that becomes one of the overarching themes of the film. From the plot and setting, it does not require a great genius to identify that undying patriotism for one’s land is the other theme — one that’s common in Indian films and therein lies no coincidence that the first Indian film to be nominated for an Academy Award was titled, Mother India.

Moreover, the story of RRR is, above all, one about sacrifice, persistence and the question of the good guys’ victory over evil. In a world that almost worships gray characters as the benchmark for sophisticated cinema, RRR triumphs over them all by establishing who to love and root for, and who to hate from the first scene itself. There are no layers to peel back here, though the passionate performances of the cast just make it hard to not fall for the trick. RRR’s beauty lies in its simplicity and universality of themes. There is very little in the film that is alien to an audience unexposed to the sensibilities of Indian cinema. The film’s greatest achievement is not in its ability to perplex audiences through the cinematic splendor presented on screen, but in an aggrandizing way, it presents familiar emotions that will appeal to audiences regardless of background and geography. RRR’s essence is best reflected in the “Naatu Naatu” song when a crowd of non-Indians join in on a dance and sing with a pair of Indians trying to prove how art transcends all boundaries.

‘RRR’ Instills Believability Even Amidst Absurdity

Image via Netflix

At least in the film’s world, the protagonists are not superheroes who went through a scientific experiment and went ballistic in terms of strength and agility. Yet RRR’s lead characters exhibit what amounts to an absurd amount of strength for a normal human, enabling their larger-than-life marvels throughout the film whether it is joining forces to save a drowning kid or entering a British stronghold with a pack of wild animals leading the charge. The filmmaker’s creative abilities reflect best amid the moments of absurd action unfolding and how it is hard to be not totally mesmerized by the heroism conjured by the film’s leading men. RRR plays strong on its strengths and doesn’t shy away from making daring moves when it comes to traversing the space between reality and fantasy.

The film’s gallant approach to action doesn’t miss a beat because the characters, actors, and the vision behind it doesn’t make the mistake of treating it frivolously. The characters believe what they are experiencing is part of their routine; fearlessness is a part of life in which they must tackle greater challenges daily to survive. Unquestionably, in its style of action, RRR earns quite a few points as the gamut it presents is quite extensive. From old-school hand-to-hand combat to guns-blazing rifle action, the film manages to keep the action relevant and engrossing. Not to mention, the great camera work adds life to the action sequences.

Even from a plot point of view, RRR necessitates that the action is glorious and unbelievable. The story of people who are out to bring an entire empire down on its knees more often than not will require some suspension of disbelief if it intends for its protagonists to find some success. While many may fail in this endeavor, RRR flourishes beautifully. Scenes that may stand out as caricaturist otherwise come together to form skillfully crafted sequences of action rarely seen in cinema about ordinary humans trying to achieve extraordinary feats. Importantly, Rajamouli does not allow the action to steal the emotional impact of the scene even in the zenith of the action-packed moments. To be invested in the action, one needs to be invested in the characters.

‘RRR’ Strongly Represents Indian Cinema

Image via Netflix

In the first combat scene between the two protagonists who are based on real-life revolutionaries, Komaram Bheem struggles to convince Alluri Sitarama Raju to allow him to take his sister back. He keeps his attempts going until a final push by Raju results in the key, which opened the door to his sister, slipping away from Bheem’s hand. This event forces Bheem to retaliate against the man who had become an elder brother to him by this point in the film. Two stakes play out in this scene. Bheem needs to fight his dear Raju to reach his equally dear sister. On the other hand, Raju has his own reasons dictating his actions, which are directed toward a greater cause. Similarly, the action is not irrelevantly placed to evoke a sense of amazement in the audience. The action is consequential and hence more impactful, for both the characters and the audience.

RRR has everything Indian cinema stands for — melodrama, patriotism, diversity, and scale. It’s unique in its presentation and ability to inspire awe from the audience. There are multiple factors behind the film’s success with a global audience; most importantly, the audiences have received a form of action that traverses the realm of reality while attracting believability. It also presents global viewers, who have not been exposed to this picture of India, with a panoramic view of Indian life where celebration is a part of the routine.

RRR has managed to present a picture that captures the best of Indian culture, sensibilities, and imagination, which are always universal in nature. The film captures the essence of Indian cinema in ways that capitalizes on technological brilliance as well as the imaginative storytelling abilities of its makers. RRR may not be the best when it comes to individual elements such as story, but in its combined form, it’s a glorious representation of Indian cinema that’s centered around the Indian ethos and still rings a bell with the global movie-going audience. In its entirety, the Telugu-language movie sticks to the Indian brand of filmmaking but elevates it for global audience appeal. The worldwide recognition coming RRR’s way is testimony to the fact of great cinema attracting a diverse crowd no matter where it’s rooted or just how much it deviates from accepted notions of traditional cinema.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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