I Finally Saw RRR and I Have Thoughts

TL;DR: It’s a good movie, but it is not exactly what I was expecting.

Minor spoilers.

I wasn’t quite as excited about this as many others seem to be, but perhaps that is because I have more previous experiences with Indian films. It should be noted that India is obviously not a mammoth, but it is more like a continent that has consolidated into one country. This specific movie is a Telugu movie and that might have been part of the reason it was so badly snubbed at the Oscars (because it wasn’t even the official Indian candidate).

Now, one of the things that might keep me from liking this as much as I otherwise might is that India has been falling into the extreme right as of late. So, this could be easily seen as a propaganda piece. However, I don’t really know what the relationship of the Telugu people is to the right wing government. This could as easily be a cry for independence by that specific area of the country and I just wouldn’t know.

I don’t really mind the depiction of English in this movie. If someone took over your country for almost a hundred years and saw your people as disposable and hardly above animals, I’m not going to require you to be sympathetic towards them. Fuck them.

This is a bit of an easter egg I doubt was planned, but some of the English characters are played by Irish (Ray Stevenson and Alison Doody), who have as much a reason to hate the English as Indians and are definitely old enough to remember the British occupation. Ray Stevenson’s father was actually an English soldier, so I don’t exactly know how he feels about the whole thing. Anyhow, they might have first hand experience of the punishing nature of British rule.

The movie also gets darker than I was expecting. Indian movies have a history of not sticking to specific genres or genre conventions, but you still wouldn’t exactly expect the movie with a fun ritual dance competition to stand up against the Brits also include one of the main characters witnessing the death of their mother and also child death, on top of which, he has to take on company of British soldiers alone, as a child and finally has to kill his own father as a part of suicide bombing.

But despite this, it is overall an energetic, fun movie, which does definitely include western influences, but also keeps it very Indian (or Telugu). I don’t expect to see anything as glorious as Naatu Naatu in a Hollywood movie any time soon.

And yet, this is Indian in a way you might not quite understand, if you haven’t seen Indian movies. Like a true musical, the song isn’t just there. It drives the movie forwards. As for Indian musical numbers (which most of their movies include), they do so much. Here the two main characters are building their friendship, but also they are defying their British overlords openly, and there is the courtship aspect. While this might feel overstuffed in some other context, it all works here organically. The dance itself probably has cultural importance I’m not familiar with.

It is also a part of building the myth of these two characters. They are larger than life and the dance is just one way of showing that. Its good alternative to the otherwise rote acts of physical prowess the two exhibit throughout the movie.

Definitely recommended movie, although according to IMDb data young women (under 18) don’t seem to appreciate it very much, but I don’t think there are many readers under that classification on this blog.

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