As the film continues its momentum into the Oscars season in Hollywood, BBC’s Meryl Sebastian breaks down its universal appeal. According to director SS Rajamouli, RRR was developed primarily for Indians both at home and abroad.
However, since it was released, the film, which stars Ram Charan and Jr NTR and is based on the true tale of two Indian rebels battling against British rule, has broken a number of taboos.
It has already broken box office records in Japan and has made over 12 billion rupees ($146.5 million, £120 million) worldwide. The British Film Institute and the American National Board of Review, among others, have featured it in their best-of-year 2022 lists.
Golden Globes were given last week to the film’s popular and upbeat musical track Naatu Naatu. The song and the movie both did quite well at this week’s Critics’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles. BBC Culture’s Nicholas Barber and Caryn James ranked it as one of the year’s best 20 films.
Many interviews with Rajamouli reveal his delight and astonishment at the film’s success throughout the world.
On the US talk programme Late Night with Seth Meyers, he said, “When we began receiving admiration from the West, we assumed, ‘These people must be friends of the Indians who went to see the film.
Siddhant Adlakha, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle who voted for Rajamouli as best director in December, says that when RRR was originally released in the US, it wasn’t that different from other big Indian films.
According to Adlakha, “during opening weekend, the attendance was largely Indian.” However, “within just a few weeks, there was a dramatic change in the demography.”
Word about the film spread as people flocked to watch it in theatres, critics wrote rave reviews and A-list Hollywood directors – including Anthony and Joe Russo, Edgar Wright, Scott Derrickson and James Gunn – praised it.
#RRR screened in Hollywood tonight. Multiple standing ovations, loud cheers throughout, good chunk of the audience got up to dance in the middle of the movie, and of course thunderous applause + more dancing over credits. A party. The cast was so overwhelmed by the reaction. 🤎 pic.twitter.com/Ne5o8dmTth
— Johanna Fuentes (@jfuentes) January 10, 2023
American distributors have said they screened the film after seeing the enthusiastic public response to the film. This reception is “different from any [Indian] film in recent memory”, Adlakha says.
Social media videos from screenings show people hooting and cheering as they watch the movie. The boisterous energy on display – common for films with superstars in Indian theatres – is a rare sight in the US.
While the film’s storytelling and confident execution have drawn viewers, the timing also helped.
“RRR is loud, it’s brash, it’s over the top. This was the movie people were waiting to go back to see – in theatres, or even at home on Netflix,” says Elaine Lui, a TV
host and founder of the entertainment news site LaineyGossip.
Though RRR isn’t India’s official entry to the Oscars – it lost out to the Gujarati language movie Chello Show – the hype around it has put it firmly in the running for nominations, with support from a host of Hollywood directors and stars who’ve called it an “absolute blast”.
Trade magazine Variety predicts the film could be nominated in categories including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Original Song.
The makers’ decision to not submit RRR in the international film category but ambitiously go up against Hollywood heavyweights “made people sit up and take notice”, says Lui.
So this just happened at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood #RRR pic.twitter.com/6ttobVeXNN
— Andrew Marszal (@andrewmarszal) January 10, 2023
“In the industry, the ‘buzz’ is a big deal,” Lui says. And RRR has become part of watercooler conversation. “Everybody on the weekend, or at parties right now is saying, ‘Did you see RRR?'”
While the world is really ecstatic about RRR, tell us have you watched the movie yet? Let us know in the comments.