Having been under the colonial yoke themselves, the Americans have a less romantic view of the British Raj than the British. It is in that context that Richard Brody’s review of Rajamouli’s superhit movie ‘RRR’ becomes a riveting read – the review celebrates the movie’s in-your-face criticism of colonialism as much as it celebrates the movie itself: “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.
“RRR”—the title stands for “Rise Roar Revolt”—turns history into legend by way of heightened visual rhetoric…The director, S. S. Rajamouli—who also wrote the screenplay, based on a story by V. Vijayendra Prasad (his father)—derives a magnificent outpouring of creative energy from the inspiring fantasy of their volatile connection.”
Last week we highlighted for you James Crabtree’s piece in the FT on Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun’ sequel (https://www.ft.com/content/
There’s an overt element of exaggeration that bends the story into the substance and the tone of legend—the effect is of an onscreen tall tale. It’s a film of giddy, exhilarating hyperbole in which physical action pierces the barrier of impossibility but stops short of the supernatural or superheroic. And there’s a dashing graphic sense of composition and an assertively precise sense of rapid action that owes nothing to the generic jumble with which most Hollywood action scenes are filmed and edited. “RRR” is also filled with gore: streaming blood, spurting blood, bodies beaten and pierced and torn. Yet the combination of sharply determined political purpose and compositional artistry lends the horror an air of abstraction that stokes a sense of indignation or of justice without physical disgust or titillation.”
And as many of you will understand, Richard Brody does not miss a chance to highlight the brutality of the British: “The drama is rooted in the absolute sadism, the monstrous and indeed genocidal racism of the British, the governmental terrorism with which Buxton reigns, the pathological bloodlust of power that Catherine flaunts, the dehumanizing prejudices of subordinate officers, and the vile politics of hiring indigenous people to do their dirty work. The story’s view of colonial despotism involves not only grievous economic inequality but also relentless political repression—and a sense of fear that’s nearly a sense of doom, signalled by the absolute ban on Indian people owning firearms and the tumult that results when even a single rifle falls into the hands of one of them.
For all its political determination, “RRR” is also a musical, and an electrifying one. The movie is filled with music and with characters singing at moments of grand political import….”
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