By Félix Dupin
On Monday August 15th, India celebrated its 75th anniversary since its Independence in 1947. This review is how I’d like to extend my best and warmest, even though belated, wishes for a happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indian friends!
Roudram Ranam Rudhiram (RRR)
In english Rise Roar Revolt
India, 2022, 182 minutes
Directed by S. S. Rajamouli
Produced by D. V. V. Danayya
Starring: N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Shriya Saran, Samuthirakani, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody and Olivia Morris.
Bolly… no, Tollywood
At first, I was very reluctant at the prospect of watching an Indian/Telugu production. My hesitancy was due to well-anchored stereotypes; beliefs that any Bollywood/Tollywood movies had to be long, cheezy, overly sentimental and replete with clearly unbelievable fantasies. This is a type of bread and circus material given to the populace to keep them distracted and obedient. I had maybe watched a handful of them, so why not give it a try, once more? I was taken aback by the fabulous qualities of Rise Roar Revolt (RRR), so much that I had to express my greatest appreciation for the movie in the form of the following review.
Warning: this is not going to be a technical review nor is it a historical critique, I do not wish to compare it to any other movies. I simply want to share with you what I think were the big ideas of this movie. So beware: spoilers alert!
An India yearning for justice
Despite the fact that RRR is a full embodiment of cinematic clichés and archetypes which I mentioned earlier, they are completely embraced and usually not overdone. In short, it works. More importantly, this is a movie that celebrates the great patriotic heroes of India. Consequently, I was happy to discover it and willing to follow the plot from the start, and thrilled to see how the Indian writers and production team portrayed their history in such a mega production. The story summarized here takes us back to the 1920s colonial India. The British Empire’s Raj representative, Governor Scott, rules with impunity and under his dominion, injustices and violence are every day’s lot of the Indian people. This unbridled hubris and sadistic behavior presage the uprising of an outraged people. From the beginning of the movie this barbarity was communicated forcefully, and this sense of injustice carries the whole movie forward.
Water and Fire
The two leading characters of the story are based on actual historical figures of the Indian revolutionary struggle. The character Akthar/Bheem, played by N. T. Rama Rao Jr., is Kumram Bheem, (1900/1901–1940), he was a revolutionary leader in the Hyderabad State of British India and came from the Gond tribe. Representing water in the movie he is leading a mission to bring back his kidnapped/stolen sister to his tribe. On the other side, Raju, played by Ram Charan, is Alluri Sitarama Raju, (1897/1898-1924) who was a revolutionary leader from Andhra Pradesh and represent fire. His goal is of a higher level, that of national independence. Both protagonists have personal reasons to have a grudge with the Empire on which the Sun never sets. The starting point of the film begins with Akthar’s quest to recover his sister. One man comes from the outside and the other infiltrated the British structure to defeat it from the inside. They will be made enemies by the circumstances that befall them before joining to defeat the Raj together!
Two elements (Water and Fire) and missions seemingly opposite will be transcended to a higher level. The tribal cause joining the higher cause is a great feature of this action movie. The two main protagonists after a very strong opposition will combine their strengths to achieve a greater goal than either could have achieved individually: freeing all of India from the British Empire. The movie imagines the friendship that could have existed between the two real life revolutionaries had they met before going back to their respective people where they fought British occupying forces.
I also found out that these characters are not only based on historical figures, but also go back to the mythological stories of ancient India. This was clearly given from the scene before the last battle, when Raju takes the features of the archer statue under which he was placed and treated by Bheem to recover from his several wounds. The namesakes, for Rama Raju share the qualities of Rama from the Rāmāyana while Komaram Bheem is the equivalent to Bhima of the Mahābhārata. These epic legends are the two most important of Sanskrit literature.
The British rule of the Indian subcontinent
If some are willing to support the pretense that the British faction is portrayed in an unfair and exaggerated manner in the movie… That the state of bellicoseness and evil is overplayed, let’s simply remind them of some hard facts: For 190 years, from the Battle of Plassey in 1757 to its 1947 formal independence, India was continually under the control of the British East India Company (BEIC) and the British crown (British Raj). It went through two dozen famines and lost an estimated 60 million lives, probably more. These were a deliberate man-made depopulation agenda led by British authorities to weaken the spirit of the Indians and keep them in servitude. And it continued until the end of British rule; Sir Winston Churchill even presided over the Bengal famine in 1943 that killed around four million individuals.
In the words of Dr. Gideon Polya, this was a ‘forgotten holocaust’, which happened while the West was ensnared in the horrors of World War II. Under policies of free trade, the Empire was exporting grains from India to provide them to the motherland and other more significant colonies.
Revolutionaries and Martyrs
The movie’s final scene shows us portraits of the various revolutionary fighters from different parts of India. They are described as embers and form a whole of predecessors to independent India, from Gujarat, Tirunelveli, Kittur, Calcutta, Punjab, Tanguturi, Palasi and Maratha. Notably mentioned are Bhagat Singh (1907-1931), Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), ‘Sardar’ Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1875-1950), Rani Laxmi Bai (1828-1858), Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680) and Kittur Chennamma (1778-1829). These different Indian figures represent a unified history of self-determination which is vital now.
The coming multipolar world
As the world enters the irreversible movement towards a multipolar order, nations around the world need to organize their citizenry accordingly. What better way then to have sovereign nation-states cooperating for mutual benefits and keeping away the globalists’ technocratic unipolar world order? It is my hope that this movie can promote a sense of belonging and unity for greater aspirations for the future of mankind in the Indian population.
The coordination between great world powers such as Russia, China, India and the United States (delivered of its British imperial syndrome) would prove beneficial for all of humanity. Ending endless wars, and learning to strive instead for better living conditions for all by ending droughts and starvation would provide noble goals for the coming centuries.
Independence almost achieved!
India has lived through tough conditions; it needs to tap into its revolutionary and millennial history to foster a definitive break with the British colonial era policies and move forward to great infrastructural projects designed to free its population from want and fear. Doing this as well as permitting freedom of speech and worship, as the four freedoms that were articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 would provide the basis for a genuine independence. Political and economical sovereignty are prerequisites to this status: only then can the independence celebrated in this film be truly achieved.
Despite some of the defects and incredible clichés you may encounter in RRR, it will certainly bring you smiles, anger, laughter, and maybe even tears at times. It certainly is entertaining and brings back a sad colonial memory which should not be forgotten. So enjoy and Jai Hind!
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