Skyler Caruso is the Editorial Assistant of PEOPLE Digital.
RRR has garnered global success overnight upon its release on Netflix.
While the Tollywood epic has been a smash hit on the streamer since its release in May 2022 (having made history as the only film to trend globally in English and non-English categories in Netflix’s Top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks), RRR has recently gained critical acclaim with its award wins.
Set in the 1920s and spoken in the Telugu language, the movie — known for its over-the-top action scenes, like out-running tigers and kick-flipping over motorcycles — chronicles the unlikely friendship of Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), two Indian freedom fighters who unite to revolt against the British Raj.
The international success of the critically acclaimed film — which has already generated Oscar buzz — exceeded audience expectations worldwide, including director S.S. Rajamouli's.
“Yes, I was surprised with the reception from the West,” Rajamouli told Entertainment Weekly of bridging the cinematic gap with the East. “A good story is a good story for everyone, but I didn’t think I could make films for Western sensibilities.”
The positive reception doesn’t stop there. In fact, the genre-bending epic has grossed over $100 million worldwide with $30 million just on its first day — breaking the record for the biggest opening day collectively earned by an Indian film, according to Variety.
As the popularity of RRR — whose name is an acronym for Rise, Roar, Revolt — continues to increase, here's everything to know about the film (before committing to its 3 hours and seven-minute runtime).
The official RRR synopsis reads: "A tale of two legendary revolutionaries and their journey far away from home. After their journey they return home to start fighting back against British colonialists in the 1920s."
Starring Ram Charan as Alluri Sitarama Raju and Jr NTR (aka, N. T. Rama Rao Jr) as Komaram Bheem, the film follows the saga of two Indian revolutionary men — who after being once philosophically opposed, join forces to save a kidnapped girl from British colonial rule.
While that's the general plot at RRR's core, it's the action-packed madness throughout the film that's caused a stir on social media — prompting countless memes and the creation of numerous reaction videos since the trailer first dropped in December 2021.
In particular, it's the scenes filled with over-the-top sequences that defy all rules of physics (and logic, for that matter) that have managed to capture viewers' attention for its three-hour-plus duration, perhaps with some even wanting more.
What scenes exactly? Oh, just Jr NTR's flipping of a full-sized motorcycle with a single kick, characters' leaping humanly impossible distances through the air and the outrunning of tigers and other wild animals upon their unleashing. Did we mention there's fire? (And lots of it!)
Moreover, RRR is jam-packed with stunt work, choreography, pyrotechnics and VFX.
RRR's two leads are Charan and Rao, bona fide actors who have established themselves as A-listers in India long before their work on this film. While they play friends on screen, they are longtime pals in real life.
In fact, the actors’ respective familial backgrounds have been known for their arch-rivals in politics — but despite the generational feuding, the dynamic had only fueled a bond between Charan and Rao.
"The whole concept of having a rivalry brought us together," Charan explained to the Los Angeles Times. "The only path we could take was friendship because we were bored of [the] news of rivalry for more than three decades."
Meanwhile, Rao further detailed his camaraderie with his costar. "Opposite poles attract," he began to tell the outlet. "We look up to each other. It's a support system. We complement each other, and we can share a few secrets that will never get out."
RRR is a Telugu-language blockbuster but has been subtitled into 15 different languages. Furthermore, both actors dubbed their own voices for several versions of RRR in the most prominent Indian languages. In addition to Telugu, they include Hindi, Tamil and Kannada.
While RRR‘s international reach was met with much success, its span across India itself was monumental for the country and its various film industries — blurring its lines that are largely separated by region and language.
"We have started calling it the Indian film industry, as opposed to dividing it into Bollywood, Tollywood or Kollywood," Rao told the LA Times. "[Rajamouli] burned the 'woods," Charan added. "And just made it one big united Indian film industry."
RRR‘s filming timeline was hindered due to the COVID-19 pandemic but spans its principal photography in 2018 to its production wrap in 2021. More than 270 days were spent shooting, with a single sequence — in which the two friends fight it out amid wild animals and fiery explosions — occupying a total of 65 nights.
The film first premiered in India in March 2022, drawing crowds upon its release. It was also screened in select locations in North America at that time, prior to its official theatrical release.
Two months later, a Hindi-language version made for the Bollywood market was made available to Netflix subscribers in May — which was among the streamer’s Top 10 most-watched titles in America for nine consecutive weeks.
In the few months that followed, the New York Times reported that the film had grossed $14 million at the American box office and played in 175 additional theaters across 34 states by August, despite the simultaneous streaming.
Most recently, TCL’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles held a screening in January and the tickets sold out in 98 seconds! “What makes us very proud is that a small industry from South India, Tollywood, and one movie called RRR could open the gates to global cinema and bring us here,” Rao told the LA Times.
RRR nabbed the win for best original song at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards, receiving the honor for “Naatu Naatu” (Telugu for “Native Native”), the famed musical number that sees Charan and Rao burst into song and break into synced-up choreography. It also earned a nod for best motion picture – non-english language, though lost to Argentina, 1985.
It also took home two Critics Choice awards: best foreign language film and best song for the aforementioned number. Now, all eyes are on RRR ahead of the Oscar nominations on March 23, 2023.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film has a chance in the best original song category — and should it follow the trend of the previous award shows, its chances in this category remain high — in addition to best picture and best director (Rajamouli already won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director).
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