The Telugu blockbuster RRR presents a larger-than-life version of Indian history, all building up to a dynamic ending. The movie’s final act separates its protagonists Komaram Bheem and Sitarama Raju amid mutual distrust, only to bring them together again to continue their fight against the British colonial occupation of India. In the process, RRR shows the differences between its protagonists and comments on different ways of fighting option.
Directed by Indian film veteran SS Rajamouli and starring NT Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, RRR is a big-budget spectacle like The Fast & The Furious and one of the most successful movies in Indian history. Tribal protector Komaram Bheem and military policeman A. Rama Raju become quick friends, but find themselves divided by Bheem’s mission to save his sister Malli from colonial authorities. RRR has become a major crossover hit due to its larger-than-life action scenes and themes of camaraderie and rebellion.
Raju and Bheem eventually come to blows in a massive fight that ends with Bheem being captured and imprisoned by the colonial authorities. Raju gets his much-desired promotion to Special Officer, but is forced to whip his friend before a large crowd. The spectacle is meant to break the rebellion’s spirit, but Bheem’s resistance instead inspires a riot. A flashback reveals Raju’s true motive: rather than being loyal to the colonizers, he is instead rising up the ranks in order to be able to steal guns and arm the Indian peasantry—part of the real resistance that inspired RRR. However, when he’s put in charge of delivering an arms shipment and given a golden opportunity to carry out his plan, he instead decides to save Bheem.
Why Raju & Bheem Save Each Other in RRR
Raju’s decision to return for Bheem marks a major shift in his character and is a turning point in RRR, Previously, Raju had been willing to sacrifice everything, first and foremost his pride, to succeed at his mission of infiltrating the British army. Having seen the reaction to Bheem’s whipping, Raju realizes the importance of strong leaders in any resistance movement. The people at Raju’s flogging didn’t need weapons to revolt, they just needed someone to show them the possibility of maintaining dignity in the face of colonial oppression.
Later, Bheem returns the favor by putting himself in danger to rescue Raju from his underground cell, cementing his superhero-caliber friendship. He had previously abandoned Raju during his own escape, still believing that he was merely a military policeman who had betrayed him. However, after hiding alongside Raju’s fiancee Seetha, Bheem realizes that the two of them were fighting for the same cause the whole time. Bheem then has to make the same choice as his friend did: risking his broader mission to save someone important to him.
The parallel rescues show just how much focus RRR places on its central friendship. Both Raju and Bheem are unable to put their commitment to the anti-colonial cause above the life of their friend. But rather than simply being a case of personal connection overcoming ideology, both men rescue each other because both are necessary for the rebellion.
The Symbolism of RRR’s Final Fight
totally RRRRaju and Bheem represent two different ways of fighting oppression, similar to the thematic questions posed in films like Blood Brothersalbeit in RRR‘s much more over-the-top register. Bheem is a “tribal” who rejects Western culture and prepares a head-on attack against colonial authorities. Raju, however, is more Westernized, shown handling guns and working on motorcycles, and working within the colonial army in an attempt to undermine it. Together, they represent the age-old dichotomy between challenging the system from the outside and challenging it from the inside.
This difference in approach and background leads Raju and Bheem into conflict with each other throughout the movie, but in the final fight against Governor Scott’s army, they realize that both approaches are necessary. The two heroes switch places: Raju is riding a horse and shooting arrows, while Bheem is driving a motorcycle and firing guns. RRR suggests that the “Revolt” in its title must take a multifaceted approach.
Raju and Bheem are able to triumph, ultimately killing the sadistic Governor Scott. Scott’s blood splashes on a map with the slogan “The sun never sets on the English Empire.” This was a common slogan during the height of the British Empire during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, referring to both the literal geographical length of the empire (meaning that it would always be daytime somewhere) and the belief that it would continue forever. However, the Empire would unravel following World War II due to various anti-colonial movements such as the one depicted in RRR, The final shot of RRR‘s climactic fight is thus an over-the-top way for the film to thumb its nose at India’s former colonizers.
The Meaning of RRR’s End Credits Scene
Like many other Indian movies, as well as Bollywood-inspired movies like slumdog Millionairethe end credits of RRR feature an elaborate song-and-dance number featuring the movie’s cast. Director SS Rajamouli also makes a cameo appearance during this sequence. The song the cast dances to is “Etthara Jenda.”
The end credits sequence also features a number of Indian national symbols. Most prominent is the original version of the Indian flag created in 1906, with is green, yellow, and red stripes and multiple symbols. The flag went through many changes before becoming the more familiar orange, white, and green flag used today, and its appearance in the 1920-set RRR is a little anachronistic, but it represents the original desire for freedom and is appropriate for the larger-than-life nature of RRR, The dancing sequence also features portraits of prominent figures in the Indian independence movement including Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and Bhagat Singh, and historic Indian rulers Rani Laxmi Bai and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Some of these figures remain controversial in modern India, especially Bose, who allied with Nazi Germany against the British.
Ultimately, the closing sequence of RRR puts the movie’s story in the context of Indian patriotism, with the song lyrics suggesting that Raju and Bheem’s dream was realized in the form of the modern Indian state. While RRR portrays anti-colonial resistance as heroic, in an Indian context this isn’t inherently more subversive than a Revolutionary War movie would be in America. Still, the ending of RRR makes a powerful statement about friendship and resistance, in addition to being full of thrilling action.
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