Rise, Roar, Revolt on film

Ian Parker watched the Telugu blockbuster RRR on Netflix and then looked behind the scenes.


RRR is a big film; at over three hours watching it feels like bingeing on a mini-series. It was one of the films that brought Indians back into the cinemas, and has racked up over 45 millions views on Netflix. This film from south India is a multilingual winner from what is predictably now dubbed Tollywood, but you should notice that on Netflix the dominant language chosen by the platform is Hindi, which turns out to be symptomatic of something very problematic about the film.

Set in 1920s pre-independence India, RRR is based on two real life resistance figures, and imagines them meeting and doing lots of weird things together, including dancing. Most of the liberal Western press loved it, with The Guardian putting at number 7 in its list of best 2022 films, and even leftish Indian outlets were won over, offering little criticism. But there is criticism to be made, beyond the gut-reactions which labelled it Rancid, Redundant, Ridiculous.

I liked it a lot and started composing a glowing review, until I came across this article by Ritesh Babu that provides a detailed analysis of Hindutva ideological motifs that are at work in it. Ritesh Babu gives us a review that is better than anything I could have written, so here it is.

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Ian Parker is a Manchester-based psychoanalyst and a member of Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

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