Never before had India been so eagerly waiting for the Oscar Awards night. On Sunday, March 12 (US Pacific Time)/Monday, March 13 (IST), as the awards for best song category will be announced, a billion hearts will beat for ‘RRR’ and its wildly popular ‘Naatu Naatu’ number. From 2018 when the movie was announced, to 2022 when it was released, and finally 2023 when RRR is poised on the cusp of moviedom history, the film’s journey has been a saga in itself.
Helmed by master director S.S. Rajamouli and starring Ram Charan and NTR Jr, ‘RRR’ is India’s first concerted attempt at making the cut at the Academy Awards.
Rajamouli had already established his cinematic credentials with an unbeaten string of box office hits topped up with the ‘Bahubali 2’ phenomenon. However, the sheer scale and vision of ‘RRR’ was unprecedented and audacious.
Soon after the release of ‘Bahubali 2’ in 2017, it was expected that Rajamouli would take a breather. However, he belied all such speculation with the announcement in March 2018 of his next movie tentatively titled ‘RRR’.
Initially, it was given to understand that the unusual name denoted the first letter in the names of the director and two protagonists – Rajamouli, Ram Charan, and NTR Jr who’s first name is Rama Rao. Later the title was formalised as ‘RRR’ abbreviated for ‘Roudram, Ranam, Rudhiram’ in Telugu, and ‘Rise, Roar, Revolt’ in English.
The storyline revolves around two historical characters from the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Using the ‘what if’ approach, Rajamouli delved into a fantasy scenario that united the two protagonists against a single enemy – the British Raj.
Rajamouli developed the story that was penned by Rajamouli’s father Vijayaendra Prasad. However, Rajamouli has also cited international movies such as ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ among the inspirations for his epic movie.
Shooting for the movie began on a brisk note, but things slowed down in between due to a resurgence of the Covid pandemic. Shot largely in and around Hyderabad, RRR also had shooting schedules in places such as Gujarat and abroad in Bulgaria and Ukraine, where the iconic ‘Naatu Naatu’ number is set. The song was shot in the premises of the Ukrainian presidential palace in August 2021.
Produced with a massive budget of Rs 550 crore, the final copy of the movie was ready in November 2021, three years after the movie was launched. Thanks to delays caused by the pandemic, and some injuries that the actors suffered during shooting, the release date of ‘RRR’ had to be deferred repeatedly. The original release date was July 2020 but the movie finally made it to the theatres on March 24, 2022.
Thereafter, there was no looking back as the movie went on to set box office records of all sorts. Produced as a pan-India movie in five Indian languages and also dubbed into several international languages, the visual appeal and the storytelling style captivated the young and old, Indians and non-Indians alike.
The movie clinched critical appreciation too, with several awards including a Golden Globe. The last frontier that remains to be conquered is the Oscar Awards on March 13. A billion hearts wait breathlessly.
–By Narendra Puppala