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Monday, March 27, 2023

India’s ‘RRR’ unlikely loser in Hollywood awards race

India’s ‘RRR’ unlikely loser in Hollywood awards race

the angels— Hollywood’s awards season has found an unlikely loser in “RRR.”

SS Rajamouli’s three-hour minimalist action epic is one of the most expensive and highest-grossing films ever made in India. It paired two of the country’s biggest stars, NT Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, and topped the Netflix streaming charts throughout the summer.

The likes of JJ Abrams and Jessica Chastain raved about it. It won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for its energetic “Naatu Naatu,” and was nominated for five Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture.

but Awards ceremony Usually shy away from foreign movies and bombastic action flicks in focused categories. And “RRR” failed to win the Oscar for International Feature Film because India submitted Pannarin’s much quieter “Chhello Show”. Oscar nominations for best picture are still elusive.

To give their film a final pitch, Rama Rao Jr. and Charan traveled to Los Angeles to walk the gray carpet of the Golden Globes, mingle with Cate Blanchett and others at the party, and participate in voting for potential awards Crowded screenings prepared by viewers, including a screening at the TCL Chinese Film Festival in Hollywood theaters, hosted a wild dance party during the “Naatu Naatu” scene.

They did a joint interview with The Associated Press to discuss their real-life relationship, Rajamuli’s discussion of the sequel, and building bridges between the world’s film industries.

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: The film was a huge success when it was released in India, but Western audiences have been slow to pick up the film through word of mouth and on Netflix. What is your experience with this?

RAMA RAO JR.: When people watch movies on Netflix, you really don’t know what the audience thinks. But our breakthrough was when we saw Mr. Rajamouli screened on TCL (September). And the response — he got a standing ovation. I think that’s the beginning of when we’re starting to know that the West has “RRR” in their hearts. I wish we were all there. But I think this is our first breakthrough — also social media.

Charan: It’s been really satisfying to see everyone’s reactions. Everything we do is appreciated. Responses are priceless. Yep, it’s like a slow burn. But, nonetheless, this is like another feather in our hat.

AP: Ram Charan, you’re working on your next movie at least part of the time. How did you keep in touch with your “RRR” brother?

CHARAN: From the “RRR” journey that started in 2018, it is now 2023, and we are still in touch. I think we just take a voluntary break and we need time away from each other because we are so invested in each other.

RAMA RAO JR.: We are so in love. like each other.

AP: Rajamouli is talking about a sequel, but maybe you’re both booked up?

CHARAN: No. We’ll clear the calendar.

RAMA RAO JR.: We will clear the calendar. But unfortunately, we don’t know anything about it. We didn’t know anything about “RRR 2” until he talked about it. So if you interview him, you should actually get clarity from him so we know when it starts so we can keep our calendars free.

AP: Was this something discussed at the end of the movie?

Charan: No. nothing. When we first heard him speak to you guys. I mean, we’re not kidding. We never talked about it.

RAMA RAO JR.: He never told us anything.

Charan: Yeah, everything was a surprise.

RAMA RAO JR.: I would say it’s a bad thing. I hate surprises. Maybe Charan likes them.

Charan: He knew that as soon as he called us, we would clear our calendars. He takes us for granted. (laugh)

AP: How important was the film’s political message and release date to you?

Charan: Personally, I feel the film is more about brotherhood than nationalism or patriotism. It’s in the background. Clearly, this is the era we have chosen, and the director has chosen a sense of nationalism that operates underwater, like under a rug. But what you actually see is a whole fictional story.

RAMA RAO JR.: Brotherhood.

CHARAN: Brotherhood comes from two historical figures, legends. But at the end of the day, we’re not playing a part of history. It is Mr. Rajamuri’s interpretation, his fictional thoughts and writing with his father.

RAMA RAO JR.: Rajamouli himself, I really don’t think he makes films because he wants to send a message. For him, it was just storytelling, for entertainment… To tell the story, he chose a time frame in which India was ruled by the British Empire. Yes, it’s easy. So other than that, no news. But yeah, it’s more about two friends – their selves, their understanding of the world, each other, how they grow up together, how they separate, how they come together. How they left, separated, and how they reunited and grew individually in their lives.

AP: To what extent does that “coming together, parting, coming together” reflect the real-life relationship between the two of you?

RAMA RAO JR.: I don’t think we’ve ever acted in a movie. I think we are like that.

CHARAN: Yeah, but we’ve never had such a bad misunderstanding and separation in combat. But yeah, we’re pretty close. The characters we play are very close. For all the good parts of the movie, that’s pretty much what we share in real life too.

AP: What are your goals in Hollywood? Do you want to be in a Quentin Tarantino movie?

Charan: Of course. I mean, it’s always there. Like I said, coming to LA wasn’t part of our goal, but we’re here. So we go with the flow. Of course, we want to experience the big directors in Los Angeles and Hollywood, and I hope they can also experience our experience as actors, and share some Eastern and Western cultural concepts and stories. Of course, I’d love to explore it. And (Tarantino) is one of my favorite directors.

RAMA RAO JR.: We come from families that have been in the film industry for a long time, but neither of us ever planned to get into the film industry. Just by chance. By chance, we’re here today, talking about cinema in Los Angeles. So, yeah, I think we’re actors, and I think with “RRR” we’ve crossed those imaginary lines between the eastern and western film industries. I think we’ve wiped it off. It’s a nice crossover. There is a lot of talent here. There’s a lot of talent out there. I think everyone should come together. “Avatar 2” achieved amazing results in India. The same goes for Avengers: Endgame. So I think it’s time we all have to collaborate and start making movies for a global audience.

CHARAN: We are waiting for the day when all the “forests” are burned and there is one global cinema.

AP: Is it weird how most viewers experience the film through the Hindi version on Netflix?

CHARAN: But fortunately, we dub for all languages. It turned out to be us.

RAMA RAO JR.: So Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and so on – this is our voice. So we are happy. But yeah, I’d say maybe it should be in Telugu too. That’s now, that’s me, very, very, very excited to be Telugu. But other than that, “RRR” is similar to India, no matter what language it is, and I’m glad it’s reaching an audience.

AP: What has your family said about your strange journey with “RRR”?

CHARAN: I think they’re happier than us.

RAMA RAO JR.: I wish my grandfather was alive to see this happen. Of course he’s gone. But the family has been supportive and excited. Everyone is excited. Who wouldn’t?


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ryanwrd

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