Hooray for Bollywood! Normally I don’t review Indian/Hindi films, but someone recommended this one and I was glad I saw it! A blockbuster sensation in India, it’s the most expensive film ever made in that country and I can see why!
Clocking in at over three hours (as most Bollywood films are), this 1920’s action/adventure movie starts with a brutal kidnapping. Malli, (Twinkle Sharma) an innocent little girl, is snatched from her peaceful Indian jungle village by the unbelievably cruel and tyrannical British Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his overly-sadistic wife, Catherine (Alison Doody) because the girl can sing & paint nice. Enraged by this act, Malli’s brother, Komaran Bheem (N.T. Rama Roa, jr.) a man with herculean strength, leaves the confines of the village and goes to Delhi to rescue her. That’s story A.
Story B unfolds with an unstoppable Captain America-type soldier in Her Majesties Army named Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan). This famously mustached guy can take on 300 bad guys and still get his man! However, Raju has a secret agenda that only he knows about. After he is assigned to find criminal activity in Delhi by the loathsome Governor, Raju and Bheem meet-cute while rescuing a child together. From there, these two guys are inseparable buddies with Raju even helping the shy Bheem woo the Governor’s beautiful and kindly niece, Jenny (Olivia Morris). It’s then that Bheem discovers that Malli is in the Gov’s palace and launches an insane rescue using a bunch of wild animals!
BUT! Raju, ever the vigilant soldier, must do his duty and stops his newfound friend, even going as far as practically killing him in several amazing fight scenes, and later by delivering a ghastly public whipping. Realizing what he’s done, Raju manages to free both Malli & Bheem in a tricky escape plan, but at the cost of his own freedom. While Raju is languishing in prison, Bheem learns the truth about his pal and this sets up the third act rescue and finale and, boy! It’s nothing less than jaw-dropping! Michael Bay would look at this ending and say, “Wow! Now that’s crazy!” It’s laughably surreal, utterly ridiculous, and defies all logic, reason, and physics, but dammit, I loved every minute of it!
At three hours you’d think you’d get bored, but there is so much story thrown at you, you haven’t the time. Sure, there are parts that aren’t necessary, but it rounds and fleshes out the characters so well. Check out the incredible dance break (a staple in Bollywood films) at the garden party. It’s simply eye-popping and joyously infectious to watch. And the acting is never dialed down. Roa, jr. and Charan, both devilishly handsome and charming are totally believable in their roles and have perfect chemistry together; you actually believe these guys are best buds.
Directed by S.S. Rajamouli, an Indian film director & screenwriter who is so popular there, he is considered the ‘Spielberg’ of the Indian film world. His films gross more money than anybody else and easy to see why. They are a combination of Michael Bay (explosions, slo-mo, and sweeping crane shots), Steven Speilberg, and James Cameron. Do yourself a favor and get a big tub o’buttered popcorn, set aside the time, and stream this incredible movie.
**Now streaming on Netflix In Hindi & English with subtitles.