With international features finding more of a home with Western audiences following the big Oscar wins for Parasite, it seems as though India, despite having one of the largest film industries in the world, has been one of the few countries whose perception among North American viewers hasn’t changed much.

At least, that was the case until the spring of 2022, when S.S. Rajamouli’s historical action epic RRR was released in the United States. Though the film made a quick transition to Netflix by May, it proved to be so popular among those who saw it that word-of-mouth eventually necessitated a theatrical re-release. Even with the convenience of streaming at their disposal, audiences were too entranced to resist seeing the film the way it was meant to be seen one more time. It was enough for the film to become the third highest-grossing Indian film in history.

The film’s critical acclaim has yet to slow down, as RRR has made its way into the top ten lists from a myriad of critics while also entering the awards race despite India’s decision not to select the film as its International Feature contender. Some of its major victories include a Best International Film win at the Saturn Awards, a nomination in the same category at the Golden Globes, and a surprising five nominations from the Critics Choice Association, including Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Director for Rajamouli. It’s all an indication that RRR is still on plenty of people’s minds, with some highly speculating that it could have a major showing at the Oscars.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

In this video, we will be discussing the various reasons for RRR’s unexpected popularity in the West. The film’s success cannot be attributed to just one element, as its delights stem from various sources, including the chemistry of its two leads, the kineticism and bombast of its action, and its entertaining re-envisioning of history. In fact, it could be said that part of the reason for the film’s unparalleled success is that it represents much of what is missing in blockbuster filmmaking. By examining the film, the Indian entertainment industry, and the current state of Hollywood in greater depth, we will be attempting to answer the question of why this particular film has won audiences over and what other film industries can learn from India because of it.

Here’s the Video Essay:

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