Update: A new courtroom drama just hit No.6 on Netflix — here's what you need to know
We've just ventured to a theater to see Netflix's latest win, which is — surprise — another film that proves you shouldn't shy away from subtitles. Released on Netflix on May 22, the Indian blockbuster RRR (yes, RRR) is one of those movies that comes out of nowhere to most, but has been on the tips of the tongues of movie buffs around the world.
RRR, which just came back to theaters for a very-short 2-night run (which was supposed to just be one night only) on June 1 and 2, stands for Roudram Ranam Rudhiram in its native Telugu translates to Rise, Revolt, and Revenge in English (Though, originally it was a placeholder for the director and stars names). And now it's got a good shot of getting onto our best Netflix movies list.
One of our recent picks for the best new movies to watch online, RRR is currently ranked at #7 on Netflix's Top 10 movies in the U.S. Today list (and has been there since yesterday). But that's just a hint at the film's success on Netflix. In its second week on Netflix (May 23 - 29), RRR made it to the #1 slot in the non-English films list for the streaming service, after being at the #6 slot the week before (May 16 - 22).
So far, Netflix's numbers reflect its audiences have watched 25,540,000 hours of the film in its two weeks on the service. Comparatively to the English-language films on Netflix from this past week, that's just over the 24+ million hours that Senior Year pulled in (during its third week on Netflix), and less than the 32+ million hours that A Perfect Pairing viewers logged (in its second week).
So, what's all the fuss about?
Why is RRR so popular?
RRR is the latest film from Indian film director S. S. Rajamouli, whose films are classified as high fantasy. Released in March, but hard to find in the U.S. for various reasons we'll get to below, RRR is — by Rajamouli's own words — an "imaginary friendship between two superheroes."
Having just watched it, I can say that the description I had read — Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.), a pair of Indian folk heroes, fight British Colonialists in the 1920's — is one of the best ways to distill a very complicated and awesome movie.
That might not sound like fantasy to you, but check out Netflix's RRR trailer. Jam-packed in a series of blink-and-you-miss-it moments, is a shot where Komaram Bheem is throwing a motorcycle at someone, you know, as a weapon.
As someone who's proudly seen all the Fast and Furious movies in order and loved Top Gun Maverick, RRR has been on my radar for weeks. Full of flying arrows, fire, trees thrown as weapons and tigers just itching to maul, RRR has been lauded by critics, earning an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 94%.
The only asterisk for these reviews is that RRR's not exactly penetrated the market here, with only 29 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
Analysis: Netflix's RRR has one catch
A couple of friends of mine have been raving about RRR since its limited release in the U.S. began. I, unfortunately, missed the first window when local theaters in NYC were screening RRR regularly.
But I'm told that Netflix, for some reason, got the lesser version of RRR. As you'll see when you load it, Netflix has a Hindi translation of RRR, and not its original Telugu. This may be because Hindi is a more popular language, but I'm told the movie will lose a lot in translation, as its musical segments drop something in translation going from Telugu to Hindi. This is a problem because Netflix is believed to have translated the Hindi and not the original Telugu for the English subtitles. And as one friend said, "The lyrics are metal as f**k when you get a direct translation" in the theater.
Oh, and the spectacle of RRR, I was told, is best in theaters. And I can state that's correct, as the experience I had in theaters on Thursday night was one-of-a-kind. We were clapping to the beat of the music in one of the fight scenes at the movie last night, in a fantastic moment.