Netflix premiered the Indian film RRR in the US on May 20, 2022. The Telugu-language movie (released in Hindi and English in the US) was directed by S. S. Rajamouli who co-wrote the story with V. Vijayendra Prasad. Set in 1920, the fictional tale follows two Indian revolutionaries as they separately challenge the English rule in India in their own ways.
RRR might be best described (from an American point-of-view) as a hyper-action film with a dose of West Side Story. Yeah, West Side Story. But don’t get turned off if you’re not into musicals. There is really only one scene that features ballroom dancing. The rest of the film is a mix of drama, comedy, and action.
At times, RRR is also a brutal movie that isn’t for the faint-hearted. Add a drop of violence from á la Inglorious Basterds into the mix and we’re getting closer to defining the genre. Or, maybe the genre doesn’t need to be defined. Maybe we can just call it “fun.” But we’re here to discuss the video and audio quality of RRR. So, let’s get to it.
RRR is presented in super-sharp 4k resolution but without Dolby Vision HDR. Not that it needs it. The color palette in the film is already super-saturated and contrasty, as if the video was passed through an Instagram filter. Does RRR hold up to the standards we are used to? It certainly does.
At eight minutes you can get a wide shot of a crowd that is very impressive. The color is minimal but rich with detail. The barbed wire in this specific shot really displays the clarity that content is capable of in 4K. The close-ups of eyes, mustaches, and military medals on the uniforms are also evidence of this high-quality video (check out how clear the name tags are!).
The big dancing scene (referred to as “Let’s Naacho”), is, let’s just say, goofy and unforgettable. But the video quality is something you won’t forget – a very bright image with good sharpness and color saturation. It would be great to see this on 4k Blu-ray with HDR, however, where some of the blown-out highlights might be recovered.
Starting with the opening credits and music score, the audio is a left-to-right and front-to-rear experience. We reviewed RRR on three different audio systems. The first was a five-channel system with two front towers, a center 2-way, two side speakers, and a sub-woofer. This was obviously the best way to hear the film. The dynamic range was clear through the various frequencies and at key moments filled the space. The dialogue is crisp. Some sound effects probably didn’t need to be so overexaggerated, as in knife punctures and kicks to the body, but you might expect that type of sensationalism in a film like this.
The sound design elements and the music score (both by M. M. Keeravani) tended to move to the side channels more than anything else. Audio in the rear channels was sparse but popped up here and there. The scene where Raju leads Bheem to be hanged has some excellent audio design that puts the viewer in the chase. The finale of the movie seemed to have some of the best immersive sound. Effects and music score elements move around subtly, but gunshots (although maybe placed randomly) are dropped into the rear speakers.
The second audio review was done with high-quality Sony headphones connected via Bluetooth. The sound really moved around even with just two channels (left and right ears). The third audio system was a Sony Atmos sound bar 7.1 with a subwoofer. This setup (as expected) provided a mainly frontal audio approach with occasional movements from the left and right sides.
All three systems provided an excellent experience, each with its own qualities that worked for the film.
RRR is a blast. At 182 minutes it’s a long movie that may call for one or two breaks but you may find yourself wanting to get back to the story real quick. The CG animals don’t exactly fool you into thinking they are real (in fact, a disclaimer at the beginning of the film tells you no animals were harmed in the making of the film) but if you can just suspend your disbelief for a bit the story becomes even more fun. The 4k presentation is really good. The close-ups are extremely sharp, but we’d still love to see what this could look like on 4k Blu-ray or as a 100GB download. As far as audio, the music composition, sound design, and dialogue are vibrant throughout.