RRR an international hit for Indian cinema with dozens of dubs planned

Indian cinema is taking the world by storm this year with the success of RRR, a big-budget Tollywood action epic set in the Britain-controlled India of the early 20th century. The film is a critical and commercial success, raking in $150 million worldwide as of May 28. Following its premiere on Netflix last month, it now ranks in the service’s Top 10, charting another international hit in the vein of Squid Game

But depending on where, how, and when you watch the movie, the language you hear may vary significantly. 

Big, bold, colorful, and relentlessly energetic for its entire three-hour runtime, RRR is a movie that does not know the meaning of restraint, be it in its imaginative action sequences or show-stopping dance numbers. The movie explores a fantastical alternate history where two historical Indian freedom fighters, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, befriend each other and join forces against the British Empire. 

RRR is big in every sense of the word: big budget, big action, big emotion, and big star-power with two of Tollywood’s highest-paid actors, N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, in the lead roles. That scale extends to its localization efforts. According to Republic World, RRR is set to become the first Indian film dubbed in 50 languages.

Watching the film in its original language Telugu, however, is more complicated than one might think. For many, Netflix is the most convenient platform to watch the movie, and for the present, the service offers the Hindi dub as its only audio option. This is due to a complicated web of licensing deals that comprise the film’s global distribution strategy, which is partly to credit for its international success. 

According to Vulture, Netflix plans to eventually expand its RRR dub options to include English, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese, and Spanish, but for those eager to watch the movie and only have access to Netflix, Hindi is the only option.

Those willing to drop a little extra money or perhaps explore Indian cinema beyond RRR, however, might consider a subscription to ZEE5. A streaming service specializing in Indian cinema, ZEE5 features RRR in its original Telugu and a wealth of movies and TV shows besides.

That said, the Hindi dub certainly isn’t a bad way to experience RRR. Media reports indicate that film stars NTR Jr. and Charan dubbed their roles themselves, maintaining the integrity of their performances.  

Regardless of the language, RRR’s visual spectacle is consistent across all versions, and those checking it out for the first time are in for a ride. The film’s Naacho Naacho dance sequence, which became a viral hit in its own right, is a good sample of what viewers are in for. Just beware: Once the song is in your head, it isn’t easy to get out. 

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Cameron Rasmusson
Cameron Rasmusson is a writer and journalist. His first job out of the University of Montana School of Journalism took him to Sandpoint, Idaho as a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee. Since 2010 he's honed his skills as a writer and reporter, joining the MultiLingual staff as Editor-in-Chief in 2021.

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