Dancing is a fascinating and time-honored arena of combat, and no more so than in the exhilarating show “Naatu Naatu” (“Spice”) in the Telugu-language Indian blockbuster. RRR. In director SS Rajamouli’s action drama epic set in the 1920s, the musical number pits the lead duo, Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), based on anti-colonial revolutionaries from life. against an army. of conceited British colonizers.
The battle begins after the pair, still unaware of each other’s true identities and intentions, embark on another classic movie theme: a pure bromance, with Raju helping his new best friend impress a love interest. , the Governor’s niece, Jenny (Olivia Morris). After Bheem, still dressed in his Muslim shalwar kameez in disguise, he accepts her invitation to an afternoon dance at the Gymkhana Club, Raju kindly offers her one of his suits. After all, as a member of the Indian Imperial Police, albeit undercover, Raju is used to British dress codes.
Dressed in slim-fit double-breasted jackets and high-waisted pleated trousers, the out-of-towners make their requisite slow pace at the party. “You look amazing in your suit,” Jenny says, fawning over Bheem, as she ignores self-proclaimed “best dancer” Jake (Eduard Buhac). Bheem, in a trendy 1920s windowpane plaid, remains the chicest focal point, while Raju plays companion in a soft brown hue.
With their superhero physiques, the couple’s tailored suits feel progressive and revolutionary (pun intended) compared to the more traditional three-piece suits and tuxedo tails of British men. But costume designer Rama Rajamouli emphasizes that she maintained the authenticity of the period, which she found to be her biggest challenge, especially after her last two collaborations with the director (also her spouse) in the genre of fancy.
Pulling off the pivotal dance sequence was no small feat, requiring a crew of 12 to arrive four days before the roughly 16-day shoot in kyiv. Rajamouli estimates that they custom-made “between 120 and 140” ball gowns in India, while they bought and altered around 100 in kyiv as a fund. The ladies’ pastel color palette, in a limited range of shades, reflects British women’s fashion in India at the time.
For each hero, Rajamouli custom-designed six suits in breathable, wrinkle-free cotton French terry. Choreographer Prem Rakshith even built the dance around Rajamouli’s costumes. The “just stand and talk” scenes required custom-made outfits, “to make them look right,” says the costume designer. Roomier outfits then allowed for high-octane dance carnage, which trickled down to Raju versus Bheem, with the former faking a leg cramp to, again, help his lovesick friend win Jenny’s heart and the contest.
This story first appeared in a December standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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