Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju: Telugu icons who breathed life into 'RRR'

In reality, the battles of Komaram Bheem and Sitarama Raju were different


Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju, two timeless icons of the Telugu-speaking community, each representing the regions of Telangana and Andhra, were the subjects of S.S. Rajamouli's RRR. After the success of Baahubali, the announcement that the film would be based on these two personalities raised the stakes even before the film went into production.

Komaram Bheem, played by NTR Jr., was a revolutionary leader from the Gond tribe of the Adilabad region in Telangana. He led a rebellion against the feudals aligned with the Nizam rulers of Hyderabad state while engaging in guerrilla warfare against the Nizam rulers, fighting issues related to taxes and land disputes. He coined the slogan, “Jal, Jungle, Zameen”. In the movie, NTR plays an innocent tribal rooted to his customs and beliefs, named Bheem. However, only the name and attire match the reality of Bheem; the rest is fictional.

In real life, Bheem went into hiding for a few years after coming under the radar of local feudal strongmen who were committing atrocities against the tribals. It is still unclear where he went.

Alluri Sitarama Raju, played by Ram Charan, was from an upper caste but grew closer to tribals as he was a native of the eastern ghats near Rajahmundry. At a very young age, he went on a country-wide tour to understand the problems of the people and gain exposure to the culture. Since Sitarama Raju stepped outside his home at around the same time as Bheem, Rajamouli imagined what would have happened had they met. Raju was called ‘Manyam Veerudu’ by the tribals who he led for the protection of Adivasi rights.

In reality, Komaram Bheem’s and Sitarama Raju’s battles were different. One was against the Nizam, and the other was directly against the British rule. Towards the end, Rajamouli took special care to show the transformation of Ram Charan into Sita Ramaraju, with saffron clothes and bow and arrow, which is the popular representation of Raju to this day.

Both died young in real life. Komaram Bheem was around 38, and Alluri Sitarama Raju was hardly 25 when he was killed by a bullet. Movies have been made about both of them, and to this day, politics and tribal movements centre around these two figures in the two Telugu states. RRR has leveraged their popularity, and the fact that the film is fictional has been made clear by the makers. While some corners have criticised the twisting of facts, the movie has been successful in its marketing efforts.