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Netflix slammed over film that depicts the 1920s British Raj as being 'addicted to rape and murder'


A new film about the British Raj is at the centre of a colonialism storm amid claims that rulers are wrongly portrayed as being ‘addicted to torture and murder’.

Critics say the Netflix movie RRR – Rise Roar Revolt – grossly misrepresents history and that ‘fiction is presented as fact’ in its twisted version of events.

The £60 million film is set in 1920 against the backdrop of the fight for Indian independence, and is loosely based on the lives of two real revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who challenged British colonial power. Despite the film’s narrative, there is no record of them having met, let alone joining forces.

But it is the depiction of a villainous British governor who relishes violence that has sparked particular anger.

Critics say the Netflix movie RRR – Rise Roar Revolt – grossly misrepresents history and that ‘fiction is presented as fact’ in its twisted version of events

Critics say the Netflix movie RRR – Rise Roar Revolt – grossly misrepresents history and that ‘fiction is presented as fact’ in its twisted version of events

The movie – the most expensive Bollywood film ever made – opens in a forest in the district of Adilabad in the Indian state of Telangana.

The fictional Catherine Buxton, wife of Governor Scott Buxton, is entranced by a young Indian girl and tells her husband she wants to ‘have this little package on our mantelpiece’. 

The girl is then kidnapped and her mother left for dead after a guard smashes her in the head with a piece of wood on the orders of Buxton, played by actor Ray Stevenson.

Meanwhile, in arguably the most shocking scene in the three-hour epic, Bheem is flogged publicly without trial as Buxton and his wife, played by former Bond girl Alison Doody, complain that he is not suffering enough. They order him to be hit harder and demand that blood be spilled, before insisting the whip is replaced with one embedded with nails.

Other scenes show British soldiers massacring men, women and children.

RRR also features British actress Olivia Morris, who, as Scott Buxton’s niece Jenny, is romantically linked to Bheem.

The movie – the most expensive Bollywood film ever made – opens in a forest in the district of Adilabad in the Indian state of Telangana. The fictional Catherine Buxton, wife of Governor Scott Buxton, is entranced by a young Indian girl and tells her husband she wants to ‘have this little package on our mantelpiece’

The movie – the most expensive Bollywood film ever made – opens in a forest in the district of Adilabad in the Indian state of Telangana. The fictional Catherine Buxton, wife of Governor Scott Buxton, is entranced by a young Indian girl and tells her husband she wants to ‘have this little package on our mantelpiece’

Dr Zareer Masani, an expert on British colonialism, said: ‘The entire plot is a travesty of history.

‘It’s fiction presented as fact. Far from brutalising natives, British governors and their wives enforced the rule of law and opened schools and hospitals. There may have been occasional acts of violence in the 19th Century, but not in the 20th.’

RRR, currently the most popular non-English language film on Netflix, carries a disclaimer stating ‘the story is purely fictional’.

But Dr Masani, a former BBC producer who is an author of several books about the Raj, said: ‘I don’t think the disclaimer is enough. [The film] will be taken as gospel by many. It’s irresponsible of Netflix to be presenting this sort of stuff and I would advise them to withdraw it.

RRR, currently the most popular non-English language film on Netflix, carries a disclaimer stating ‘the story is purely fictional’

RRR, currently the most popular non-English language film on Netflix, carries a disclaimer stating ‘the story is purely fictional’

‘It goes with a certain kind of prevailing prejudice, which has even reached the BBC, to keep reminding people how brutal and exploitative the British Raj was, which is grossly inaccurate.’

Cambridge historian Professor Robert Tombs said: ‘This film is a piece of xenophobic slander, utterly false and without historical foundation. It panders to extreme nationalism in an outrageous way.’

Fellow historian Andrew Roberts said: ‘RRR seems to combine sadism with anti-British racism and a good dollop of historical invention. What you get is a very dangerous concoction of lies. It’s very, very sad that Netflix should be promoting hatred in this way.’

Free Speech Union founder Toby Young said: ‘Portraying employees of the colonial service as cartoon villains is par for the course nowadays. In reality, they were almost all conscientious, highly scrupulous public servants.’

RRR is the first Indian film to be nominated for Best Picture category at the Hollywood Critics Association Awards.

Netflix declined to comment.

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