SS Rajamouli today celebrates its 48 years. In 20 years, he made 11 films. And all of them have become the biggest commercial successes of their time. They say the true depths of a filmmaker’s genius and tenacity may not be known unless that director flops and makes a comeback with a blockbuster that dazzles both critics and audiences alike.
However, that might not happen in Rajamouli’s career. After having delivered 11 big hits, including the two biggest incomes of India in the world (Baahubali 1 and 2), the director shows no sign of misstep. As his next RRR film is set to hit screens, it is set to take the box office by storm again.
His films so far have proven that he has a deep understanding of the pulse of Indian moviegoers. And in that sense, it is second to none. So how does Rajamouli make one blockbuster after another?
Read. Read. Read.
Rajamouli’s most ambitious goal is to make a film about the Indian epic Mahabharat. And his vision for this film is so huge that he considers himself underqualified at the time to direct it. And he considers all films, including Baahubali, as just his training films so to speak to achieve his ultimate goal, the Mahabharat. Rajamouli’s fascination with our epics was instilled in him from an early age. He grew up on a steady diet of Amar Chitra Katha books. He noted that his mother Raja Nandini had encouraged him to read a lot of story books instead of forcing him to read his textbooks. And the comics filled with colorful images of epic characters from India widened the imagination of young Rajamouli and shaped his sense of storytelling. “Amar Chitra Katha, Ramayanam, Mahabharat, Bala Ramayanam, these are my foundation. I appreciate the education they gave me more than anything I have done in my career, ”Rajamouli recalled.
Find the right team
Cinema is a democratic process. Even filmmakers who fall into the category of writers are influenced by the team they work with. Putting together a team of people who understand your vision and your shortcomings and help you achieve your vision is half a battle won. “I have a certain sense of drama. But to bring this drama to the audience, I need great technicians, who can find flaws in my storytelling, correct me, polish me, and project my idea appropriately to the audience. I am a very good storyteller but not a great filmmaker. In order for me to become a good filmmaker, I need the right technicians, who can understand my shortcomings, cover them and improve my storytelling skills, ”said Rajamouli.
Difference between script and story
What’s the point in creating a good story if you can’t tell it in an engaging way? And who knows it better than Rajamouli, the creator, who turned a simple house fly into a superhero (Eega). “A story is made up of a series of emotional scenes. A storyline is something when distributors complain that the second half storytelling is a bit slow. The story and the scenario do not like each other. We must join them with force. Say, 10 minutes after the movie starts, you’ve got to hook the audience with some emotion. This is what distributors want. And distributors don’t care how or why it is needed in this story. All he cares about is whether or not you hook audiences emotionally within 10 minutes of starting the movie or not. So you should be able to tell the story with that kind of pace, ”Rajamouli explained.
Don’t make films for the markets
Making a film is a very personal process. And if you don’t believe in something you’re doing, you better not do it at all. Because that is how Rajamouli works. “The size of the market does not inspire me to make a film. History does. A character or an incident that makes you go, ah, there is a story here that needs to be told. If a story is like Baahubali, which is a Pan Indian film, fine. Or it could be a story about a simple guy (Maryada Ramanna), I’ll do it. Or it could just be a story about a house fly (Eega). After I finish making a film, I look at the economy of it, ”noted Rajamouli.
History, history, history.
When it comes to cinema, your story is king. You can get the dates of the biggest star of the day and spend a lot of money on promotions to get audiences to theaters. And once you get the audience to the movies, nothing but the story matters. “What is a star’s USP?” He can bring audiences to theaters. Once they enter the theater, the story has to take over and run the show. The star cannot direct the show, ”explained Rajamouli.