SS Rajamouli: RRR will be more emotional than Baahubali
Director SS Rajamouli, along with Jr NTR, Ram Charan, and Alia Bhatt, speak about the challenges they faced while making the much-awaited RRR
It is not an exaggeration to say that SS Rajamouli is now world-renowned. After the incredible success of the Baahubali films, as one can imagine, there has been much expectation surrounding the release of his next film, RRR. The director, along with Ram Charan, Jr NTR, and Alia Bhatt, experienced this hype first-hand during their recent publicity tour. "We have put our full effort into creating this film, and in the end, it’s up to the fans to decide whether we have made something big. I think the film will appeal to them," said the director.
The pressure of being part of such a magnum opus can get overwhelming, particularly for the stars at the centre of it. Jr NTR shared that they were all scared, given the trust Rajamouli reposed in them. "When he trusts you as much, it becomes challenging. He is one of the few directors who is able to tickle the hunger of an actor. Over the years, as actors, you do things in a calculated way, but Rajamouli sir was able to take us into a zone from where we felt that hunger again." This isn’t to say that Rajamouli doesn’t make great demands on you as a performer. “He does but he also guides you into delivering what he’s looking for." Ram Charan believes that Rajamouli has done full justice to recreating historic heroes, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. "He sketches each and every character in a clear manner and he knows exactly how it will appear on-screen. It’s really helpful when the filmmaker puts in that homework."
Did Ram Charan and NTR ever consider swapping their characters? No, they say, but admit that there was “definitely a lot of envy” due to the different schedules. "While I was shooting for my scenes, NTR would be free on the sets and I got envious," said Ram. The pressure on Rajamouli to provide equal space to both characters must have been immense. “The story manages this,” said Rajamouli. “After I completed writing the story, it was an instinctive decision to Ram and NTR in these roles. I wanted actors who could portray a certain brotherhood.” In addition, the director was clear that the stars have a ‘certain image’ as they were portraying Alluri and Komaram, two legends cherished by the people."It was surprising for me to learn that these two characters led similar lives, and yet, they had never met. I have fictionalised that meeting and have tried to imagine what it might have been like for them to meet each other," he explained.
Following the release of the film's trailer, it has come to light that both Ram and NTR have dubbed in Tamil for their characters. The Tamil roots apparently helped them. "Tamil is my second mother tongue. I was born in Porur, lived in Anna Nagar, and went to school in T Nagar. So, it was exciting to speak in Tamil again," said Ram. NTR attributed the praise for the Tamil dubbing to lyricist Karki, who he says, provided great support to the team while dubbing. "The only way to reach people's hearts is to speak in their language. I have tried my best. I think the Tamil fans will definitely enjoy it," added the actor. On being back in Chennai, an excited Alia said that she did not want to restrict herself to Bollywood. "I want to branch out and challenge myself. RRR was a great experience, and the film's team took good care of me. I was touched to see the love of fans. I would like to act in more South Indian films," she said, sharing that she would love to become a household name in the South.
For Rajamouli, Chennai is almost like returning to school. “Chennai taught me cinema," he said. The cast was united in admitting that Rajamouli's Baahubali has aided the popularity of cinema from the South. "People are now in search of talent, and any actor can work in any language. Vijay sir's Master was a huge hit in Telugu; similarly, Dhanush's films have worked wonders in Telugu. One day a great movie will be made in India, like Mahabharata, which is Rajamouli's dream project. When that happens, actors across the country will come together."
Rajamouli was quick, however, to note that he would fail if we wrote a film, keeping in mind the stardom of actors. He wants to work with actors like Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachchan, and yet, he is grounded enough to know that desire alone isn't enough. "The story should take us to the actors. That's how I have always cast my protagonists. Doing the reverse is the wrong approach; I like to be an honest filmmaker."
He is confident that audiences across the country will connect with RRR because of the emotions. "That is why Baahubali worked so well—the emotions worked. In fact, I think RRR will be more emotional than Baahubali. It also has more well-written characters than Baahubali." Despite the national, and why, even global fame, the director remains clear that his films will be made in the Telugu language. "That’s because I think in Telugu and so, it will be difficult for me to make films in other languages. Moreover, I make films about people from Andhra. Perhaps if I did a film about someone from Tamil Nadu, I may consider doing it in Tamil. It is all about the story." But Hollywood is a definite no, he declared. "Why do we have to do a Hollywood film when there are so many actors and stories here?"