SS Rajamouli on RRR delay: 'We’ve surfed two waves of the pandemic, confident that result is going to be worth the battle'

SS Rajamouli opens up on why RRR will work whenever it releases: 'Underneath all the star power and visual extravaganza, there is an emotional story that will resonate with everyone.'

Subhash K Jha January 06, 2022 09:27:49 IST
SS Rajamouli on RRR delay: 'We’ve surfed two waves of the pandemic, confident that result is going to be worth the battle'

The release of your long-awaited film is again postponed. What are your thoughts as RRR awaits release?

It has taken us more than three years to make this film. We’ve surfed two waves of the pandemic, we’ve tackled various problems, difficulties and injuries and we’ve come out with a great film. I am eagerly waiting to see the reactions of audiences from all over the world. I’m confident that the result is going to be worth the battle.

Do the overwhelming expectations daunt you? What do you have to say to your audience which expects another Baahubali from you?

Expectations do not intimidate me. In fact, they strengthen me... To all the audiences who are expecting emotional experiences as good as Baahubali, brace yourselves because we have made a stronger film.

Ram Charan Tej and NTR Jr are both massive stars in Telugu cinema. Do you think RRR will make them as popular in the Hindi belt?

It is not as if they’re unknown faces among Hindi audiences. Audiences all over the country have known their work through their dubbed films which are regularly telecasted. Hindi audiences will be in for a treat since for the first time they’ve also dubbed for themselves in Hindi, and they’ve gone to great lengths to get the diction right. The sincerity and honesty with which they’ve portrayed their characters will definitely resonate with everyone. It is this integrity of theirs that I think will earn them more fans in the northern belt.

There is a lot of curiosity about Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt’s roles in RRR. How much of them would we get to see in the film and what made you choose them?

I’ve been a great admirer of their work for a very long time. I knew it in my gut that they would be perfect for their parts. They’ve done great justice to their characters. As to how much of them you will be seeing in the film, I think you just have to wait for some more time to get the answer. All I can say for now is that their characters will stay in your hearts for days after you have watched the film.

While Baahubali was a costume fantasy, RRR seems to be a historical epic. How much have you relied on actual facts, and how much of it is your imagination?

Though RRR is a fictional film, we delved into painstaking details to get the right look and feel. We went through thousands of photographs and the little footage of 1920s Delhi that we could find to create an accurate world. Special mention to Sabu sir (our production designer) for bringing his immense knowledge to paint the world of RRR.

SS Rajamouli on RRR delay Weve surfed two waves of the pandemic confident that result is going to be worth the battle

Ram Charan and Jr NTR in RRR

How massive is the release going to be and in how many languages?

The film is releasing in five Indian languages, and across 10000 screens all over the world.

With the Covid crisis still unresolved how large do you think the viewership is going to be? Most trade analysts see RRR as the film that will revive the Indian film industry. Your comments?

With the right precautions in place, I think the film industry can be revived to its previous glory without compromising on public safety.

Tens of thousands of people in our country are directly dependent on this great industry of ours, and it is important for all of us that people come back to the cinemas. It would obviously be a matter of pride for us if this change begins with RRR.

Your cinema is all about size, grandeur and visual splendour. With the digital platform dominating the cinematic experience do you feel your patent style of filmmaking is threatened?

OTTs have done many good things to visual storytelling. Easier access has bridged the gap between original content and audiences. However, theatrical experience is something else. There’s something magical about sharing a larger-than-life experience with 500 other people. Digital platforms are here to stay, and I’m sure that we’re going to see more great content in the future. But the theatrical experience is so embedded in our country’s zeitgeist that it is a part of our culture now. The theatrical experience was threatened by TV also a few decades ago. But since then theatres have only increased multifold.

Every major actor wants to work with SS Rajamouli. Who are the actors he wants to work with?

I admire many, many actors and I have the desire to work with so many of them. But it is the story that chooses its actors. I would ask any actor to play a character, however big or small, if the story needs them.

Where do your plans of making the Mahabharat stand?

Like I’ve said before, the Mahabharata is a dream project of mine. I will do it whenever I’m sure that I’m ready to tackle it.

Besides Baahubali there is no Indian film that can compete with the scale or spectacle of Spiderman. Does Indian cinema lack budgets or vision or both?

Neither. What we lack is experience and marketing strategies. We are gaining on both..It will not be long before Indian filmmakers make a mark on the international stage.

Finally, there are many reasons why the entire nation wants to see RRR. What according to you is its biggest USP?

I could say that RRR is the first true-blue Indian multi-starrer in a very long time. Or that we have shot some fantastic action sequences which will make for a thrilling experience. But underneath all the star power and visual extravaganza, there is an emotional story that will resonate with everyone. I would say that the story is the biggest USP of RRR.

Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.

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