Happy Birthday SS Rajamouli: Not just Baahubali, these 5 films define him too
On SS Rajamouli’s birthday, a look at the films that made the Baahubali director what he is today.regional movies Updated: Oct 10, 2017 16:03 IST
If cinema is a director’s medium, then SS Rajamouli is its mascot. In a country like India that is so star fixated, Rajamouli is one of the filmmakers who can command more fee (and media attention) than his lead stars. That speaks volumes of his clout and popularity.
At the height of Baahubali frenzy when whole of India could see nothing but the scions of the Mahishmati kingdom, it came to light that it wasn’t Prabhas, who played Amarendra and Mahendra Baahubali in the epic drama, who was paid the highest. Yes, you guessed it -- it was Rajamouli who went home with the heftiest pay package. According to a Times Now report, Rajamouli was paid Rs 28 crore, ahead of Prabhas who made a cool Rs 25 crores. Not just that, Rajamouli also gets one third of the profits of the franchise.
Rajamouli first came into national spotlight when his film Makkhi (or Eega in Telugu) was dubbed in Hindi and released in 2012. It rode on a crest of favourable reviews. Praised as a technical stunner, Rajamouli received glowing mention as a creator and a master storyteller who had made a common housefly into a hero. In 2015 came Baahubali: The Beginning and the rest, as they say, is truly history.
On his birthday today, here’s a look at the some of his best works.
Though Rajamouli has been around since 2001, a glance at his filmography will reveal that he isn’t really as prolific a director as many of his peers. However, his films are generally discussed long past their release and that’s what makes him special. By his own admission, Rajamouli is a man obsessed with Indian mythology. Add to that he fixation with technology and what you have is a great scope for fantasy. Now, Eega didn’t really fit into the mythology mould, but at its heart was the concept of reincarnation. The story follows the life of a young man who is brutally killed by his boss, as both the men are in love with the same girl. The young man dies but his soul takes another form, that of a housefly and takes revenge. How this fly goes about doing so forms the crux of the plot. Engagingly told, with enough melodrama and song and dance to keep the masses glued, the film was a winner at the box office. According to Wikipedia, its collective earnings stood at Rs 1.25-1.3 billion (approximately Rs 100 crores), having been made at a budget of roughly Rs 30-40 crore.
With reincarnation as its theme, Magadheera was yet another fantasy drama. The story revolved around a warrior in charge of protecting a princess, a princess in love with her bodyguard, her cousin who lusts for her and an emperor who wants to conquer the land. In the ensuing drama, all four get killed. The plot moves 400 years, with all the four principle characters being reborn. How the warrior kills the scheming cousin with the help of the now-reformed emperor and wins the affection of the princess forms the rest of the story. Starring Ram Charan, Kajal Aggarwal, Dev Gill and Srihari, the plot moved back and forth as the characters come alive onscreen.
Star-crossed lovers, revenge drama and scheming siblings aren’t new but the film’s production values (cinematography, art direction, costumes, action, scale) were not something that the Indian viewer had been used to. It’s here that Rajamouli bowled them over. Also, here was Telugu film with a section of its plot set in the desert of Rajasthan. Rajamouli was not willing to let his imagination be reigned in by linguistic boundaries.
Rajamouli has a fascination for fantasy, but he has also made several social dramas -- Maryada Ramanna being one of them. Many of his films get remade in several Indian languages such as this one which was remade in Tamil (Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham), Malayalam (Ivan Maryadaraman), Bengali and Hindi (Son of Sardaar). The film is itself inspired by Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality (1923) of the silent era. This is the story of a young man who heads for his village where has chanced upon a fortune (by way of land) and he intends to sell it off. Enroute, he meets a lady and falls in love. Turns out, his family has a past -- many years back, his father killed his lady love’s uncle and now they want revenge. However, he takes advantage of a tradition of their house that not one drop of blood should fall inside the house. How he manages to challenge his fate forms the rest of the story.
Known to Hindi film audience as Rowdy Rathore, starring Akshay Kumar in a double role, the original was directed by Rajamouli and starred Ravi Teja and Anushka Shetty. A story of double roles, one small-time thief and another cop, a murderous village head and his rapist son, the film’s plot was ripe for a blockbuster, the way Indians like it.
The film was remade in many Indian languages -- Siruthai (Tamil) Veera Madakari (Kannada), Rowdy Rathore (Hindi), Bikram Singha: The Lion Is Back (Bengali). Apart from these, it was made twice in Bangladesh as Ulta Palta 69 and Action Jasmine respectively.
Prabhas and SS Rajamouli have worked in a number of films together, Chhatrapati being one of the earliest. An action drama that takes place in India and Srilanka (well, Prabhas is a refugee from the island nation), Prabhas plays an aggressive guy who fights for the rights of the refugees, earning him the sobriquet Chhatrapati. This film set the template for films like Mirchi for Prabhas. It also marked the beginning of a very fruitful professional relationship between the two.
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First Published: Oct 10, 2017 16:02 IST