Filmmaker SS Rajamouli and actors Jr NTR and Ram Charan discuss their magnum opus ‘RRR’, scheduled to hit screens on January 7, 2022
Post the success of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s initial idea was to make a film free from visual effects and complicated stunt sequences. By his own admission, he wanted to make a quadrangle love story, which he started developing. But when he shared the idea with his wife, she asked him: “Who will watch the film, if you make a love story?”
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Crediting his wife and family for being his “harshest” critics, Rajamouli says he had to shoot the idea down. The filmmaker admits that he has a fascination for bringing two superpowers together ever since childhood. It was the emotional excitement of bringing Telugu superstars Jr NTR and Ram Charan that led to the journey of RRR, a film that has been in the making for close to three years.
In RRR, Rajamouli reunites with his writer-father Vijayendra Prasad and composer MM Keeravani. Set in the pre-Independent India, RRR is a fictional account of two freedom fighters Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (Jr NTR). When Rajamouli was scripting the film along with his father, one of the things he insisted on was to ensure the audience came to the edge of their seats for every 10 minutes.
A secure feeling
Rajamouli, however, maintains that it is the underlying emotion that drives his narratives forward, which in turn drives the spectacle. Has he ever felt the emotion may get lost in the face of visual extravaganza? “If the spectacle is there just for the sake of impressing the audience, then it will fall flat. If you take a song like ‘Naattu Koothu’ [from RRR] which is an enjoyable, foot-tapping number, what drives me even in that song is the emotion,” says Rajamouli, during a recent press interaction in Chennai along with his actors, Jr NTR and Ram Charan.
A still from ‘RRR’
Rajamouli illustrates this point by quoting the example of the national anthem. “I get moved every time jana gana mana gets played. I connect with it on en emotional level. Similarly, if I want to reflect what I feel for the screen, it cannot just be the rendering of the song. Whatever I am experiencing has to be a thousand folds. How do I create the maximum impact is the question. That is how I think I am wired.”
For actors Jr NTR and Ram Charan, both of whom have worked with Rajamouli previously in Student No 1 and Magadheera, RRR was a homecoming in more than one way. Although Jr NTR admitted that both their families have been professional rivals for nearly three decades, he has always been friends with Charan and RRR gave them the opportunity to spend more time together.
Asked if ever there was a sense of insecurity of being outperformed by the other actor, Jr NTR clarified that there was no room for such thoughts. “Let us say Charan gives a great shot today… I will have to live up to what he has done. Rajamouli will not leave until he extracts it from me,” says NTR with a laugh, “We have been chosen and guided by one of the most secure directors. So, there was no insecurity.”
Ram Charan agrees. He says RRR’s script made him feel secure as an actor. “The entire film is just beautifully-placed. It is not like NTR gets a great action scene and I will get one…it was never about those calculations.”