In conversation with S.S. Rajamouli, the phenomenal and yet, unassuming director of the two-part epic movie, Baahubali, which captured the imagination of cinema-goers in India and abroad:
Now that Baahubali has become a part of our movie mythology, are you itching to get back to filmmaking?
Not at all. I am just happy to be doing nothing for the past six months. There’s no anxiety to get back to filmmaking as I know that I can start as soon as I am ready to get back to work. Right now, I am enjoying the process of having a normal life, spending time with my wife and daughter, and catching up with friends and relatives whom I haven’t met for years.
But did you really think those Chandamama or Amar Chitra Katha tales would work in this day and age?
To this day, I believe that the stories that our grandmothers told us were the most interesting. Why do we still cherish those stories? Because they were innocent and heartfelt, not embellished with artifice. In ancient times, when soldiers returned from the battlefront, they sat around the fire quietly until one of them began telling a story. Then suddenly, all the fatigue and trauma of the battle would be forgotten. Even today, people go to the cinema to forget the battles of everyday life and just have fun.
Then why are so many films flopping — because they are unable to provide fun? Or because the ticket prices are too prohibitive?
Ticket prices are a different discussion altogether. And I wouldn’t like to comment on what kind of films are not working. But a lot of films that are working are very interesting. With so many alternatives to the movie theatre experience, you have to make it worth the audiences’ while.
Would you be working with Prabhas anytime soon?
No! Prabhas and I have been together for five years. We need a break from each other! Prabhas is busy with his other commitments and I’ve my own commitments. We will of course, work together again in the future.
What about your plans of making the Mahabharat?
Right now, it is like thousands of fireflies are floating in my mind. It will be some time before those ideas concretise. I am in no hurry to do the Mahabharat.
Aamir Khan is reportedly doing his own version of the Mahabharat.
I heard about that. But the Mahabharat is open to so many interpretations. It really doesn’t matter how many times we visit it.
What do you think of Prabhas doing Saaho after Baahubali?
No other actor is as intelligent as Prabhas. What I really like about him is his maturity and sensible self-assessment. He knows exactly what he is worth, no more, no less. He neither overestimates nor underestimates himself. When he got into Baahubali, he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the impact the film would have and the influence his character and performance would exercise. He surrendered himself completely to Baahubali, as he has surrendered himself to Saaho now.
Do you meet Prabhas and the rest of the Baahubali team?
We’ve all moved on but of course, we connect. Everyone had other commitments waiting for them.
Finally, are you moving into a new home now?
No, not at all. I am very happy in my two-bedroom flat which has been home for years. It has enough space for the three of us.
Even for the Baahubali director?
Especially for him (laughs).