A fly taking revenge? Ace director S. S. Rajamouli talks about how this idea took shape in his recently released film Naan Ee
Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come and standing testimony to this is S. S. Rajamouli’s Naan Ee, which has just hit the screens. Says the ace director, who has delivered several blockbusters in Telugu including Magadheera, Sye, Vikramarkudu and Yamadonga, “The story of Naan Ee was based on an idea bounced off by my father Vijayendra Prasad who has penned the stories of almost all my films. The idea of a fly taking revenge on a human occurred to my dad almost 15 years ago. At that time, I was an assistant director and could not even think of making it into a film. Although we laughed at it then, it was always there at the back of my mind. After Magadheera’s phenomenal success, I realised I could narrate any story interestingly, making use of advanced technology. It was then that the story started taking shape.”
Willingness to experiment
Not one to be scared of risks, Rajamouli’s willingness to experiment has paid him rich dividends all along. He says, “I thought I would go in for a very small budget for this project, the logic behind it being even if no one liked the film, those associated with it financially wouldn’t suffer a big blow. I tried to keep the cost to a minimum. But when I couldn’t, the producers asked me to forget about the budget and complete the story. Once I completed the story, I was thrilled and so were the producers. Then, we worked out the budget which turned out to be huge. But we decided to go ahead with it.”
The budget was rumoured to be a whopping Rs. 100 crore. Shrugging it off, Rajamouli says the cost of both the films is anywhere between Rs. 30 crore and Rs. 35 crore. “The film, a bilingual, was made in Tamil and Telugu simultaneously. It has been dubbed into Malayalam,” he discloses.
Does he mean to say Rs. 35 crore is not too big a risk?
Says Rajamouli: “We need to understand that the business of filmmaking itself is risky. From the beginning, the success percentage has been only 15 per cent. Just because we opt for a time-tested formula, it doesn’t mean we are going to succeed. I looked at it like this — ‘Well, there is a risk either way. At least, I am making a film I liked.’”
The director is known to have given all the actors who have worked on his projects their big break. How did he decide on the cast of this film?
Says Rajamouli: “Generally, I choose my hero and then script a story suitable for him. This is the first time I looked for someone to fit the storyline. All the three choices were straightforward. Nani was the first to be selected. I had seen him earlier and was certain he was ideal to play the protagonist. Samantha came in next and the film’s producer from Bellary suggested Kannada star Sudeep for the role of the antagonist. I’ve seen his work but wondered if he would agree to play the antagonist. Sudeep’s character in the film has to be treacherous at times and comical at others. It was a challenge and Sudeep, like any good actor, readily agreed.”
The director, who is to next work with Prabhas, has good news for his Tamil fans. “Naan Ee is my first Tamil film. The markets have become so big that I am planning to make most of my films bilingual.”