Cinema Telugu film director S.S. Rajamouli talks about his Makkhi taking a successful flight to Bollywood. ANUJ KUMAR
“Now I can tell the world that the Indian film industry has Salman Khan on one side and a Makkhi on the other.” This is what Shekhar Kapur told director S.S. Rajamouli after watching the antics of his precocious fly. After a long time a dubbed film has created buzz at the Bollywood box office, and Rajamouli is elated.
Son of eminent Telugu writer and director S. Vijeyndra Prasad, Rajamouli says the idea of Eega (the title in Telugu) came from his father in the early ‘90s. “He narrated to us this love story where the villain kills the boy and he gets reincarnated as a housefly and torments the bad guy. We found it very funny.” Years later, after making a series of big-budget action blockbusters, when Rajamouli decided to “dabble in something small” the funny story came back to his mind. “Small films are usually romantic films, comedy films or horror films – the three genres I am not comfortable with. I wanted to make an experimental film which would shock the audience in a positive way. At that time the story resurfaced in my mind.”
Rajamouli says that when he started the idea was to make a Rs. three-crore film in five months. “Initially I was hesitant because, come to think of it, the idea was crazy. I thought only a small section of the audience would dare to come to theatres. But when the story was complete we knew we had a winner on our hands. So we went all out. It ended up being a Rs. 30-crore film and was made in two years.” According to reports the film garnered around Rs.130 crore in the Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam versions.
The film’s special effects have been appreciated. Rajamouli maintains that the perception that special effects will take a whole lot of budget is a misconception. “There are ways of working around it. I went for relative newcomers and gave them training. This film would have cost me four to five times more if I had gone to any established studio. I like larger-than-life ideas. I take an impossible situation and then make the audience believe in it. Sudeep is a superstar in Karnataka but I approached him after seeing his performance in Rann . I was not sure whether he would accept a negative role but not only did he accept the role but also made it so nuanced and intense.”
What prevents him from turning his works into Hindi, considering directors like A.R. Murugadoss and Siddiqui have done it? “As a storyteller I want to reach out to as many people as possible but I don’t want to make a remake. I spend almost two years on one subject, and I don’t want to spend another two years on the same subject. However, in my forthcoming films I am looking at the possibility of shooting my films simultaneously in Hindi.”
Rajamouli is all for the change that Hindi cinema has seen in the past couple of years. “The Hindi film industry is offering a complete package. On one hand there is mass masala like Rowdy Rathore and Salman Khan films, and on the other hand you have experimental films like A Wednesday , and there is space for innovative ideas like Vicky Donor as well. These films are commercially successful and catering to different sections of the audience. That is the way an industry should be.” Does the socio-economic profile of the audience coming to theatres influence the kind of films that are being made? “It could be just an argument. It is a chicken-and-egg kind of situation. You can’t deny the fact that there is too much gore in our films and I am myself guilty of it. In the last two to three films I have completely cut down the sleazy part and edited out too much violent portions but, being a director who has gone through this route, I feel we go for these things more out of insecurity rather than the audience wanting it. We feel that youngsters might like it. It is more out of insecurity than anything else, but I gradually realised that we are losing more audiences rather than gaining them. It is just a matter of time when we will be catering to all sections of society,” signs off Rajamouli with the promise that he is working on a big-budget historical.
I take an impossible situation
and then make the audience believe in it.