Hours before the world gets to know ‘Why Kattappa killed Baahubali’, director SS Rajamouli is confident that he has given a ‘more than satisfactory’ answer to it in the film. He prefers not to talk on behalf of the audience if they would be convinced by it, but is sure that he has presented the best of his storytelling abilities in Baahubali-2 . “This suspense element isn’t the film’s USP, most of them will know it after the first show. The film thrives on drama here, this time, there’s more humour too,” the only filmmaker with a 100% success rate in Telugu cinema tells us.
His biggest takeaway from the project was his efficient usage of manpower and time management. “What I and Shobu Yarlgadda (producer) had worked out better this time was the planning. Initially, it was like the sequence in Lagaan where everyone in the team were chasing the same ball. Now, I understand the time I need to devote to each department to bring the best output.” This is evident in the way they planned their visual effects work, especially, where they’d wrapped up portions that needed extensive CG by October and wrapped other parts in the following months. “On the whole, we were able to dedicate five and half months only for the visuals,” he talks.
Most satisfying film
The director reveals that Baahubali -2 was the most satisfying film in his career without an iota of doubt. “My previous films had fewer characters and most of them were hero-centric projects. For the first time in my career, I had about seven strong characters and there’s a heroic establishment to each of them. Even if you wake me up in the middle of the night and ask how Sivagami would react to a particular situation, I’ll be firm in what I answer. No director can ever deliver what’s on his or her mind totally, but Baahubali-2 is the closest I can get in executing what I had envisaged onto the celluloid.”
The five-year filmmaking span was something he too wasn’t prepared for, but once he immersed himself in it, he didn’t want anything but the best. “Our original idea was to finish the shoot of both parts at once and release the second part in about four months time, after July 2015. The budget by then had shot up and the first part had to release, so all the marketing strategies that people are applauding us for, were mostly spontaneous decisions.”
While Baahubali is a benchmark for fantasy films now, Mayabazar remains Rajamouli’s favourite film in the genre. “ Mayabazar was the film I immensely loved as a kid. Only when I became a filmmaker about 20 years later, did I realise it’s technical marvel and what a great epic it was. I and my visual effects supervisor while making Yamadonga took two days to understand the magnification shot of Ghatothkatcha’s persona. The first song in the film Vardhillu maa talli is only a three-minute song in the film, but the song establishes all the characters, their equations, that is tremendous saving of screen time. My respect for K V Reddy has only grown further with time.”
World of Baahubali
Baahubali was built as a franchise with a range of products emerging out of it, from the book, the digital comic to the mobile game, but they still knew that their primary goal was to make the film more than anything else. “We didn’t want to make the merchandise and the branding, ancillary to the film. Shobu was waiting for a long time to ensure quality standalone products out of the franchise, that’s one reason we didn’t work on it while the first part released. All the time I took to explain to firms dealing with the ‘World of Baahubali’ was to give them the right framework within which they can operate.”
Rajamouli maintains that it’s team’s synergy that kept him passionate along this marathon journey. “Prabhas was like an energy tonic who kept pushing me further. If you are running alone, you run for 10 kms, if we have someone with similar energy levels with you, you can run for 35 kms. Our technicians too were masters of their own arts. Without my family I’m nothing, they kept me in the right place, I believe that I’m the luckiest person in the country when I’m with them.”
Whenever anyone speculates about his next project after the Baahubali series, he keeps joking that it’s a family entertainer titled ‘Holiday in Bhutan’. “Frankly, I have not yet decided what I would do next. It was only during Magadheera that I planned to do a project of a smaller scale next. I keep my options open about my next story, there will always be those vague discussions at home. My dream of being a good director has already materalised, the next big dream will be to make the Mahabharatha, but I don’t think I have the energy and the skill-set to make it in the next 10 years,” he admits.