Those who know me (or follow me on social media) probably know how much I love S.S. Rajamouli‘s films. I discovered Yamadonga at an impressionable age and became obsessed with the rest of his filmography, particularly Eega and Bahubali: The Conclusion.
But nothing comes close to the incredible spectacle of RRR, arguably one of the most exciting theatrical experiences of the year. To sustain this much attention for three straight hours and topping every single action setpiece is such a rare feat that it’s no wonder that audiences worldwide fell in love with the sheer maximalist spectacle of Rajamouli’s film while also caring for the characters of Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Raju (Ram Charan), as they fight off the British Raj, led by the evil Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson).
What’s most incredible about RRR‘s action setpieces is that, while always focusing on the spectacle and wowing audiences away from a purely visual and kinetic standpoint, you care about the characters on screen, and the stakes always feel massive. I’ve always been fascinated with how Rajamouli shoots and crafts action and wondered how he approaches each setpiece he creates. Is there a particular emphasis on spectacle, character, or do both work together?
During a virtual roundtable discussion with Rajamouli and other entertainment journalists, I had a chance to ask that question, and this is what he had to say (with the video clip attached):
“The spectacle comes first. Parallelly, I keep thinking about what kind of emotion the character needs and what emotions should drive this character to perform that spectacle. I strongly believe that if the emotion is not driving the character, the action will fall flat, however spectacular it is. So the spectacle comes first, but immediately the reasons why that spectacle should be seen on the screen immediately follow.”
It’s clear that Rajamouli designs his movies to be experienced on the big screen. If you saw RRR on Netflix, you probably enjoyed it, but not as much as you would’ve if you had seen it on an IMAX screen when it came out or with a sold-out crowd during one of its encoRRRe showings that have been sweeping over the United States. RRR was made for the big screen, and for my follow-up question, I wanted to ask Rajamouli how he envisions his movies, and particularly RRR, to be seen in a cinema and experienced collectively with an audience:
“In the initial stages of the story, a scene or a sequence, and an emotion crops up in my mind, I really get kicked up about it. I’ll be walking up and down, I’ll be envisioning that in my mind. Sometimes, I’ll be laughing, I’ll be crying, I will be standing in front of the mirror, enacting that and feeling really excited about it. I will also envision myself in the theater and envision the audience cheering, clapping, or feeling emotional. That feeling drives me to tell stories or make movies.”
RRR is now available to stream on Netflix in Hindi and on Zee5 in Telugu.
Some quotes were edited for length and clarity.