Days before the release of Baahubali 2, SS Rajamouli, the man behind the epic saga which is also one of the most celebrated film franchises in recent times, opens up about what to expect in the sequel.
Q: At last, the moment we've all been waiting for is finally here. What are your most immediate thoughts on the release of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion?
SS Rajamouli: I can't think of anything till the point of release. At present, we are still working on getting all the VFX shots, putting everything properly and sending them out for mastering and printing. So at this point of time, I can only think of 2 days ahead, not beyond that.
Q: When Baahubali: The Beginning had released a year and a half ago the audiences' expectations were far less than it is today. How do you see the mammoth responsibility that weighs on your head due to people's expectations?
SS Rajamouli: People's expectations are not at all a weight. In fact, they give us lot of energy to do our work in much better way.
Q: Baahubali: The Beginning eventually turned out to be the most successful Indian film of all times. To what do you attribute its staggering appeal and success?
SS Rajamouli: It is very difficult to attribute the success for one single thing. I think it is the super strong characterizations and the drama among them which was told on a larger scale. On one side, we had the emotions, and on the other side we had the scale, so combined, I think it that is the most appealing thing of Baahubali.
Q: The characters of Baahubali are now a part of every Indian moviegoers' cultural narrative. When they were being written did you find the characters as magnetic as they eventually turned out to be?
SS Rajamouli: Yes, the magnetism of the characters attracted me like never before. They had an electrifying effect on me. In fact, when the characters were narrated to me by father (writer Vijayendra Prasad), my whole driving point was that, whatever feeling I had about the characters, my audience should also feel the same way.
Q: You've made many outstanding films before Baahubali and you will most certainly make more after. But Baahubali has become your signature film, the way Ramesh Sippy is identified with Sholay or K Asif with Mughal-e-Azam. How do you look at that kind of indelible association between you and one film?
SS Rajamouli: Yes, it always feels great to be associated with a film that has impacted audiences. At present, I know my name will be associated with Baahubali, which will make me feel happy. I don't know by the end of my career which film my name will be associated with. So, at present, I am very happy to be a part of Baahubali.
Q: Coming to Baahubali 2, you've devoted, no that's a mild word, you've dedicated your life to creating the second part of the film. As its creator how do you compare the second part with the first?
SS Rajamouli: In the first part, we have introduced the characters, we just showed the audience the taste of what's going to come next, all the high emotional drama between the super strong characters will happen in the second film. So, that's the difference between both of them.
Q: What should the audience expect this time. Do you see the two films competing with one another or do you visualise them as being complementary to each other?
SS Rajamouli: I don’t need to tell the audience what to expect at this point of time. They have been waiting for the past two years. They have a certain picture painted in their mind as to how Baahubali 2 is going to be. So, I think we are going to meet their expectations.
And this is not a sequel where one film is different and second film is different. It is one single story told in 2 different films. Definitely, one film is complementary to the second one, it's not competition.
Q: Why did Kattapa kill Baahubali? This is the question that has now become a national obsession, a part of the Indian psyche's unfulfilled folklore. How do you respond to that question when it is thrown at you by all and sundry?
SS Rajamouli: So when people ask me - why did Kattappa kill Baahubali, it is just a way of fondly telling a - Hi, how are you, we have seen Baahubali and we have liked it very much and eagerly waiting to see why Kattappa killed Baahubali.
So, instead of talking so much, they just ask - why Kattappa killed Baahubali. So, we always feel very happy about it because every time people keep asking that question, we have a guaranteed ticket on the first day first show for part 2.
Q: Prabhas too has surrendered completely to Baahubali , just like you have. In retrospect how would you evaluate his contribution to your vision?
SS Rajamouli: I’ve said this many times that I couldn't have made Baahubali without Prabhas' dedication. He has dedicated his 3 and half years dates to Baahubali. And it's not just giving dates and giving time, it is about giving your heart for the film. Since the beginning of the film, he always used to say that, we are not just making a regional film, we are not just making a national film, we are making an international film. The standards are so high, the characters are so great, the story is so gripping. So he continuously used to say that and that gives the whole unit a lot of energy.
Q: How much of a growth do you see in Prabhas’ performance since the first part?
SS Rajamouli: In the first part, like I said, we have just introduced the characters. Let it be Sivudu or Amarendra Baahubali, the emotions weren't shown in part 1. In part 2 you will be seeing more stronger emotions and varied colours of emotions played by Prabhas.
And the strongest of emotions will be played in a subtle manner by Amarendra Baahubali, and which I think will also be the one of the biggest highlights of Baahubali 2 - The Conclusion.
Q: The last five years of your life have been consumed by the Baahubali saga. Do you now long to take a break. Do you intend to take holiday with your wife and daughter?
SS Rajamouli: Of course, we have been planning to take a holiday for a very long time. It will be a very long holiday.