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‘Proud to be known as Telugu director’

Published Nov 23, 2014, 4:05 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 12:23 pm IST
Filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli talks about his fascination with the theme of reincarnation
S S Rajamouli
 S S Rajamouli
Your other blockbuster Magadheera is being remade into Hindi? Why don’t you direct it?
No thanks. I’ve already spent two years of my life on it. I’d rather make something else. Magadheera was my toughest film to make. Very tiring. 
Whom have you worked with in Hindi?
I did work with Ajay Devgn and Kajol who did the voiceover in Makkhi. I wanted a couple with easily identifiable voices but with an image for being family-oriented. Ajay agreed when I approached him. But I insisted he see the film first. After seeing the film, he said, ‘I must show this film to my kids.’
Tell us about your new film Baahubali
It is a period film. But not a historical one. It’s a folk story. And no, it’s not about reincarnation. I’m done with reincarnation after Magadheera and Eega.
What’s this fascination with the theme of reincarnation?
It started with Rakesh Roshan’s Karan Arjun. For the first time I openly laughed and wept during a film. Earlier, I was very reserved about my emotions. 
Why have you stayed away from Hindi cinema so far?
To be very frank I never got very good offers from Hindi cinema until Eega. Now I’m flooded with offers. But I’ve some commitments to fulfil in the South before I head to Mumbai to make a film. 
Your films have been remade and dubbed into several Indian languages. Yet you continue to function from Telangana
I am proud to be known as a Telugu filmmaker. I am glad to know my films make a pan-India impact. To make a film in Hindi would be an advantage. But it needs to have a universal story like Makkhi. A fly is a fly anywhere. Vikramarkurdu was made as a ‘star vehicle’ for Ravi Teja. I couldn’t have made it for the entire country. It was tailored for Telugu audiences.
Why didn’t you direct Rowdy Rathore, the Hindi version of your hit Vikramarkudu?
It was never offered! And even if it was, I wouldn’t have done it. I’ll be making an original film in Hindi. No point in doing the same film twice.
What did you think of Rowdy Rathore?
Frankly, I’m not a fan of my original film in Telugu either. I know it had some good moments, for example the sentiments shared between the hero and the little girl who reforms him. The re-makers exploited those moments but not enough. 
The refrain Chin ta ta chi ta ta was lifted from Vikramarkudu and used for Rowdy Rathore
Actually it was not our original tune either. My music composer M.M. Kreem didn’t compose it. It’s like how do I put it? A folk tune in Tamil Nadu. Youngsters compose their own crude protest songs and then cap it with Chinta ta ta. It has existed in Tamil Nadu for generations. I made it a part of Ravi Teja’s character and then it was given to Akshay Kumar.
Do you approve of filmmakers lifting secondary material?
I think there’s a very thin line between copying and adapting. I think it’s okay to use material from earlier films. As long as it doesn’t hurt the original creator we can use it.
Can you give me an example?
In so many films of mine I’ve used scenes and shots inspired by earlier films. My Maryada Ramanna (remade as Son of Sardar) was inspired by a 1923 Buster Keaton silent film Our Hospitality. One could say I copied the film. I don’t mind.
When I saw the original I liked it so much I wanted to re-tell the same story in my own way. I even tried to find the original creators but the original writers died in the 1930s.
Technically any material that has existed for more than 75 years can be used without a copyright claim. But if you use material in a Hindi film from a contemporary Punjabi, Oriya or Telugu film, you need to take permission.