“I have been asked time and again — what factors or traits make a director, a storyteller successful. I stand by my answer — the courage to go with what your heart tells you. I fell in love with Amar Chitra Katha comics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics as a child. The world of larger than life characters, emotions, kings, palaces and armies is something I am comfortable with and I live in this world,” says director SS Rajamouli. He is known for pushing the boundaries of cinema with his concepts and use of technology in films like Magadheera, and Eega which had a housefly as the protagonist!
This time an entire kingdom of Mahishmati — from the architecture to the culture to the lives of its residents comes to life in the fantasy film Bahubali. Touted to be the most expensive film ever to be made in the history of Indian cinema, it is the story of two brothers warring for control of an ancient Indian kingdom. Stars like Prabhas, Rana Dagubatti, Tamannaah, Anushka Shetty, Nassar, Satyaraj, Remya Krishnan, Sudeep, etc. appear in prominent roles. Made in Tamil and Telugu, it will also be dubbed in Hindi and Malayalam. The stars flew down to Kochi for a promotional event along with the director, to a rousing welcome.
Based on a fictitious character, the film took a year for preproduction work. Rajamouli says, “When we started off, we knew we had to prepare a lot to give the audience what we conceived in the story. There were the costumes, props, the storyboard, the artwork, etc. which took a year. Apart from all that, the actors had to practice the dialogues, their body language and also undergo weapons’ training, horse riding and sword fighting. There were a lot of mock shoots both in Tamil and Telugu. Though it was hard work, we thoroughly enjoyed it.” Rajamouli adds that the film will be shot in two parts and the cost of this part is around Rs 250 crores.
The actors had to train very hard to play their parts. The lead actor Prabhas who plays two different roles says, “There is rock climbing, sword fighting, martial arts, horse riding, etc. This experience is a once in a life time opportunity. I enjoyed acting in the film, because I play Bahubali, that was certainly strenuous, but the wonderful cast and crew made it enjoyable.”
The tall and brooding, Rana, who plays the antagonist shares, “A Valmiki kind of a director comes to me and says ‘Will you be the Ravan’ and I could not say no! All of us have grown up on the tales of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. I play someone who believes in power and goes all out to get it at any cost. This is why I am not paired with any of the lovely ladies but have a mace in my hand all the time!”
The lovely ladies being referred to are Tamannaah and Anushka. While Tamannaah plays a prominent role in this part, it will be Anushka’s turn in the next. Though the film is a gargantuan one, the screenplay took just two and a half months to complete. Rajamouli avers that, it was the fastest script he has written. Interestingly, his father is the story writer for some characters in Bahubali. Asked about the lavish sets, Rajamouli replies, “The characters were chosen first and each and every visual — be it the palaces or the waterfalls aren’t there for creating effects, but because it was driven by characterisation and the story.”
In response to a query about certain scenes resembling the Hollywood film 300, Rajamouli admits, “Films like 300, Gladiator, Ben Hur, etc. have had a huge impact on me, so an influence would be there, but indirectly. When two armies clash, the camera angles are also bound to be the same.” Bahubali will release on July 10....