The moment everyone has been waiting for is finally here — Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, will hit the screens on April 28. When Baahubali: The Beginning, released a year-and-a-half ago, the audiences’ expectations were far less than it is today. But director S.S. Rajamouli is unfazed and doesn’t feel any pressure weighing on his shoulders.
“People’s expectations give us a lot of energy to do our work in a much better way,” he says rather coolly. After the release, he plans to take a “long holiday with his wife and daughter.”
Q. What are the immediate thoughts in your mind as the D-date approaches?
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, I can only think of two days ahead, not beyond that.
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?
It’s very difficult to attribute the success to one single thing. I think it is the super strong characterisations and the drama among them which was told on a large scale.
The magnetism of the characters had an electrifying effect on me. In fact, when the characters were narrated to me by my 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 association between you and one film?
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 makes me 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. You’ve dedicated your life to create the second part of the film. As its creator, how do you compare the second part with the first?
In the first part, we introduced the characters and showed the audience the taste of what’s going to come next. The high emotional drama between the characters will happen in the second film.
Q. What should the audience expect this time? Do you see the two films as being competition for one another or do you visualise them as being complementary?
The audience has been waiting for two years. They have a certain picture painted in their mind as to how Baahubali 2 is going to be. We are going to meet their expectations. And this is not a sequel where one film is different from the second film. It is one single story told in two different films. Definitely, the first film is a complement to the second one and it’s not a competition.
Q. Why did Kattapa kill Baahubali? This is the question that has now become a national obsession! How do you respond to that question when it is thrown at you by all?
When people ask me ‘Why Kattappa killed Baahubali’, it is just a way of fondly saying, ‘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 did Kattappa Kill Baahubali?’ We always feel very happy about it because every time people ask 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?
I’ve said this several times, that I couldn’t have made Baahubali without Prabhas’ dedication. He has dedicated his three-and-half-years 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 and the story is so gripping. And that gives the whole unit a lot of energy.
Q. How much of a growth do you see in his performance since the first part?
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 one. In part two, you will be seeing 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, which I think will also be one of the biggest highlights of Baahubali: The Conclusion....