Ever since ‘Eega’ released on July 6th, the movie has been a source of pride for the Telugu Film Industry and the captain of the project, S.S.Rajamouli, has been the toast of the town. We caught up with the talented, soft spoken and very down to earth director for an exclusive chitchat. Rajamouli spoke candidly about the challenges faced while filming Eega, his future projects, and even about ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. We came away impressed with his jovial attitude and his humble nature. Here is the transcript of that session for you folks.
Q. Congratulations for the super success of Eega. How does it feel to be the toast of the town?
Ans : (Smiles). I am enjoying the success and it feels great. I have received calls from practically everyone in the industry and the most memorable call perhaps is from Rajinikanth garu.
Q. Eega 2 in the pipeline?
Ans : Well, at this point of time, I can’t say. I have a project with Prabhas lined up and we are working on the subject. Getting the story right is very important if we are to make a sequel. Expectations on Eega 2 will be sky high if we do decide to make it, but the upside is a strong brand value to it. Like I said, let us wait and see.
Q. Will Prabhas’s movie be a film on the Kakateeya dynasty?
Ans : I have not finalized the subject for Prabhas yet. A couple of different lines are being worked on and we will take a call soon. But basically, I do want to make a film on our Kings with Prabhas. There are so many captivating stories regarding our Kings, with great emotional upheavals. I would like to showcase such stories in a new way.
Q. When you conceived Eega, were you worried about whether the audience will find the concept believable?
Ans : All those worries were worked upon during the scripting stage. We took great care to come up with an engaging screenplay and we worked upon multiple scenarios for many sequences. For example, take the Eega’s final killing sequence of Sudeep. We considered multiple ways of killing the villain before settling on the one shown in the film. Once the scripting was finalized, I went ahead with conviction. If you make sure you deliver an engaging narration and draw the viewers into your film, your job is done.
Q. You started off the film by setting up the whole story as a fairy tale narrated by a father to a daughter. Was that a ploy to avoid questions of ‘logic’?
Ans : (Smiles). You can say that. Fairy tales have many wonderful and impossible things going on in them and we wanted viewers to have good fun while watching the film. Once the story is a fairy tale, anything is possible.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect encountered while making Eega?
Ans. Animation was a tough nut to crack. We learnt a lot of things while working on the job. Conveying the Eega’s emotions in a believable way was also quite challenging. A great deal of this responsibility was taken up by Keeravani garu. His background score was the lifeblood for many sequences and his music made sure that the Eega’s emotions got across to the viewers perfectly. A special effort from Sudeep and Samantha also helped a lot.
Q. Speaking of Sudeep and Samantha, how hard was it to get the right performances from them?
Ans : Sudeep and Samantha had to improvise,act and emote in front of the camera, imagining an Eega. They had no reference point to fall back on while filming. The Eega was added later in post production so you can imagine how difficult it would have been for them to get those emotions out, relying purely on their imagination.
Q. What was your expectation from Eega at the Box Office? Did you imagine this kind of reception?
Ans. No. I was only expecting a decent response from the Box Office, perhaps 10 – 15% more than what Maryada Ramanna did. That is what I told my producer Sai too while filming. But we were just bowled away by this reception. Media has been surprisingly and unanimously supportive of the film and that has helped extend the movie’s reach.
Q. Many feel that the film’s collections would have been even better if it released in summer. Any regrets over the delay?
Ans : (Shrugs) Perfect timing would perhaps add about 10% to a movie’s collections. It will not make a hit film a flop or vice versa. But yes, a summer release would have been good.
Q. When will you get back to work?
Ans : Perhaps in a month or two. I will take a vacation soon with my family and then begin work on my future projects.
Q. Did you watch any films recently?
Ans : I saw ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. The film is good, but I was a tad disappointed. I expected more from Christopher Nolan, especially regarding the climax sequence. We have seen too many movies where the hero saves the city from an impending time bomb. When Christopher Nolan is at the helm, we expect something more sophisticated and unique. But otherwise, its a good film.
Q. Now that you have evolved as a filmmaker, will you ever attempt mass films once again?
Ans : I will make films with good stories and engaging scripts. I cannot say about the kind of films I will make in future, but one thing is for sure – my future films will not have sleaze or vulgarity in them.
Q. Your entire family took part in the production of Eega. Exhausted or exhilarated?
Ans : They are both exhausted and exhilarated. Which is why the impending family vacation is a must. My family is my bedrock of support and they provide the anchor I need while I go about my work.
Q. Eega’s Hindi plans?
Ans : We have not made up our mind over whether to release Eega in 2D or 3D in Hindi. If its 3D, it will probably come at the end of the year. But if it is 2D, it will release in Hindi in a month or so.
Q. What are your future projects, apart from Prabhas’s film?
Ans : (Smiles) As of now, nothing is finalized. I have commitments lined up with Shobhu Yarlagadda, K.L.Narayana and Danayya. Only Prabhas’s name is finalized for one of the projects. The other two projects are still open. Once a proper script is ready, we will take a call.
With that,we winded up the conversation as Rajamouli was getting ready to attend to some other activities. So there is Rajamouli for you folks. Humble and Honest. Any wonder his films are so successful? Let us wish him the very best for his future projects.
Interviewed by Mahesh S Koneru
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