I make big-scale movies driven by emotions: Rajamouli
SS Rajamouli, whose RRR has shattered all records by crossing the ₹1,000 crore mark, advised filmmakers to study the several innovative ways in which young people connect with social media and leverage these sources to market films.
Participating in a candid discussion at a media and entertainment seminar organised by the CII in Chennai on Saturday, Rajamouli was sharing marketing strategies he deploys for his blockbusters. The Federal is the media partner of the CII Dakshin South India Media & Entertainment Summit, being held in Chennai on April 9 and 10.
“Young people are creating different unimaginable ways on social media to connect to a wide range of people and we need to tap into those connections to market our films,” he said, adding that films need to look for new marketing platforms rather than street billboards or print media. It also helped that for Baahubali 1 and 2, he had tied up with Karan Johar who took over the marketing of the films.
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Replying to a question, Rajamouli, who is basking in the success of RRR, admitted that it was sad that print was fading but one had to accept change. The director known to create magic on the big screen with his stunning visuals pointed out, “We need to go along with change or be swept aside.” He added that he was terrified that one day cinema may not be relevant as well.
Rajamouli urged filmmakers not to think of making a pan-Indian films or think of marketing ploys while writing the film.
“Art should be kept separate from commerce if you want your film to travel,” he said. “It is not enough to bring in a north actor into your film to make it pan-Indian, you should just go about creating your film. Art should lead the commerce, not the other way around. You need to be conscious that every minute costs money on the sets but commerce should be an external factor. Moreover, big budget films don’t automatically become pan-Indian films,” said Rajamouli, pointing out that one of the first pan-Indian films made was Mani Ratnam’s Roja.
Rajamouli also said he regretted not having worked as an assistant director for a longer time since when he started to direct he found he never knew how to use the crane. “It may be good for aspiring filmmakers to work longer on film sets to understand production, scheduling, planning, etc, and learn the craft of filmmaking rather than attend university,” he said.
Rajamouli confessed that he was keen to work on an OTT film because he wants to stay relevant and wants more people to watch his work. But he admitted that he is still trying to understand the impact of OTT and is studying the medium.
“If I don’t do OTT, I will be pushed aside,” he said with a wry laugh. However, he spoke emotionally about how he has been hard-wired to make films for the big screen.
Sharing his process of filmmaking, Rajamouli said that while he locks the script before he starts shooting he holds the key to the script he unlocks and changes it when he wants to. “I am open to changing my script on the sets,” he said, adding that his films, which have larger than life stories, have “action scenes with emotion driving them”.
“When humans are under the grip of emotion, they tend to behave in a superhuman way and are pushed to do anything and that is what I tap,” he said, describing his films as being “big scale action movies driven by hard-core emotion”.
On art films being able to reach a wider audience, Rajamouli said there were no action sequence in Roja but people were able to connect with the audience. Similarly, he gave the example of Shankarabharam, which was a superhit around the country. “It had an old man as a hero, a sex worker’s daughter as a heroine and people loved the classical music in the film. It was a huge hit, and while the film was dubbed in Tamil the songs were still in Telugu,” said Rajamouli.
South Indian films are no longer limited to their region, he said. “When Baahubali and KGF became successful nationwide, people said it was because they were big budget films,” said Rajamouli. “But when Pushpa, a commercial potboiler, became a hit, the industry realised that south films were making a mark.
“Now, with RRR many westerners too are reacting to the film, which shows that we can tomorrow make culturally rooted, creatively made films that can reach a broader audience.”
The Hyderabad-based Rajamouli received his biggest compliment when Mani Ratnam, who was also participating in the seminar, said Rajamouli motivated him to make his upcoming film, Ponniyan Selvan. Ratnam said: “When I saw Baahubali and realised how you can tell a story in two parts and keep the audience clued, it opened up possibilities for me too.”