Celebrated as one of the biggest films of the year, SS Rajamouli’s RRR is all set to release in theatres on January 7. Made at an epic scale, the film stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan, along with Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn and Shriya Saran. While the marquee billing has gone to Taarak and Charan who play Komaram Bheem and Alluri Seetharama Raju, respectively, not much is known about characters played by Alia and Ajay.
Rajamouli, in this interview with indianexpress.com, confirms that the duo has cameos in the film which directly impact the story. The filmmaker, who has made the highly successful Baahubali series among many others in his storied career, also deconstructs a ‘pan-India film’ and what goes into its casting and scripting process.
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us more about Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn’s characters and length of their roles?
A role cannot be based on its length. Both Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn’s roles are very important. If we look at RRR as a body, then Ajay sir’s character in the film is its soul. And we know there are two forces, two powerhouses in the movie, and if there is one person who has to balance them, who has the ability and the strength to contain them, then it is Sita, played by Alia Bhatt.
They are playing cameos in the film, I am not going to cheat the audience about it. In terms of importance, they are equally and sometimes they are more important than the heroes themselves.
Were Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn cast to attract Hindi-speaking audiences to watch RRR?
No, and I am very sure about it. When I made Makkhi or Baahubali, I never looked for actors to be from other languages to fill in some sort of economic conditions. But, it is always about actors fitting the characters convincingly and having personality traits that the characters demand and deserve.
Can you throw some light on why is there a sudden surge in pan-India films?
We make films on a large scale in order to tell the story to a larger audience which includes more states and more languages. As a filmmaker, I am greedy, I want more audiences to listen to my story. I don’t know how it impacts the industry, but it is definitely positive.
What insights can you give about the economics of a pan-Indian film? Does it promote cultural exchange too?
I don’t know much about business. I just want my stories to reach more people. More audiences bring more money but it is not the other way around. More people should watch the film, that’s the ultimate goal.
For example, I have been telling NTR from many years that he has a big market in Telugu (film industry) but he should explore other languages. Even if it doesn’t get him more money, he will win hearts of more people. Leave money aside, winning hearts is everything. Your richness is in how many people want to come to see your film, that is your currency.
With every film, your scale becomes bigger. How does that affect your filmmaking and storytelling? Would you make a small film after this point?
First, I’ll delve the story in the best way possible and then look at how to make it. If it makes sense as a small regional film, then I would make it in that regional language. If it can become big, then I have to make it in such a way. I don’t work any other way.
What made you cast Jr NTR and Ram Charan in RRR?
They fit my characters to the T. For Ram, I wanted an actor who can be calm even if there is a volcano bursting in his heart, that is what essentially Charan is, not just Ram in my film. And for Bhim, I wanted a very strong person who is very innocent at heart, and can’t hide any of his feelings. These are the principle characteristics of them as persons.