SS Rajamouli is one of the celebrated filmmakers of the Indian film industry. Over the years, SS Rajamouli has directed movies like Magadheera, Yamadonga, Baahubali series, and RRR among others. SS Rajamouli is currently in the news because his directorial film RRR song Naatu Naatu is nominated in the ‘Best Original Song’ at the Oscars 2023. Ahead of Oscars, we look back at times RRR director SS Rajamouli made headlines for his bold statements.
SS Rajamouli’s bold statements
Hrithik is nothing in front of Prabhas: SS Rajamouli once grabbed attention after he compared Hrithik Roshan with Prabhas. In an old video, SS Rajamouli had said ‘Hrithik (Roshan) is nothing in front of Prabhas. At the time, Rajamouli had said, “When Dhoom 2 released two years ago, I wondered why only Bollywood can make such quality films. Don’t we have heroes like Hrithik Roshan? I just saw the songs, poster and trailer of Billa, and I can only say one thing. Hrithik Roshan is nothing in front of Prabhas. I’d like to thank Meher Ramesh (director) for taking Telugu cinema to Hollywood level.”
In January this year, during an interview on the red carpet of the New York Film Critics Choice Awards, SS Rajamouli had reacted to his old comment. The filmmaker said, “It was long, long back… I think some 15-16 years back. But yeah, my choice of words of mine wasn’t good, I must admit it. My intention was never to degrade him. I respect him a lot. It is long back.”
I make films for money: Earlier this year, SS Rajamouli’s RRR made headlines as it did not make the cut at the BAFTA Awards. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Rajamouli said, “I make films for money, I make films for the audiences. I don’t make films for critical acclaim. RRR is a commercial film, and once my film commercially does well, I’m very happy. Awards are an extension to it. It is for the hard work that my unit put in and I’m happy for that.”
RRR is not a Bollywood film: In an interaction with the media after the screening of RRR at the Directors Guild of America, Rajamouli made a big statement while explaining the logic behind using music in his movies. The filmmaker had said, “RRR is not a Bollywood film, it is a Telugu film from the South of India where I come from, but I use the song to move the story forward rather than stopping the film and giving you a piece of music and dance. I just use those elements to move the story forward. If at the end of the film, if you say I didn’t feel it like three hours, then I know I am a successful filmmaker.”
Spat with Sridevi: Sridevi was the first choice for SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali. The late actor was offered the role of Sivagami. However, Sridevi had rejected the offer and Ramya Krishnan came on board. Later, Rajamouli had made some unpleasant statements about her. He had cited her financial expectations as one of the reasons behind rejecting Baahubali. Sridevi had slammed him for the same. In an interview with DNA, she had said, “First of all, I can’t believe he would talk like that. Secondly, I am not the kind to make any kind of demands. Whatever happened with Baahubali is in the past. Why are we talking about it now? There are so many roles that I’ve turned down in the past. I think it’s highly impolite to talk about the films you don’t do.”
Rajamouli later realised his mistake and said that he had a lot of respect for Sridevi. He had said, “I should’nt have discussed the details on a public platform. That’s a mistake. And I regret it.”
Religion is essentially a kind of exploitation: For the uninitiated, Rajamouli identifies himself as an atheist. In an interview with The New Yorker, Rajamouli revealed that there was a time in his life when he believed in Gods. The filmmaker added that his parents including his cousins and aunts are religious. He added that as a kid he had doubts after reading stories about Hindu Gods.
The filmmaker added, “Then I got caught up in my family’s religious fervour. I started reading religious texts, going on pilgrimages, wearing saffron cloth, and living like a sannyasi for a few years. Then I caught onto Christanity, thanks to some friends. I’d read the Bible, go to church, and all kinds of stuff. Gradually, all these things somehow made me feel that religion is essentially a kind of exploitation.” He further added that Ramayana and Mahabharata had a big influence on his films.