I have seen such people whose mind revolves around cinema all the time. In fact, he always thinks about cinema only. Something similar I saw in Rajamouli who does not think about anything other than cinema. Rajamouli’s thinking is completely different from what we usually see in normal people. He wants to make even the unbelievable things absolutely believable. This is the biggest challenge before them. He actually succeeds in presenting a larger than life image of the hero. Whatever he plans in mind, an art director has to make it more believable. Whatever he does, the result should be accurate. If it doesn’t sound true then the story won’t make an impact and their vision won’t materialize completely. Be it lifting a Shivling or throwing a motorcycle, we have to do everything in such a way that everything looks believable as well as real. Apart from this, I find him a very hardworking person. He goes into great detail about everything and even body language: whether the artist is comfortable or not, he pays attention. He personally checks in detail with great care whether the way the sword is held by the artist is correct or not. I think the universe also starts giving better results with them to reach the level of perfection they want. For a professional like me, it is most important to make the fictional world believable. I am actually quite happy that now I am a part of his films and they are not only appreciated by the audience. Steven Spielberg and James Cameron also talked to him about working with him. This is a big deal. I am very proud to be a part of such a big scale film. When I was called for Bahubali, our relationship was just like two professionals. I feel everything just became like a family as soon as I started working with him. Like a whole family is involved in film making. There are occasional meetings and we also party together. Although, he does not party much but it seems that he is there all the time. Everything feels like home with them. I chose Hyderabad to live with his family. It is his specialty that the ease with which he mixes with people. In such a situation, no matter how hard we work, we do not feel that we are working hard. They know very well how to extract the desired thing from others. Others don’t even know about it. I think others including me also do not feel like a burden to work with him. Everyone enjoys the process. Actually, he himself called me for this film. He told me that I need you for the action film I am doing – something different for RRR. I asked him why me for action films? "I want you to do the work of setting up the rigs in such a way that the effect is better. You have already done this for me in Baahubali, haven’t you? I know what you can do for me. He constantly challenges me in a way that helps me cross the hurdle. I can say that they have more faith in my talent and contribution than I have in myself. The director gets up at 4:30 in the morning, his association with any project is most important. He goes into great detail and thinks about his project from every angle. Earlier he used to take some time but now he has become very experienced. Even the shots he takes are now completed in less time. Let me tell you about his professionalism that I do not know when he completes his sleep. I was told that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning. That’s why I always try to be present on the sets before they come. However, most of the time he is already there before me. As a professional he treats everyone in the same manner as that person needs to be treated. I think he has the ability to get the best out of someone whether he is a choreographer or an action master. Rajamouli himself does horse riding before action. If you ask me about his professionalism, then I would say that before instructing a hero about horse riding, he himself learns horse riding so that he can tell the actor what to do. He first tries his hand himself and then asks the hero to do the same. I have not seen others doing this. Whether it is horse riding or using bow and arrow or anything else, he first tries his hand and shows it to the hero so that he cannot say that it cannot be done. I personally cannot forget an incident of my birthday during the shooting of Bahubali. He released the making video during that time and wished me a happy birthday. He couldn’t even do that for me. He does this for everyone on his birthday, whether he is an artist or someone else. I felt very honored for which I should really thank him. The work he did during Baahubali raised him a lot in my eyes. The way he treats other people including the technicians with respect, he automatically brings out their best from them. I think this is one quality that we cannot forget throughout our life. SS Rajamouli is a true professional, he gave me the big challenge of setting up the rigs in RRR. I did this. However, I never thought that I would be asked to do the same. But they made me do it and I came up with a very interesting design which worked for us. Having been associated with him for more than eight years, I can say that he is a true professional. The position he has achieved has not been achieved by mistake. He has worked hard and is working hard day by day. Generally I have seen that people who achieve something start to relax. This is normal human behaviour. But he sets a new height for himself every time. Rajamouli is excellent in visualization Rajamouli is excellent in terms of visualization. The first time I met him, he showed me a picture of a thousand feet waterfall. Seeing him, I came to know the scale of the film. He assimilates well whatever he wants to do. Before landing on the ground, he does a complete rehearsal through a concept artist. Then he tells other people to achieve the same level. Another good thing with him is that he understands the cutting edge technology like CGI very well. As far as possible, he inspires others to learn these techniques as well. When we have our first meeting regarding a film, he describes the whole scene and explains his whole imagination related to it. He invites suggestions from everyone whether it is me, DOP or any other department member, even his son. During this all the members are present there. Most of the time during the discussion I have seen that everyone’s suggestions are in their mind. He thinks about those suggestions again and again. If I also give him a suggestion, then after two-three days he appears with the same suggestion on a bigger canvas. Rajamouli does not back down from hard work Rajamouli knows how to make the best out of a small thing. He knows very well how any scene can give the best experience to the cinema audience. This is their ultimate goal. I think a big reason for his success is his involvement with authenticity and his subtlety in filmmaking. He does not shy away from hard work and works with full dedication. It’s almost like meditating. I think it is a process that goes on inside him like meditation. In such a situation, the universe automatically comes forward to help them. His personality is also like this completely rooted in cinema. I think this is the best word for him. Success has to kiss his feet because of the depth with which he has worked on everything. I think the film is like a prayer for him which he actually does during the making of the film. What is the surname of Rajamouli? There is also a surname of Rajamouli Sir. Actually, while working for Bahubali, Junior NTR used to call him Jakna. I asked him why everyone was calling him Jakkana. In fact, till Prabhas used to call him Jakkana. Then he explained to me that there used to be a sculptor named Jakna. He is like a sculptor: it is his job to carve and shape his work of art. So they take some more time to complete it without error. People used to wait for him in those days. That’s why they call him Jakkanna, because he is an artist who sculpts the idol with perfection from every angle. ‘My association with Rajamouli has been a wonderful journey’ My association with Rajamouli in RRR and Baahubali has been a wonderful journey which I cannot forget in my entire career. The films did well. The work he got me done, the challenges he put in front of me, my name has also reached the audience. It has also helped me become who I am today. I hope that we will work on many more films together in the future and I will get to learn a lot more from him. The author is a well-known Art Director and Production Designer. He has worked together with SS Rajamouli on many projects including RRR.
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