(This story was originally published on 15 December 2022. It has been republished from The Quint's archives in view of 'Naatu Naatu', a song in RRR, winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.)
Rajamouli is carrying the film torch from India, racing all the way to the top. Well.. almost!
A few good scenes do not suffice to make a good movie, especially when the film is made by a blockbuster director on a pan-Indian scale. I remain an RRR-sceptic but I have full faith in the conquering abilities of its maker whose previous two-part film (Bahubali) is a set of films I've seen multiple times in the movie hall.
Rajamouli is a real-life hero for me and his winning spree right now is akin to a warrior winning territories one after the other. Let's not forget that he is the same filmmaker who broke box-office records with a fly as the protagonist; hence, it's not as huge a surprise as to what he can do with a film like RRR, which has its adrenaline-thumping macho double heroes and the current heartthrob Alia Bhatt, whose lip sync for the Telugu lines was one of the key aspects of the film I admired.
With its run for the highest film honours in the world, RRR has vanquished all "critical scepticism" (mine included) that emerged earlier from the Indian audience.
Rajamouli is conquering the global film arena with a single film and single-minded zeal.
A Quick Rewind
RRR and Rajamouli have risen to the top of the world cinema pyramid beating some of the best names in the business to garner major honours already and it's no wonder that the Telugu film community first and then the South film fraternity second and then the Indian film Industry third – are all waiting with bated breath to watch his Oscar win(s).
A tiny rewind into cinematic history and the mainstream films and names who have won global recognition, we can think of, are Aamir Khan with Lagaan (nominated in the Best Foreign Film category) and AR Rahman with his twin Oscars (and Grammys) for 'Jai Ho.' The former is the first global door THAT opened for commercial Indian filmmakers while the latter brought the Academy (and other) Awards home.
Rahman & the Oscars
Now, Rahman has given (and keeps giving) highly superior, profound music and background scores before and after Slumdog Millionaire but 'Jai Ho' (based on his Tamil song 'Yella pugazhum oruvan oruvanukkey' from the Vijay-starrer Azhagiya Thamizh Magan) only went onto win big.
It was a tremendous moment to see him on the Oscar stage – it opened the second door that gave truly high hopes to film talents across India and Asia. It was a moment that converted the Indian film industry to a powerhouse, one that will get cemented when Rajamouli wins with RRR, which is trailblazing its way to the many podiums already. The several nominations and the awards so far are a HUGE harbinger of the changing times for Indian cinema in more ways than one.
The times we lived in when AR Rahman was nominated for his music across the globe were a trifle more silent than now. Hence, before anyone could even fathom the enormity of even an Academy nomination, he went on and won two of those golden men and then the Grammys as well! But it was for a film that was not produced in India and which wasn’t made by an Indian filmmaker. And this is where RRR stands in a league of its own now.
Even though both Lagaan and RRR speak of pre-Independence India, RRR’s brand of cinema is one that is loaded with entertainment as its core cinematic trope.
It's a template Telugu film that speaks of victory after a struggle and the political analogies or ideologies apart, it's also a film in which the director is its prime hero. And that is its winning legacy.
The Rajamouli Way
Rajamouli had one ticket to play his hand at global recognition and he went after it with dogged determination to win all the accolades there can ever be! His deep-rooted conviction in his narrative made him push his film to greater heights and here he is, all set to turn back and bask in the spotlight. It takes guts to stick to just one film for more than four or five years. And Rajamouli has done it twice now, with Bahubali first and then with RRR, and his perseverance has seen him deliver back-to-back hits.
In fact, he has climbed the steps of his own film pyramid and reached on top. One can see his rise as a filmmaker and entertainer when you compare his first film Student No. 1 to the next one and the next one until you reach RRR. The path is only uphill and he has climbed it with calculated ease, individualistic style and good equipoise. Today, when Rajamouli wins his Best Director and/or Best Film awards, it will be India winning. And it is the biggest victory India has ever won in the Oscar arena.
Rajamouli's marathon with RRR requires us as fellow Indians to cheer him on as he crosses one milestone (award) after another.
RRR may not have catered to everyone amongst us but we have to applaud its global run and concede our willing "bravos" to Rajamouli who is carrying the film to its finishing line with much aplomb. In Rajamouli’s win lies India's win. And every film that opens new doors will ensure more opportunities for our talents to shine on the world stage.
Breaking new ground is always tough when it's done for the first time. But Rajamouli is not new to this process as he has broken his own previous records with one film after another. Rajamouli’s collaboration with his scriptwriter father Vijayendra Prasad has resulted in the best possible filmography for himself and for Telugu cinema. But with RRR, Rajamouli’s coveted line-up of films is changing the way how the rest of the world is seeing the whole of Indian cinema.
Godspeed Rajamouli, the Oscars are waiting for you!
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