In this retrospective series on SS Rajamouli’s career, we try to understand what makes him tick as a storyteller. We are hoping that this exercise will reveal certain recurring patterns, themes, tropes and cinematic elements which Rajamouli has perfected over the last 20 years to reach where he is today.
SS Rajamouli began to let his imagination explode with the genre-bending drama Magadheera (2009). Between Sye and Magadheera, Rajamouli limited himself to the conventional boundaries of Telugu commercial films. Chatrapathi, Vikramarkudu and Yamadonga had the usual dose of over-the-top heroism. But, they remained within the realm of familiarity. With Magadheera, Rajamouli began to scale up the images in his films.
Magadheera gave the first signals of Rajamouli’s ambition and visual capabilities. And like all early works, this was replete with rookie mistakes. Yet, the audience in the south received the film very well, which in turn boosted the confidence of the young filmmaker to dream bigger.
The movie opens with the death of Kala Bhairava (Ram Charan) and Mithravinda Devi (Kajal Aggarwal). Set some 400 years before the film’s present day, the scene gives us a glimpse of what’s about to come: a rebirth of the hero with exceptional abilities. Enter, Harsha (Ram Charan). We know nothing about him yet and we won’t even later in the movie. Except for his supernatural bike-riding skills, we know nothing about the hero. Who are his parents? What’s his social circle? Where does he live?