As SS Rajamouli celebrates his 46th birthday, spoke with several Telugu directors and asked them to share what they admire most about Rajamouli.

Hit filmmaker SS Rajamouli turns a year old today. In a career spanning 18 years, Rajamouli has done 11 movies, including two of India’s biggest motion pictures: Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion. So far, he has no box office flop to his credit. He is also one of the few directors in India, who overshadows the superstars in his films.

As he continues to see big dreams and make even bigger films, spoke with several Telugu directors and asked them to share what they admire the most about Rajamouli.

Director Hanu Raghavapudi (LIE, Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha)

Everything about Rajamouli sir is fascinating. He begins his imaginations at a point where everyone’s imagination ends. Everyone has boundaries but he’s limitless. I always wondered whether I will be able to make a film like him. Inspired by Sachin, many become cricketers. But there can’t be another Sachin. And he is like Sachin (of cinema). Nobody can even touch his shadow. He is the best.

Director Sreenu Vaitla (Dookudu, Aagadu)

The one thing I like the most about Rajamouli is the way he has designed his career. He is fantastic in his planning. He very soon understood his strengths and capitalised on them film after film. And he ensured that his works never got monotonous by setting his films in different backgrounds. Other than him, I know no other directors who have so beautifully built their careers. He is an inspiration for every director.

Director Vivek Athreya (Brochevarevarura, Mental Madhilo)

I admire Rajamouli sir’s conviction. Over the course of making a movie, everybody goes through some kind of a lean phase. Our conviction takes a hit before the script is fully translated to the screen due to various reasons. We get to hear a lot of people’s comments and our conviction takes a dip. Take, for example, Baahubali. He wanted to make that film and he did it. He proved that if one has conviction, he can do anything. Everybody should learn from him about the kind of conviction it takes to make a movie of one’s desire. I can’t make films like him. Even today when I watch Chatrapathi, I get goosebumps. The same happens when I see the interval sequence of Baahubali: The Beginning. Our expectations from Rajamouli grows with every film. And with every film, he manages to exceed our expectations.

Director Venky Atluri (Tholi Prema, Mr Majnu)

I admire Rajamouli sir’s vision. And at times that vision takes us to places. Sometimes, we have to be capable enough to dream that big and he has that ability. After delivering blockbusters like Magadheera and Baahubali, he must have been flooded with offers to direct films in Bollywood. But he stuck by the Telugu film industry as he aspires to raise the industry’s stature globally. As far as I know, until, Magadheera he never even shot on a foreign location. He is so passionate about shooting within our country. If today the Telugu film industry is earning Rs 10 extra or the Hindi film industry is paying attention to us, it is all because of him. I admire his courage and depth of his dream. I love all his interval scenes. In fact, I became his big fan after watching the interval scene of Simhadri (2003). It is my favourite scene to date.

Director Prashanth Varma (Awe, Kalki)

After Raghavendra Rao garu, Rjamouli is the god of commercial cinema for the current generation. I have been studying his cinema for quite some time and I really love the way he does emotions. The way he shows his hero, builds emotions and how he makes the audience wants the hero to hit the villain. I think even KGF is Rajamouli-esque film. My favourite part of a Rajamouli film is the pre-climax scene, where he makes the audience feel what his protagonist goes through. I think in most of his films, pre-climax and the climax are the highlight. And also Rajamouli’s villains are well-written. As much as importance he gives to his heroes, he gives equal importance to his villains. All the Dashavatara references I tried in Kalki was mainly inspired by Rajamouli garu’s mythological references to his heroes.

MM Srilekha, music composer and Rajamouli’s cousin

More than a director, I love him as a brother. He is a very affectionate and caring brother. He also used to help me with my movies. He is like Arjuna, who can see only the eye of the sparrow. When he is on the sets, he only sees the visuals that he wants to shoot and nothing in the surrounding would distract him from his vision. He works 24/7.

Venu Udugula (Needi Naadi Oke Katha, Virata Parvam)

I admire the way Rajamouli sir handles emotions in his films. He focuses only on the core emotion and he systematically elevates to another level. The main emotion in his film feels like a drop in the beginning but by the end of the narration, it feels like an ocean. This is what about him inspires me the most. His films have both artistic and commercial values. Rajamouli sir’s humility even after scaling great heights is also very inspiring. Even when we make a small film, we face a tremendous about of stress. I can only wonder the amount of stress he may be under while making such big-budget films and yet he delivers high-quality films.

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