Mr. S Shankar and Mr. SS Rajamouli
Indian cinema has gone through the ages and has undergone quite a lot of retrospect to offer for everyone. While South India has come up with a lot of promising flicks, it is still far from perfect, especially now with movies flocking theatre halls every weekend.
Secretly behind the scenes, there are highly driven and talented directors, scared yet influential distributors and producers who can weave around them for profit.
Amidst all this, however, a few have come up battling against odds and establishing their own markets, and brands that have significantly impacted the way people around them and everywhere looked at cinema (even film schedules after a certain point of time). Today we look at two such directors, Mr. S Shankar and Mr. SS Rajamouli. I believe most of us have heard of them, but a few introductions are in order, nonetheless.
Both these men are recognized well in at least South India, if not in it’s fullest. It’s obvious they have been very successful. Both of them have come up with the blockbuster hits (biggest numbers in South Indian Cinema, to be precise) at some point of time – Endhiran: The Robot for Shankar and Maghadheera for SS Rajamouli. They both indulge in making commercialized movies (one maybe more than the other), and they both seem to be sharing a similar love for using special effects in their movies. But are they really perfect and when we put them head to head, which one is going to come on top?
Let’s take a closer look at our man Shankar. He may be the highest paid director in India today, but his journey has been long. Unlike directors who appear and disappear, Shankar didn’t take long to make his mark. His first film, Gentleman shot him to fame and earned him two Best Director awards. His career followed up with more success stories in Kaadhalan, Indian, Sivaji: The BOSS, Anniyan and Endhiran: The Robot.
Even his latest of the pack, Nanban is a blockbuster. However, there are two small dents in the form “Naayak” and “Boys” which didn’t turn out so well for Shankar. A closer look at his movies explains why.
All of Shankar‘s movies focus on a national issue, something that needs a lot of attention. In each of his attempts, he tries to get close to an answer that never approaches India. The fact that his movies have so much commercialism is weird, especially the way the lead character can switch between being a casual heroine wooer into someone who can’t tolerate injustice scene after scene. Even more, the audiences seem to love the way he goes about it. Highly expensive sets, never before seen (in Tamil cinema) special effects and action sequences that keep us wondering if they are even possible, are trademark Shankar attributes. This appears to be his success formula and he doesn’t really want (or intend on) giving up.
On the other side, we have SS Rajamouli who came out of a family of means, many of whom had been a part of cinema. However, it took him 8 long years before he could find the right pair of shoes. His debut came in 2001 with Junior NTR‘s Student No. 1 and it became a roaring hit. While Shankar enjoyed an even quicker rise to fame, SS Rajamouli had big releases follow up one after the other within a short period of time. Sye, Chatrapathi, Vikramakudu and Yamadonga all continued his success story and by then, this man had gotten a lot of attention. Then came the mother of all Telugu films, Maghadheera, in 2009 which sealed his success in Tollywood.
While the former focused on nationalistic tops, SS Rajamouli was more into straightforward commercialism. He made no attempts to hide it and in each of his movies, and it always turned out and impressed audiences. Visuals and sets of course greatly praised, especially in Yamadonga and Maghadheera and flicks went on to become blockbusters even when they lacked the catchiness of a Shankar movie (which also saw huge success when dubbed into Telugu). This calls to doubt whether his attempts would have become as successful if they were made for a different type of audience. The answer came in the form of Eega (Naan Ee in Tamil)which was released both in Tollywood and Kollywood and got good reviews.
In a direct comparison, Shankar and SS Rajamouli appear to share a lot of similar aspects. They enjoy making exquisite songs that involve spending a lot of money and they do not mind having a fair amount of action in their movies. But even when they have almost the same number of movies (11 for Shankar and 9 for SS Rajamouli), it does appear quite clearly that Shankar is the leading horse here. He does appear to play the ropes quite well and knows exactly how to use his heroes impressing audiences across classes.
SS Rajamouli while playing catch up has seen enough success (without any dents in fact). When he starts making more multi-lingual films, it will be more fun to see sums up. Looks like these guys are gonna continue to make commercial films after all.
So what do you think? Can these guys learn something from each other? Who, according to you, is better?