With his next release (Maryada Ramanna)just around the corner I decided to finish out his body of work and watched the last two Rajamouli films I had left, Sye and Vikramarkudu. Each of his films deserve a review/post of their own so I won't review each now. Instead I will briefly write what stands out for me about each film, some of which I watched months ago. I tried to rank them but gave up after getting too many tied for 2nd and 3rd place, so I will just discuss in the order released.
Student #1 (2001) This was Jr. NTR's first hit. I watched it on a DVD without subtitles. Even without subs I was able to follow the plot. This is one of only two Rajamouli films that has made me tear-up. I am a complete sap for Heroes crying about their Moms. The scene when Aditya's Mom is coming to visit him in jail and her husband stops her? That scene killed me, I was a sobbing mess. I'd say Rajamouli did an excellent job of conveying the emotions in that scene, if I could be so moved without being able to follow the dialog. If anyone knows of a version that has subs PLEASE let me know!
Sye (2004) This was my first Nitin film- what a cutie-pie! I would say very different from Rajamouli's previous two. This one is more a campus rivalry than a revenge flick. The shots of the Rugby game are very exciting. The game didn't seem staged like a lot of sports flick can be. And another stand out is Genelia's dancing. I never thought she could dance very well untill I saw this one.
Chatrapathi (2005) This was the first Rajamouli movie I saw. What is most memorable for me in this one is the fights. Prabhas kicked-ass in this. He fought a CGI shark and folded someone in half. It was gloriously over the top. And his brother (played by Shafi) was a very memorable villain. Plus the Mom scenes. This is the other Rajamouli flick that made me cry.
Vikramarkudu (2006) The Hero in this one is Ravi Teja. Ravi plays a double role as a thief and a police officer. I loved the cute little girl and the villains in this. Ajay as a dacoit seemed like a giant. Once again the music and the song picturizations stand out.
Yamadonga (2007) I love this film. It's as close to perfection as a film can get. Perfect cast from Jr. NTR to Mohan Babu, Priyamani and Mamta. Brahmi and the other comics were used very well. The fights were wonderfully choreographed and executed. The Music and dancing spellbinding (with Tarak how could it not be?) The story was sweet, funny and exciting. What's not to love?
Maghadeera (2009) This film has opened the doors to the thrill ride that is Tollywood to alot of non-desi Bollywood fans. I get the sense from blogs and forums that Magadheera has been an eye-opener for alot of Indian movie fans who have never strayed South of Mumbai. Ram Charan Teja does really well with the action and dancing in this his, second film. I loved Chiru's cameo, Sri Hari's supporting role and Kajal was beautiful in both present day and past scenes. Great action and a superbly evil villain. Let me also add that Ram Charan has beautiful hair, I'm totally jealous. (He should keep it long. Seriously.)
So what is behind the Rajamouli magic? Whoever helps him cast his movies should get a raise. The Heroes and Heroines and supporting cast are perfectly chosen. All of these movies have well put together stories. The majority of them written by Vijayendra Prasad, who happens to be Rajamouli's father. I particularly like how the comedy tracks are so well integrated into the story, something that is often not the case in Telugu films. The music is memorable and composed by M.M. Keeravani, I believe he is Rajamouli's cousin. The set design has improved and gotten more impressive with each film.
Maryada Ramanna is releasing next week. It has comic actor Sunil in his second outing as Hero. This film is supposed to be different than Rajamouli's others. According to his tweets about the film it is less "vulgar and violent" than his previous films. If that is the case then choosing Sunil as the Hero makes sense as he usually plays sweet, funny, sidekick type roles. This short trailer highlights how different from the typical Rajamouli Hero Sunil will be.
The only concern I have about the film is whether it will have subtitles on it's overseas prints. I have been pestering Rajamouli on his Twitter and Facebook pages and the producer Shobu Yarlagadda on his Twitter account to include subtitles for us non-Telugu speaking fans. I have gotten "we'll try" responses from both of them. It is time for SI films to have them. Magadheera has opened the doors to SI films for alot of non-desi Bollywood fans I think. It would be a shame not to draw more in with the aid of subtitles. I got my fingers crossed, I'll go first day first show regardless - I hate waiting for DVDs and missing out on the big screen experience.
So the big question is (well besides whether it will have subs or not) will the Rajamouli magic continue and have Maryada Ramanna give him another hit and his fans another wonderful ride? I can't wait to find out!