‘RRR’ Director S.S. Rajamouli on Rihanna and Meeting “God” Steven Spielberg: “He Was So Warm”
The Indian auteur, making the rounds at awards season events, lists the many reasons he has to smile these days as his film continues to receive trophies and praise from critics groups. With a big grin, S.S. Rajamouli confirms the obvious.
"I'm the happiest person in the world right now," the RRR director relayed from inside Saturday's BAFTA Tea Party in Beverly Hills. Rajamouli was standing in a back corner of the ballroom in what was likely a rare moment of peace and quiet during a hectic awards season that has seen his film honored with a slew of nominations and wins from various critics groups and associations with likely more to come. And he was game to list the many reasons why it's so easy to light up these days.
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"It all feels really great," continued the helmer even if he's admittedly eager for more to take in the film that centers on two revolutionaries on their journey away from home before they start fighting for their country in the 1920s. "To be frank, every storyteller is a very, very greedy person. They want their stories to be heard by a lot more people. Even if a hundred thousand people watch your story, we want another hundred thousand."
Plenty have already seen RRR and Rajamouli is grateful to Netflix for helping make that happen by streaming his film and allowing it to reach a wider audience across the globe. "We were happy with the kind of reception we had for the film with the Indian audience, but when we started getting the same kind of reaction from Americans, from Japanese and from so many countries through Netflix, it made me very happy."
Another reason to smile: RRR picked up a Golden Globe at the recent awards with a trophy going to Kala Bhairava, M.M. Keeravani and Rahul Sipligunj for their track "Naatu Naatu," beating out music superstars Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Rihanna happened to be in the Beverly Hilton that night and as she exited the telecast, she made sure to offer congratulations to the RRR table on her way out.
"It was surreal," Rajamouli said of seeing Rihanna pass by with kind words. [See the moment here.] "We were so pleased with getting the award and huddling at the table and then suddenly we see her walking towards us. "I kept thinking, is that Rihanna? Is that really her? Then she said, 'Congratulations, guys.' Before the moment could even sink in, she was gone. It was so nice of her to come by and congratulate us. It made us so happy."
Rajamouli spoke to THR on the eve of the Critics Choice Awards that took place on Sunday evening in Century City. His film received nominations for best picture, best director, best visual effects, best foreign language film and best song. It earned two trophies for the latter two categories.
Last one: Rajamouli was still smiling 24 hours after meeting Steven Spielberg, someone he described as "God" in an Instagram post that featured pictures of the encounter at a cocktail reception on Friday. "I spent five minutes with him and I don't remember what I talked to him about. I was just looking at him," recalled 49-year-old Rajamouli. "I took a picture with him and he was so warm. So warm. His films made such a big impact on me for decades. I tried to stay in the moment."
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