Tollywood or Bust
The Movie Maximalism of S.S. Rajamouli
Jan 1 – Feb 12
In December, the New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their Director of the Year award to S.S. Rajamouli for his work on the blockbuster historical action epic RRR. This capped a remarkable year for the Telugu-speaking Tollywood auteur. RRR has become such a critical success there is a real prospect he will snag an Academy Award nomination. A first ever retrospective of his films at BeyondFest in Los Angeles proved revelatory.
Here is a pop Cinema prodigy who doesn’t play by the rules, a movie magician pulling bouquets of dynamite out of his hat. Give Rajamouli three hours, he’ll give you non-stop action, comedy, spectacle, costume drama, a love story and a musical, all at once. In India, he has three of the top five biggest ever box office hits to his name. If you’re not familiar with popular cinema from the subcontinent, now is the time to discover what the world outside North America already knows: Rajamouli’s supercharged entertainments are bona fide blockbusters.
Tollywood or Bust plays Sunday afternoons through January and February.*
Thanks to JJ Hurtado / Potentate Films
*New screenings of RRR have just been added on Saturday, February 4 and Saturday, February 11!
One of the breakthrough movies of the year, SS Rajamouli's astonishing RRR is the kind of blockbuster action film that reminds us how and why cinema has thrilled audiences all over the world for more than a century.
Rajamouli dived deep into Joseph Campbell territory here, crafting a classic epic adventure saga on a such a scale he needed two films to showcase it. The ambition of this production is breathtaking, a Telugu analogue to Avatar and Lord of the Rings.
Both a sequel and a prequel (though swift recaps mean you don't need to have seen The Beginning), BB2 is structured to exploit S.S. Rajamouli's maximalist tendencies. Indeed, it became the most expensive Indian film, and India's biggest ever box office hit.