Indian action hit ‘RRR’ eyes Oscars, sets Beyond Fest S.S. Rajamouli retrospective
Following the global success of India’s hit action blockbuster “RRR,” celebrated filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli is heading to Los Angeles this month for a major in-person career retrospective that could also kickstart the film’s Oscar hopes.
The monthlong “From Tollywood to Hollywood: The Spectacle & Majesty of S.S. Rajamouli” program is part of the 10th edition of L.A.’s Beyond Fest, the highest attended genre festival in the U.S., where the 48-year-old writer-director will make his first-ever appearance at an American festival with several of his best known films.
It is also the first stateside retrospective for Rajamouli, who’s made 12 feature films since 2001 and is considered one of his country’s preeminent powerhouse filmmakers. The filmmaker is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival.
An innovative grass-roots effort will bring India’s blockbuster action hit ‘RRR’ back to theaters for one night on June 1.
Fans of Telugu-language cinema, dubbed Tollywood, know Rajamouli as a master of spectacle whose films “Baahubali: The Beginning” (2015), “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” (2017), and “RRR” are among the highest-budgeted and highest-grossing Indian films to date.
But the breakout success of “RRR,” a 1920s-set historical epic starring Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. as folk heroes who team up against the British Raj, brought the film and Rajamouli even greater crossover acclaim after its initial $140 -million worldwide box office run. Despite a three-hour-plus runtime, it scored big in May with its “EncoRRRe” theatrical re-release and Netflix streaming debut, fueled by buzzy word of mouth and social media fervor.
Audiences of the film, presented by Beyond Fest, the American Cinematheque, Imax, Variance Films, Potentate Films and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, will have the chance to watch Charan’s Raju and Rama Rao’s Bheem fight tigers, juggle motorcycles and “Naatu Naatu” their way across the screen in Imax on Sept. 30 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, with the director in attendance.
The series continues Oct. 1 at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica with a nine-hour marathon of his action epics “Baahubali” and “Baahubali 2” as well as “Eega” (2012), about a man reincarnated as a fly, where Rajamouli will participate in a career-spanning Q&A. His 2009 fantasy actioner “Magadheera,” also starring Charan, and 2010 feuding family drama “Maryada Ramanna” will screen in October at Beyond Fest, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 11.
And while Netflix’s Hindi language version of “RRR” became its most popular Indian film, per the streamer, Beyond Fest’s Rajamouli screenings will be presented in their original Telugu with English subtitles and include intermissions.
“Since inception, Beyond Fest has fought tirelessly to give film fans the best theatrical experiences in the world, From Tollywood to Hollywood delivers on that promise,” said Beyond Fest co-founder Christian Parkes in a statement. “To celebrate the world’s greatest filmmaker and present the biggest film in the world, ‘RRR,’ in Imax at the most famous theater in the world is the dream culmination of a decade’s work.”
If you’ve been to the movies recently, you might have glimpsed it — an unfamiliar name alongside the latest from Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel, Disney’s Belle and her Beast.
While in L.A. Rajamouli will also serve as guest programmer, introducing a 35-millimeter screening of Charlie Chaplin‘s 1931 black-and-white film “City Lights” as part of the American Cinematheque’s Sunday Print Edition series at the Los Feliz 3.
Chaplin’s silent classic is a longtime favorite of Rajamouli’s, the filmmaker revealed in an episode of Joe Dante‘s “Trailers From Hell” podcast “The Movies That Made Me.” Born into a filmmaking family, he grew up devouring comics and movies, catching a rare screening of “City Lights” in his youth between showings of Indian films at a local cinema.
As “RRR”s distributors eye a potential Oscar bid, Rajamouli supporters hope his L.A. visit also further introduces the filmmaker and his body of work to U.S. awards voters. India has not yet named its official Academy Awards submission, but the country has not had a nominated film in 20 years, and many “RRR” champions believe the film and its director have garnered enough international box office, buzz and acclaim to take a swing in several categories.
Tickets for the “From Tollywood to Hollywood” events will go on sale Thursday via the American Cinematheque. The full Beyond Fest 2022 lineup will be announced next week.
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