"This almost wants to make me get up and do a dance."
SS Rajamouli and Steven Spielberg came together for a conversation, discussing films and filmmaking.
The pair came together to mark the release of Spielberg’s The Fabelmans in India on February 10, 2023.
The film is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and initial years as a filmmaker, told through the fictional Sammy Fabelman.
Speaking about RRR, Spielberg thought it was “outstanding”, saying:
“It was amazing, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
He added that the film brought a “beautiful, visual style”.
This pleased Rajamouli and he replied: “Thank you so much.
“This almost wants to make me get up and do a dance. It means a lot to me.”
Spielberg also praised the performances of RRR leads Ram Charan, NTR Jr, Alia Bhatt and antagonist Alison Doody, who had acted in his film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Spielberg went on to tell Rajamouli that in the future, he would like to ask him how he made the film.
The filmmakers moved on to The Fabelmans, with SS Rajamouli saying:
“It was so different from your other movies but at the end of it, the joy we usually get from your movies is always there, in a completely different way but it was so joyous.”
Rajamouli asked the American filmmaker what was his thought process when making The Fabelmans, to which Spielberg replied:
“The decision to tell my own story was because I’ve been so safe telling the story of others.
“I’ve always been the captain of a ship I didn’t build. All of a sudden I’m now the captain of my own ship.”
Speaking about the film, SS Rajamouli told Steven Spielberg:
“As I was watching the film, initially [it] felt like ‘Oh my God’, he’s picturising his own mom as not so good. I was empathising with the father.
“But as we progress, we understand the difficulty of the situation – no one is bad.
“It is not about a person being good or bad. It’s about following your heart and following your duty.”
Spielberg replied: “There are no villains in the story. It’s a story about love. It’s a story about a young boy, much like myself, named Sammy Fabelman, who falls in love with movie cameras and making movies with his neighbourhood friends, which eventually is going to lead him to a career.
“And it’s about following your heart and not sacrificing yourself and your own happiness and your own future, to make others around you safe and comfortable.
“My mom took life into her own hands. And she had a huge, beautiful personality. But she was always very honest about what she needed, and what she wanted from this life.
“And she took it for herself. But she still brought all of us along with her.
“So we never felt abandoned by the choices that she was making.”
Spielberg stressed the importance of the family unit and revealed that he turned down the first Harry Potter film in order to spend time with them.
Rajamouli said: “Luckily for me, I keep my whole family in the film business, my wife, my son, my brother, my brother’s wife – everyone is with me making movies, so I don’t miss my family.”
Spielberg did not rule out a sequel to The Fabelmans but admitted there were no immediate plans for it.
Both directors also discussed how aspiring filmmakers can learn and grow within the film industry, with Spielberg reminiscing about his experience making Jaws.
Rajamouli hoped that Spielberg would find a project that takes him back to India to film.
The RRR director offered his home city to Hyderabad as a location.
Holding Rajamouli to his offer, Spielberg said the last time he shot in India was in 1976 for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Steven Spielberg and SS Rajamouli briefly met at a cocktail party in Los Angeles in January 2023.
They will meet again in March for the Oscars.
The Fabelmans is nominated for seven awards while RRR is nominated for ‘Best Original Song’.