Happy birthday SS Rajamouli: Remembering hitmaker's glorious debut film
Currently, filmmaker SS Rajamouli is busy campaigning for RRR's Oscar win. His latest offering has cemented him as the flagbearer of grand historical mythological fiction—following Magadheera, Baahubali films. But this transition wasn't immediate. In fact, Rajamouli took his sweet time exploring "real-life" action dramas first. On his 49th birthday, let's revisit this journey by circling back to where the magic began—his debut Telugu venture.
Rajamouli roped in Jr. NTR for 'Student No. 1'
Time and again, Rajamouli has spoken about his liking for actor Jr. NTR. After all, it was the Eega director who cast a 16-year-old Jr. NTR as a massy hero in his first Telugu film, Student No. 1. While their bond is still intact today, back in 2001, Rajamouli trusted a teenager to lead a layered emotionally charged tale. And, Jr. NTR had delivered.
What was 'Student No. 1' all about?
Focusing on a mysterious but good-natured college boy Aditya (Jr. NTR), Student No. 1 seemed like a normal college action drama that had a hero, a rugged senior bully for the villain, and a female lead in the first half. It was only in the interval that we discovered the twist—Aditya lives in jail where he's completing his life sentence for committing a murder.
Even without superficial moments, the film was engaging, inspiring
As time passed, Rajamouli explained the intricacies of Aditya's burdened life like peeling layers of an onion. We came across Aditya's tense relations with his father, the unintentional incident that changed his life, and his ambitions of earning a degree in law. Sans the Herculean display of strength and fairytale visuals, Student No. 1 had viewers going with the sheer power of the story.
It offered look at Rajamouli's growth like no other
This isn't to say the movie was flawless. Hardly so. But considering it was Rajamouli's first Telugu venture and a mass entertainer in the 2000s, Student No. 1 was a breakthrough project. Co-starring Gajala and Rajeev Kanakala, it later got remade in Tamil and Oriya. And, it has been wonderful to see Rajamouli gradually dropping the sleaze and honing his raw storytelling capabilities.