What matters most to S.S. Rajamouli is what happens within the confines of the four walls of a cinema. He makes movies that get people to cheer, laugh, cry, applaud, and even dance in the aisles. The emotions are big and primal, and not a second goes by that Rajamouli isn’t trying to get the audience to have a similarly large reaction. These things can be enormously difficult for an audience to articulate once they exit the theater. The only way to know if he’s getting the reactions he wants is to sit in with as many audiences as he possibly can, as he recently detailed to The New Yorker:
“For me, it is very important to understand how my audience members feel about my films. At the same time, I don’t think many people can really express how they like or dislike the movie. The moment you put them in a position to judge your film, they lose that perception. The best way for me to judge my own films is to go to the theatre, sit with the audience, and feel how they’re responding. I visit theatres showing my films sometimes ten, thirty, forty, or even a hundred times to get a sense of how the audience receives my films.”
In the case of “RRR,” Rajamouli has been able to do this not just in India but also around the world. Even in the United States, which has entirely different sensibilities than are found in India, he is still getting people to cheer, laugh, cry, applaud, and even dance in the aisles. If two different audiences are having the same reactions but are halfway around the world from each other, Rajamouli has obviously tapped into something special. That is a film to be proud of.