These two legendary filmmakers came together to break down how to find a work-life balance.
Last year, Indian filmmaker SS Rajamouli released one of the most astounding feats of cinema that we have ever seen. While many fans of Rajamouli were filled with excitement when the most expensive Indian film was released, many US viewers did not realize the infectious power of RRR until it landed on Netflix.
Since then, RRR has taken on a life of its own. It’s hard to summarize what this film is because it embodies everything great and powerful about the action genre, similar to the reactions of many US fans to Top Gun: Maverick. The story follows two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for British-occupied India in the 1920s. While those revolutionaries were real people, they never met in real life. RRR is Rajamouli’s fictionalized telling of what could have happened if these two met.
The film has received endless critical praise, even earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. It also turns out that one of our favorite directors, Steven Spielberg, is an RRR fan.
In a conversation with Rajamouli, Spielberg praised the Indian blockbuster as “eye candy,” stating, “I thought it was extraordinary to look at and to experience, so congratulations for RRR.”
Check out that full conversation between the two directors below, then let's talk after about what our takeaway is.
How to Find a Work-Life Balance as a Filmmaker
Overwhelmed by the praise from the famed filmmaker, Rajamouli praised Spielberg’s career before asking the filmmaker about his motivations behind making The Fabelmans and portraying a version of his own family on screen.
“As I was watching the film, initially [it] felt like ‘Oh my God,’ he’s picturizing his mom as not so good. I was empathizing with the father,” Rajamouli said. “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.”
“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 neighborhood friends, which eventually is going to lead him to a career,” Spielberg said. “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.
When portraying complex characters that resemble people in real life, it is hard to not look at them through a biased lens. When we remove those rose-tinted glasses, we see that those people in our lives are not good or evil – they exist in the same world as us, and we chose to accept them as they are.
“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 added.
For Spielberg, having Tony Kushner as the screenwriter helped shape the story he wanted to tell about his family through a fictional lens. If you want to know how Kushner did just that, then check out our interview with Kushner where he breaks down his process on The Fabelmans and collaborating with Spielberg.
While Spielberg passed on specific filmmaking opportunities, like working on the first Harry Potter film, to spend time with his family, Rajamouli’s approach is vastly different.
“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,” Rajamouli said.
Although working with your family on a film may not sound like the ideal situation for every filmmaker out there, I do advise that you take time in your life to find that balance between work and family. That balance is different for everyone and could be as simple as making a phone call once a week to check in with those you love.
You can watch the rest of the conversation here, but we are excited to see Spielberg and Rajamouli come together next month at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Let us know your thoughts on the conversation in the comments below!