Baahubali: The Beginning is amongst one of the biggest films ever made in the history of Indian cinema. And the fruition of this magnum opus would not have been possible without one man – Shobu Yarlagadda, Producer and Art Director of this epic drama. We caught up with him at the recently concluded India Design Forum 2016 where he spoke about “Using traditional craft & technology in modern-day filmmaking”. Here’s what he had to share about the making of the world of Baahubali.

Shobu Yarlagadda, Producer and Art Director, Baahubali

Shobu Yarlagadda, Producer and Art Director, Baahubali

Baahubali was based in a fictitious world and not limited to a specific era. What was the kind of research involved in the making of this film?

We created our own world and so we designed a manual based on this. The manual had everything in it  – what was life like at that time, what were they growing, what apparels they wore and so on. It was a fictionalized document of how the world would have really existed.  We set the movie in an era before gunpowder and guns existed. And so we took references from earlier eras.


What was the brief given to all the designers who were a part of the film?

The design brief was to ‘keep it large’. Everything had to be over the top and big in scale. Also everything had to be universal and should be able to connect to a larger audience. These were the two main briefs given to them.

The film had various kinds of artists on board. How was the experience of bringing indigenous and different flavors to cinema?

It was interesting because some of the people were good in character designing, while some were good with spaces, some in architecture and so on. We brought all of them together and ultimately they had to understand what our director wanted and work accordingly. So it was an interesting experience.

You also mentioned that you’ll had a much lesser budget as compared to Hollywood. Did that make things more challenging?

Yes, it does make things challenging in terms of getting the quality that you want, especially the visual quality because we work with much smaller budgets. It is especially difficult on a large-scale project like this one.

Shobu Yarlagadda with Actor Prabhas

Shobu Yarlagadda with Actor Prabhas

Were there any other challenges faced while making Baahubali?

From getting the scale and the visual effects right to the quality of visual affects, quality of sound and more, everything was a challenge because everything we were doing it all for the first time. Most of the things that we did have not been done by anybody before. So everybody was going through a  learning process and trying to understand it.


What are the risks involved in producing such a large scale film?

The financial risk is of course there; the film has to work financially. Also, the artists and technicians, the director, everyone has given a huge chunk of their time to this project and if it doesn’t work, that many years of their career is taken away. So there are both kinds of risks.

When Baahubali released, there was a buzz that the producers are the bigger stars for actually having faith in this project. Your thoughts on it?

Yes, we had faith in the director and the team and we knew that we’re doing something that will definitely be appreciated.

According to you, what should a producer keep in mind while signing up for such a project?

The biggest thing is that you shouldn’t get cold feet midway. The budgets and a lot of stuff will go up, but you need to believe in the project and go all the way. You cannot pull out in between.


Shobu Yarlagadda with SS Rajamouli

Shobu Yarlagadda with SS Rajamouli

What benefits did Baahubali draw with the association with Dharma Productions?

We are well-known, in terms of our director and talent, in Andhra Pradesh and other parts of South India.  But in the North, we were a non-entity and needed the audience to connect to something. We knew that the audience would connect to the visuals but then we wanted a brand ambassador of sorts, who would represent our product. And we felt that Karan (Johar) was the right person for it.

And how would you describe your
association with director S.S. Rajamouli?

Rajamouli and I go back a long way; we almost started our careers together. Both of us were working in Television. We have earlier done a film called Maryada Ramanna, which was remade into Son of Sardaar. This is our second major project together. We are good friends first who also work together.


hat are your upcoming ventures?

Baahubali is going to be our major venture. We are working with Graphic India for an animation and comic around Baahubali and it is something we’re looking forward to.

– Kiran Dave


Photo ofShobu Yarlagadda
Shobu Yarlagadda
Job Title
Producer & Art Director