India's S.S. Rajamouli is living the kind of week that filmmakers rarely allow themselves to fantasize about.
Last Monday, his crossover sensation RRR turned Los Angeles's colossal TCL Chinese IMAX into a dance party, with hundreds of audience members rushing the screen. On Tuesday, Rajamouli's epic musical drama won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, triumphing over such nobodies as Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Later in the week, directors like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron fawned over the filmmaker casually known as "SSR," praising him in public.
"I don't have words to explain the kind of exhilaration that we are having," Rajamouli, 49, tells EW's Awardist podcast (you can listen to the entire episode below). "It's why I make films — to extract that kind of joy, to give that kind of joy to an audience."
Everett Collection N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and furry friend in 'RRR'
In a wide-ranging conversation, the director touched on his own favorite films, how he cuts an action sequence, and his preference for screenwriting over other phases of production. Rajamouli also spoke to the question on Hollywood's mind: Will he come to America to make a movie?
"I think it is the dream of every filmmaker across the world to make a film in Hollywood," he says. "I am no different. I'm open to experimentation."
But, he also admits, the decision is causing him a "bit of confusion." At home, Rajamouli enjoys final cut and an unusual amount of creative power: "Back in India, I am the dictator. No one tells me how to make a film." Modestly, he speculates that a Hollywood project might be an opportunity for a co-credit. "Very probably, my first step will be collaborating with someone," he says.
Parisa Taghizadeh/Searchlight Pictures Olivia Colman in 'Empire of Light'
Also on this week podcast, EW's Clark Collis spoke with star Olivia Colman and director Sam Mendes on their latest collaboration, Empire of Light, an early-'80s-set British drama based largely on Mendes's boyhood memories of moviegoing. After making such films as Skyfall, Spectre and 1917, Mendes seems to be shifting to a more personal register, a pivot that feels special. "Every member of the cast and crew would have followed Sam off a cliff if he asked us to," Colman says.
You can hear our full interview below, along with our thoughts on the televised Golden Globes, provocative host Jerrod Carmichael, and the state of the Oscar race as this year's nominations window closes.