If you’re a fan of modern Indian cinema, you’ve heard of S. S. Rajamouli. The Telugu director is arguably the most famous filmmaker in India, with three of his films being in the top five highest grossing films in the country. He is a master of spectacle, delivering massive epics packed with action, romance, comedy, and musical numbers. S. S. Rajamouli movies have become so undeniable that they have transcended cultural and linguistic barriers — the director is a leading figure in the pan-Indian cinema movement, creating films for the entire subcontinent. All this makes ranking S. S. Rajamouli movies a tricky task. Let’s give it a shot.

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SS Rajamouli Movies

12. Simhadri (2003)

Best fight scene from Simhadri

Simhadri is Rajamouli’s second film, and shows him further honing his craft after his debut. The movie has bursts of the stylized wonder that would later become a calling card for the director (like the interval scene), and it stars NTR Jr., one of Rajamouli’s most important collaborators.

As such, it’s a crucial piece of Rajamouli’s filmography, and catapulted NTR Jr. into stardom. But the film suffers from its lackluster plot and largely uninteresting villain. Plus, the women in the film often feel underwritten, and as a result their imperilment feels cheap.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Simhadri boasts a charismatic and energetic performance from NTR Jr., but little else.

SS Rajamouli Movies

11. Student No. 1 (2001)

Rajamouli’s debut

It all started here. After working furiously in television for years, Rajamouli finally was given the opportunity to helm his own feature. Student No. 1 has all the makings of a debut. It crackles with a youthful energy, while also at points showing its creator’s lack of experience. Even Rajamouli himself has said that he was learning as he went along during the shoot.

Like Simhadri, Student No. 1 stars NTR Jr. in what is also his feature lead debut. Here, however, it’s clear that the actor, who was only sixteen at the time, isn’t as adept at carrying the dramatic scenes as he would later become.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Student No. 1 is a promising debut, but lacks the spellbinding imagination that Rajamouli would eventually be known for.

SS Rajamouli Movies

10. Sye (2004)

Rajamouli’s sports film

Rajamouli took a left turn with his third film. Sye is a tried-and-true sports film, and a well-executed one at that. The film is also Rajamouli’s first without NTR Jr. and while Nithiin is not quite as charismatic as NTR (few are), he’s perfectly serviceable as the flawed protagonist.

The film’s villain, meanwhile, is one of Rajamouli’s strongest, and it’s truly a delight to watch Nithiin and his team go up against him. Rajamouli’s direction is the most powerful when the players are on the rugby field; each hit is violent and visceral. The climactic match is Rajamouli firing on all cylinders.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Sye may be a bit slow to start, and lacks a strong soundtrack, but the final third will surely win you over.

SS Rajamouli Movies

9. Yamadonga (2007)

NTR Jr. and the gang dances

Yamadonga is another collaboration between Rajamouli and NTR Jr.. The film is one of Rajamouli’s earliest forays into the fantasy genre. It follows a serial liar whose conning of a woman is interrupted when he dies and goes to hell. 

Yamadonga is arguably Rajamouli’s most uneven work. The film soars when NTR Jr.’s character is in the underworld and interacts with Yama, who is played by a locked-in Mohan Babu. But when the movie returns to the real world, the story and the direction sag, carried only by the strong cast.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Yamadonga is certainly entertaining, but suffers from poor pacing and a slightly predictable storyline. Still, it’s worth a watch for its performances and fantastic hell sequences.

SS Rajamouli Movies

8. Vikramarkudu (2006)

Comedy on full display in Vikramarkudu

Vikramarkudu has all the calling cards of a S. S. Rajamouli film. The action is thrilling, the comedy is fun, and the protagonist has a clear duality. In Vikramarkudu, the duality is literalized, as Ravi Teja plays two characters who look identical, a cop and a thief.

Teja delivers a riveting performance with an enormously wide range, playing goofy for the thief and deadly serious for the cop.

What holds Vikramarkudu back from being a true Rajamouli classic is its inability to fully differentiate itself from the countless masala stories that came before it. That, and the music, crucial to Rajamouli’s films, is largely mediocre.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Vikramarkudu shows Rajamouli in complete control of a masala action thriller, but the film isn’t able to bring much new to the genre.

SS Rajamouli Movies List In Order

7. Maryada Ramanna (2010)

Sunil shows off his comic chops

Maryada Ramanna is unlike any other movie in Rajamouli’s filmography. The director has made a name for himself by telling huge stories with even bigger spectacles, but Maryada Ramanna is all about constraint.

The story follows a man returning to his homeland to reclaim property which belonged to his family. But in doing so he unknowingly reignites a feud between another family in the village and his own.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the exact storyline of Buster Keaton’s classic Our Hospitality. Like Keaton’s film, much of Maryada Ramanna is contained to a single house, which the protagonist can’t leave lest he be killed. It’s this restraint that forces Rajamouli’s massive, stylized ideas into a small space, and it’s a delight to watch.

S. S. Rajamouli Movies

Conclusion

Maryada Ramanna is an inventive take on Buster Keaton’s masterpiece with a fantastic performance by the comedian Sunil. 

SS Rajamouli Movies

6. Baahubali: The Beginning (2015)

The climactic battle of Baahubali 1

The film that changed just about everything. S. S. Rajamouli’s kaleidoscopic epic boasts some of his most unforgettable set pieces, iconic characters, and dazzling dance numbers. From the very beginning, the film moves like a force of nature, telling the universal story of a hero’s rise to herodom.

Baahubali: The Beginning is Rajamouli throwing everything he has into a fantastical journey borrowing from ancient myths and legends. And audiences ate it up: Baahubali became one of the highest grossing films of all time in India, and ushered in the pan-India cinematic movement.

Rajamouli shot the film simultaneously in two languages so that it could be shown throughout the country. So why is it only number six?

The film’s middle suffers from the strength of its beginning and ending — in comparison, it drags a bit, and feels slightly meandering.

SS Rajamouli Movies List

Conclusion

Baahubali is one of the most important films to come out of India in the 2010s. And, hey, it’s pretty fun, too.

SS Rajamouli Movies

5. Chatrapathi (2005)

The grittiness of Chatrapathi

In comparison to Baahubali, Chatrapathi feels quaint, which is saying a lot for just how much action and drama is packed into the film. Chatrapathi is one of Rajamouli’s grittier films, more grounded in reality (to a certain extent – it’s Rajamouli we’re talking about) and containing more commentary on India’s current epoch.

The film follows a Sri Lankan refugee making his way in a Vizag slum and suffering the day-to-day injustices of being a second-class citizen. The protagonist is played by a pitch-perfect Prabhas, who gives one of the most nuanced performances in Rajamouli’s filmography.

The first half of the film also boasts some of the best writing of any of Rajamouli’s films, comprising devastating monologues, riveting drama, and cutting social commentary.

The second half unfortunately isn’t able to keep up with the beauty of the first, but in total, Chatrapathi packs a punch.

SS Rajamouli Movies List

Conclusion

Chatrapathi is filled with powerful performances and some stellar action scenes. Even with a slightly lackluster second half, it’s one of Rajamouli’s strongest works.

SS Rajamouli Movies

4. Magadheera (2009)

An epic battle scene from Magadheera

Magadheera was S. S. Rajamouli’s official step into the big leagues. The scope of Magadheera was his most expansive yet — a reincarnation love story spanning hundreds of years — and Rajamouli was in full command of every twist in turn. The film contains some of the director’s most iconic fight scenes, and depicts probably the strongest romance of any of his films.

The chemistry between the two stars, Ram Charan and Kajal Agarwal, is palpable, and both actors are captivating to watch from beginning to end. It’s no wonder why this is considered a career-defining role for Charan in particular.

The film really takes off when Rajamouli employs his signature flashback, and we are shown the protagonist’s past life in vivid detail. No set piece holds back in Magadheera, each action scene and song is more enthralling than the next.  

SS Rajamouli Movies List

Conclusion

Magadheera is one of S. S. Rajamouli’s most beloved works. After watching, you won’t have to wonder why.

SS Rajamouli Movies

3. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)

The battles keep getting bigger  •  Best Rajamouli movies

Baahubali 2 delivers on the promise of its predecessor and then some: it improves on The Beginning in nearly every capacity. The spectacles are (somehow) bigger. The stakes are (somehow) higher. The songs are even more riveting. Prabhas is far more comfortable as the titular character, and is able to infuse more comedy into his performance, a welcome addition.

Baahubali 2 is undeniable, and swept the nation of India by storm, topping the astronomical box office revenue of its first installment. All those people who bought tickets were surely not disappointed; it’s a stellar sequel which delivers a climax you have to see to believe.

SS Rajamouli Movies List

Conclusion

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is a cinematic event, offering just about everything you could want from a movie. Its nearly three-hour runtime flies by.

SS Rajamouli Movies

2. Eega (2012)

The Eega trailer  •  Rajamouli filmography

What would it have been like to be in the room when Rajamouli pitched Eega? What would have been the look on executives’ faces when the acclaimed director told them he wanted his protagonist to be a fly?

Eega may well be a less perfect film than Baahubali 2, but it is certainly more audacious. After Magadheera and its subsequent success, Tollywood was inundated with similar films with similar stories and characters. With Eega, Rajamouli threw his own rulebook out the window, eschewing massive-scale spectacle for the smallest of the small: a simple fly.

Eega follows a man who is killed by his rival as they battle for the same love interest. The man is then reincarnated as a fly, and is hellbent on revenge. It’s an outlandish plot that somehow keeps you on board the whole way through, even as you watch a fly build muscle in one of the best training montages.

SS Rajamouli Movies List

Conclusion

Eega is just as crazy as its synopsis, and it works. It’s a must-watch.

SS Rajamouli Movies

1. RRR (2022)

The dance scene from RRR  •  Rajamouli films

S. S. Rajamouli was one of the first directors to successfully pull off the pan-Indian film. With RRR, he created a movie so magnetic it transcended India and became a global sensation.

Rajamouli’s greatest film is a buddy comedy, historical epic, romance, musical, action thriller, and anticolonial critique all wrapped into one. And every single aspect works. The film delivers iconic scene after iconic scene, including NTR Jr. fighting a tiger and Ram Charan clobbering a mob of literally hundreds of people — all to M. M. Keeravani’s greatest score.

The heart and soul of the film, and what makes it the best of Rajamouli’s catalog, is its two leads, NTR Jr. and Ram Charan. The two are at the peak of their powers in their own scenes, and together have a chemistry matched by few other cinematic duos. Just watch their dance off and try to deny it.

Rajamouli Films

Conclusion

RRR is India’s most popular working director’s greatest film. It’s no wonder why it’s become an international sensation. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen, but you may have to stand and cheer along.

UP NEXT

Nicolas Winding Refn, Ranked

Now that you’ve watched all of S. S. Rajamouli’s movies (you were watching along as you read, right?), it’s time to check out another director with an instantly recognizable style: Nicolas Winding Refn. Check out our ranking of his entire filmography.

Up Next: Best Refn Movies →
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  • Rex Provost is an award-winning writer/director based in New York. When he’s not making movies he’s writing about them.

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