Breaking the mould: How SS Rajamouli delivered some of the most memorable villains in Tollywood

While most directors spend all their energy finding the star on whom they pin their blockbusters, Rajamouli has a talent for spotting the ideal baddies
Breaking the mould: How SS Rajamouli delivered some of the most memorable villains in Tollywood
Breaking the mould: How SS Rajamouli delivered some of the most memorable villains in Tollywood
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Watch Baahubali, and you can’t help but admire the bronzed, muscular torso of its eponymous lead, played so delectably by actor Prabhas. But shift your sights just a bit, and you’ll notice that his arch-rival, Bhallaladeva, played by Rana Daggubatti offers nearly as heady and exciting an on-screen prospect.  

Much of the credit for this heady mix goes to SS Rajamouli, who stands out in the industry for the strong and entertaining villains he brings to his blockbuster hits. Breaking the trend of the stereotypically crude villain of the past, Rajamouli has been at the forefront of creating entirely relatable and enjoyable villains.

Without further ado, here are four cool villains from Telugu cinema’s biggest hitmaker:


While Tollywood actor Rana Daggubati has had his share of hits as the hero with the heart of gold, Bhallaladeva in Baahubali is sure to rank among the most memorable performances of his career.

No wonder that, in an interview with FirstPost, Rana said that he would always choose the role of Bhallaladeva over Baahubali given the chance. “I always like Bhallaladeva. Rarely you would get a negative character that can charm the audience.”

Rajamouli himself has been very enthusiastic about promoting his glamorous antagonist as much as his epic hero. On Rana’s birthday, for instance, Rajamouli revealed the first look of King Bhallaladeva from the upcoming film Baahubali—The Conclusion.

Prabhas too has talked about how villains are a big asset in Rajamouli’s films. “In all his films he sees to it that the villains are so strong that there is some tension till the last minute of the film. He always works like that. For him the villain is the most important and that is why he wanted Rana in this film,” Prabhas said in an interview.


Sudeep, better known as Kichcha Sudeep, is one of the reigning kings of Sandalwood, the Kannada film industry. But among his most critically acclaimed roles is that of the baddie in Rajamouli's Eega (Telugu). Released on July 6, 2012, Eega was an audacious experiment that got the cash registers ringing loudly and the critics waxing eloquently about it.

But even with the film’s success, Sudeep’s achievement of winning so many hearts among an audience that hardly knew him took many by surprise.

Rajamouli said that he chose Sudeep after watching the actor in Rann. “I was impressed by Sudeep's performance and attitude in Rann. Not many can act with Big B with such elan. My villain should deliver a stylised performance; he should not show his anxiety by screaming and all. Sudeep's performance is subtle,” he said in an interview.

Clearly, whatever Rajamouli saw in Sudeep, was just what Tollywood audiences were looking for.  Sudeep even received the Best Villain award for the role at the 2013 Nandi Awards awarded by the Andhra Pradesh government.

Ranadev Billa

Dev Singh Gill’s Ranadev Billa was probably the first villain that Rajamouli framed in the new way. As Rajamouli said about the 2009-release Magadheera, the film marked a difference from the crude villains in his earlier movie.

“But in Magadheera, I had to choose a good-looking guy as villain, as heroine would have to find him to be trustworthy. Dev Gill does the role of a villain who looks good, but turns devilish when required. He worked for Krishnarjuna movie in the past and everybody was against casting him. But I was adamant on casting him,” Rajamouli had said.


While most directors spend most of their energies picking the stars on whom they bet their projects entirely, Rajamouli has a great talent for spotting his baddies. So you have V Nagineedu, reportedly a General Manager at Prasad Labs before he became Ramineedu in Rajamouli’s comedy thriller Maryada Ramanna.

Nagineedu also received the Nandi Award for Best Villain for Maryada Ramanna.

According to reports, Rajamouli cast him against the wishes of his coterie that reportedly wanted a known face for the role. And once again the director was proved right, when Ramineedu became one of the most memorable characters in the film.

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