Asking Rajamouli to design Amaravati a Baahubalian blunder or brainwave? Andhra CM's move invites brickbats

Dreaming of Mahishmati Naidu meets SS Rajamouli over Amaravati designs amidst criticism
news News Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 18:26

Tollywood director SS Rajamouli met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday morning, at the state Secretariat in Amaravati.

Rajamouli paid a visit to the upcoming capital of the state, after an invite from the CM, to finalise designs for some key government buildings including the Assembly and the High Court.

British architectural firm Norman Foster and Partners, submitted final models of the buildings last week.

According to a statement from the chief minister's office, he was happy with the waterfront, the layout and the interior designing of the legislative assembly. He, however, felt the facade can look much better to reflect world-class architecture.

Rajamouli is the director of the two-part Baahubali series, which is based in the ancient kingdom of 'Mahishmathi'.

The sets of the film had impressed many, including Naidu, who felt that Rajamouli's suggestion would add an Indian touch to the designs of Amaravati.

“If I want Persian, European and Asian architecture I did rather go visit them. But at my home and workplace, I want a representation of our history, folklore and mythology,” Naidu had said at a meeting of the Capital Region Development Agency in December last year.

Filmmaker for architectural design?

However, there are several questions that arise from the Chief Minister's decision to consult a filmmaker for architectural design.

Writing for Scroll, Smita Dalvi poses two questions: "Firstly, how relevant it is to seek inspiration for a twenty-first century, modern capital city in mythical imaginations of the past? And secondly, how useful it is to channel cinematic imagination in real world urban design?"

Tara Murali, another architect, wrote in The Hindu: "This unscientific and irrational approach to city planning and architecture displays the extent to which the malaise has spread. Public money is being wasted on political hubris and nonsensical notions of public architecture."

Stating that public projects in India remain dependent on the whims of politicians, A Srivathsan, a professor at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, writes in The Wire:

The real danger in the Amaravati story is that a serious, positive planning process has been turned into a flight of whimsy and that public projects remain captive to state caprice. Every large urban undertaking lays bare the efficiency of the systems, the capacity to self-organise and the nature of leadership that drives them. In the making of the Amaravati, none of it appears reassuring. 

According to reports, Naidu suggested that Rajamouli be flown to London in the coming weeks to give his inputs to the firm.

The Chief Minister will visit the firm in London on October 25 to finalise the designs, during his tour to Britain and the United Arab Emirates.


In January this year, Japanese company Maki and Associates approached the Council of Architecture, a statutory body, complaining that the TDP government had dropped it as the master architect for the construction of the capital, after model designs were submitted.

 According to media reports, Naidu was reportedly unhappy with the model designs, as they were facing criticism from the general public.

The firm also complained that the AP government forced it to work with Hafeez Contactor, a Mumbai-based firm, which is also presently designing Telangana's new Secretariat.

The termination notice stated that the firm was being dropped, due to "adverse public reaction, disproportionate fee and concerns towards executing the project in the given time frame."

The contract was then given to Norman Foster and Partners.

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