This weekend I watched what is touted as India’s biggest, most
expensive, epic movie Baahubali and the movie lives up to its hype and then
some more! A complete package of technical brilliance, gripping storytelling
and outstanding performances by all actors. This is the first part of a two
part movie, and the movie strikes the right balance of entertaining at the same
time leaving you with enough intrigue for the second part.
Spoiler alert – story ahead
An age old story of denied rights to an undeserving weak
character leading to the great war of their descendants. BijjalaDeva (Nasser)
is denied the throne to the kingdom of Mahishmati due to his weak character
which he attributes to his deformed hand. His brother dies an untimely death
and his wife dies in child birth after delivering the prince Amarendra
Baahubali (Prabhas as the father). Sivagami (Ramya Krishna) the fair, just and
ruthlessly courageous wife of BijjalaDeva(Nasser) also has a son
BhallalDeva(Rana Daggubati). Sivagami
assumes the duties of the throne without ascending it, after a bloodbath of
revolting ministers with the help of Kattappa(Sathyaraj) an honor bound slave
to the throne. The two cousins, sons of Bijjala Deva and his brother, are
provided equal opportunity to prepare them for the throne but as expected,
Bhallaldeva houses a grudge against Baahubali fanned further by his father
This story is told as a flashback to Shivudu (Prabhas as the
son) who is raised by the tribal chief. The movie begins with Sivagami carrying
an infant, an arrow stuck in her back and fighting the soldiers chasing her. She
jumps in the torrential waters and manages to hand over the baby to the tribals
before being consumed by the waters. The baby is Shivudu (Prabhas), who meets
and falls in love with a rebel warrior Avantika(Tamannah) tasked with rescuing
the princess Devasena(Anushka Shetty) tied up in chains as a prisoner in the
town square of Mahishmati. Shivudu manages the daring rescue but has to fight
Kattappa and Bhadrudu(Adavi Sesh) who is Bhallaldeva’s son. Shivudu beheads
Bhadrudu and now must face the wrath of Kattappa; but instead Kattappa bows
down in loyalty on recognizing Shivudu as Mahendra Baahubali, the son of
Amarendra Baahubali and Devasena. As Kattappa tells the back story of Shivudu’s
ancestors, he leaves us on a cliffhanger for part 2 without telling the details
of how he –Kattappa - back stabbed and killed Amarendra Baahubali(Prabhas the
End spoiler alert
The story resembles many Indian mythological stories – the main
storyline directly follows Mahabharat’s enmity between Duryodhana and Pandavas.
Bhallaladeva’s preferred weapon is similar to the mace the favorite weapon of Duryodhana.
The story of Shivudu looks like the story of birth of Krishna, complete with
the mother being imprisoned and the rescue in the flowing waters. The powerful,
just and warrior queen mother Shivagami who rules without ascending the throne feels
like historic Laxmibai transported to Mahishmati. The character of Devasena,
who could have easily escaped but instead endures all the tortures to seek
revenge may on the surface remind of Rakhi’s character of Karan Arjun but seems
more inspired from Draupadi of Mahabharat who keeps the embers of revenge
alive. Kattappa’s character has the tragic melancholy of Bhishma’s vow as it
binds him to serve the throne even in their acts of injustice.
The story may not be new but in the hands of the master
story teller Rajamouli, it transcends you into the world of Mahishmati for 2
hours 40 minutes keeping you completely entertained and leaving you wanting for
more. The visual effects are stunning and never seen before in Indian Cinema. They
deftly enhance the beautiful locations with computer imagery that the viewer
cannot tell where reality ends and CGI begins.
The story and cinematography is supported well by all
actors, both the seasoned ones like Ramya Krishna, Sathyaraj and Nasser as well
as the younger generation with Prabhas, Rana, Anushka and Tamannah. Ramya
Krishna outshines them all with her fierce, dignified portrayal of Sivagami,
Sathyaraj as Kattappa brings out the anguish of the character as he is morally ashamed
of the actions he has to carry through due to the vow that binds him to the
throne. Nasser and Rana are the epitome of villainy with the right
undercurrents of wickedness without being over the top. Prabhas is forceful and
his sheer energy of performance overshadows his bulging biceps. Tamannah is
beautiful and reminds of Hemamalini in Dreamgirl and is suitably fierce as the
rebel warrior. Anushka’s brief appearance in the first half as Devasena is
impressive, watch out as her story unfolds in part 2.
Costumes always play a huge part in bringing the characters
to life and the love and attention to details of costume design shows. The
beautiful silks bring the royalty to life, the use of nauvari style of draping
saree for Sivagami brings in shades of powerful historic women like Jeejamata
and Laxmibai. Tamannah looks like an apsara in the white costume and Devasena’s
saree and make up makes her look like a mad woman consumed with revenge. The royal
silk colors used for men are equally good, fashion designers take note of the
colors for men’s ethnic Indian costumes!
It is never one big thing that makes a movie great but it is
attention to all the small details that really elevates it. Be it the makeup,
costumes, cinematography, or creating the new language spoken by Kalakeya’s
tribe. Kudos to the whole team for making sure every small detail was given the
attention it needed.
There are plenty of firsts this movie attempts – this may be
the first time an Indian movie is made in two parts, it is the first time an
Indian movie is shot with an all-digital Alexa XT camera, the Marketing team
has done extremely well building up the excitement for the movie using digital
and social channels for the last 2years.
The dream of
Baahubali has become a reality through hard work, and calculated risk.
Congratulations team Baahubali for this milestone movie!
The wait for part 2 begins……….