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Awaiting Baahubali

I have lived Baahubali mania for the last two weeks at my house #WKKB – Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali, I have listened to at least two dozen theories; and now the day for Baahubali – the conclusion is almost here and we can’t wait for the answer.

The magnum opus is truly history in the making! There are so many things where team Baahubali pushes the boundaries of Indian Cinema that I don’t even know where to begin. Let me try and list out my top 5 reasons

Story

Remember the story of “Kite”…..exactly! There was none. They decided on the hero, roped in a Hispanic beauty, chose wonderful locales and even shot the film before realizing it needed a story. This is the sad tale for many Bollywood movies, but not for Baahubali. In fact the reason it was filmed in two parts is because the story could not be told in 3 hours. . (Yes, most Indian movies run close to 3 hours and that is why there is a concept of “Interval” to stretch out legs and grab those delicious samosas.) The first part kept a gripping hold throughout the movie and then left the viewer on a cliffhanger, wanting for more answers. 

CGI

Remember the sorry state of technical brilliance in Bollywood ….watch this cringe worthy video as a reminder

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Baahibali on the other hand is technically brilliant! The CGI blends the real and virtual so well that one doesn’t know where the set ends and where CGI takes over. This video gives a glimpse into the world of real virtual. The pace at which CGI is developing, I wonder if in the next decade we will have animated movies that look like real ones!

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Marketing

Most movies begin Marketing once the movie is almost complete, but not Baahubali. The team has used social media to continuously build support and fan base for the past 5 years. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, snapchat – you name it – all social media channels used for generating the maximum fan engagement. One of the best use of technology is this 3D video that takes you on a personal tour of the Baahubali sets.

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Brand Building

Never has Indian movie expanded beyond the cinema, but team Baahubali is set to change all of that. Look at the universe of Baahubali – Animated series, graphic novel (comics), upcoming mobile games, a trilogy on the Rise of Sivagami, and not speak of merchandise – Tshirts, art work, mobile covers, credit card covers and the list goes on. This is the first Indian movie that has not only transcended its regional status to gain popularity across many Indian languages but also has reached the corners of the world including places like North Korea. This movie is building a brand franchise like that of Star Wars.

 Baahubali Brand
















Focus

How many projects have we worked on for 5 years? It is a labor of love that lets you bring the vision to reality. To quote Paulo Coelho - No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it.

Baahubali is truly history in making! 


Baahubali the Conclusion


Awaiting Baahubali

Baahubali the beginning

baahubali the beginningThis 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 Bijjaladeva.

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 father).

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……….

Baahubali the beginning

Ek Tha Tiger – Salman Khan at the top of his game!

Ek tha tigerI have been keenly following Salman Khan since his comeback to glory with Dabangg in 2010. Sallu bhai churned out 2 more super hits in 2011 with Ready and Bodyguard. And his likeability is just increasing with each flick. So, I had tremendous expectations from ‘Ek Tha Tiger’. I was looking forward to an out an out commercial entertainer with typical Sallu charm in every frame of the movie, some awesome action sequences, good comedy and a few catchy songs. And Ek Tha Tiger delivered the package perfectly!

Salman Khan is the ‘jaan’ of the movie. He looks amazing! Even better than in Dabangg, Ready or Bodyguard. I really liked his dead-pan comedy although at times his dialogue delivery comes across as too flat and emotionless. Dancing is not really Salman’s forte, but his moves in ‘Mashallah’ and ‘Banjara’ songs are entertaining in a very different sense. They really make you chuckle. As usual, he excels in all the action sequences.

Speaking of action, I quite enjoyed Katrina Kaif’s fight scenes as well. She looks gorgeous, but her Hindi and her acting are still very awkward. Good that she didn’t have to emote much in the film.

The story is nothing novel to write about. In a nutshell, it is the love story of two spies, one from India (Salman as Tiger) and the other from Pakistan (Katrina as Zoya), and how they try to beat both RAW (Indian intelligence) and ISI (Pakistani intelligence) in order to break free and live happily ever after.

While the story and screenplay are not very strong, it’s the fast pace of events and beautiful cinematography that keep you stuck to the chair. Many beautiful locales in Ireland, Istanbul and Cuba add to the visual appeal of the film.

It’s worth mentioning the performances of Ranvir Shorey (as Gopi, Tiger’s colleague) and Girish Karnad (as Shenoy, Tiger’s boss). They do complete justice to their roles.

Music by Sohail Sen and Sajid-Wajid is catchy and hummable. My personal favorite is ‘Mashallah’. The other numbers are ‘Banjara’, ‘Laapata’ and ‘Saiyaara’.

All in all, Ek Tha Tiger is a ‘time-pass’ entertainer! No wonder it’s close to earning Rs. 200 crores!


Ek Tha Tiger – Salman Khan at the top of his game!

Ferrari Ki Sawari Movie Review

It’s been quite a while since I have been able to watch an entire Bollywood movie with my youngsters without flinching or driving them out of the room. Needless to say, I totally enjoyed this flick.

The premise of Ferrari Ki Sawari is quite interesting. It is about the struggle of an honest, middle-class father (Rusy) who desperately wants to get his super talented son (Kayo) into a cricket training camp at Lords in London. Rusy needs Rs. 1.5 lakhs for the purpose. How he arranges for the money, what problems he faces and the strange (read “filmi”) twists and turns that the entire pursuit takes is what the movie is about. The story starts out on a very realistic and easy to relate to note. But soon it slips into fantasy land as Rusy gets involved in stealing (or is it borrowing?) Sachin Tendulkar’s red Ferrari. It so happens that a politician’s son wants to have his wedding “baarat” in a Ferrari, and Rusy is promised Rs. 1.5 lakh to produce that car.

The best part about the movie is the excellent performances. Sharman Joshi as Rusy fits the bill perfectly. His understated display of emotions, whether happy or sad, touches your heart. Ritvik Sahore has done a wonderful job as Kayoze, the young cricket whiz kid. Boman Irani as Behram, the quintessential Parsi grandfather is a complete natural in the role. The three of them are very convincing as a family. Others in supporting roles have done well.

The film’s music isn’t something to make a specific note about, except for Vidya Balan’s item number called ‘Mala Jau De’. She dances well and the choreography is done tastefully.  That’s refreshing considering that many “item” numbers these days lurk in the un-watchable territory. Screenplay is decent, although some comedy scenes feel like they have been extended to fill up the movie.

 So what is the verdict on Ferrari Ki Sawari? A squeaky clean movie with superb performances makes for a nice one time watch!

Ferrari Ki Sawari Movie Review

Kahaani Movie: Vidya Balan’s Performance Shines Through

Like Vidya Balan? Check out our Ishqiya review.

Kahaani is the latest movie of Vidya Balan to hit the silver screen. I was quite impressed by the preview, and the plot managed to intrigue me from the get-go. Yes, I admit that I am a sucker for mystery movies. However, considering that such topics aren’t really the forte of Indian cinema, I went in with some reservations. But I am happy to report that the movie totally surpassed all my expectations!!

Kahaani’s storyline though not quite novel, is very engaging. It is ably supported by a crisp and entertaining screenplay. It keeps you guessing about what is going to happen next. The movie starts with Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman from London arriving at the Kolkata airport. She hires a taxi and asks the driver to take her directly to the Kalighat police station. The perplexed driver asks her why she wants to go to a police station instead of her home or a hotel, and Vidya says “My husband is missing”. The story starts to take a grip on you right from that point.

From there on, the mystery builds as police find no evidence of her missing husband’s arrival or stay in Kolkata. What happens next?  How does she get help from Rana, an assistant sub-inspector, in finding her husband? Why does her search create a flutter inside the ranks of the Intelligence Bureau, especially when she finds out about a wanted person called Milan Damji who resembles her husband? Why does Khan, an IB officer, involved in the case warn Vidya to discontinue her search and forget that anybody called Milan Damji ever existed? What is Milan Damji’s connection with the chemical attacks Kolkata metro? And more importantly, what is Vidya’s connection to it? Does she eventually find her husband? The climax shocks you when it reveals the truth about the entire case. And for that reason alone you got to watch this movie.

Vidya Balan’s performance as Vidya Bagchi is terrific! She manages to look vulnerable, yet at the same time, brave and resolute as she runs around the city with a heavily pregnant body. Parambrata Chattopadhyay as Rana is a great new discovery for Indian cinema. He has portrayed the character so realistically that you can’t help but stand by him throughout the movie. Nawazuddin Siddiqui‘s character of Khan is superb. He does a fine job of playing the brash and rude IB officer who tries to intimidate Vidya out of her search. The rest of the cast has delivered their parts almost perfectly.

I like the fact that the movie is clean and simple. There is no over dramatization. Each and every character is very believable. The story and mystery have such a genuine and decidedly Indian feel. So it doesn’t ever feel like an extrapolated version of some Hollywood mystery flick. The movie has made great use of the Durga Pooja festivities in Kolkata as a backdrop, against which the drama unfolds. Kudos to director Sujoy Ghosh for handling this topic so well!

All in all, I am certain this movie will be remembered for a long time to come. It’s certainly a shining feather in Vidya Balan’s hat!

Kahaani Movie: Vidya Balan’s Performance Shines Through

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