Baahubali 2- The Conclusion
Director: S.S. Rajamauli
Cast: Prabhas, Sathyaraj, Rana Dugabatty, Nasser, Ramya, Tamannah, Anushka Shetty
The storm that started 2 years back with Baahubali-The Beginning comes to conclusion with this film. The whole country has waited with bated breath for this extravaganza to be released, if not for anything else, then just to find the answer to the most forwarded question/joke/meme on the social media – “Katappane Baahubali ko kyun maara?” (Why did Katappa kill Baahubali?)
Well, now the answer is here; (no, I am not going to tell you that!) but I will surely tell you the conclusion. It is simple – for Indian cinema, Baahubali is huge- literally and metaphorically!
Let’s begin where it all began. Two years back the first film got released and on screen, a wounded, hounded regal lady walked with a newborn baby in arms, on the backdrop of a giant, rumbling waterfall! From that very first scene, the audience was mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of a cinematic vision never seen before in Indian cinema. Director S. S. Rajamauli (who had earlier impressed with Makkhi) had raised the stakes to the very limits. The scale on which Baahubali was mounted was unprecedented in Indian cinema.
Set in some mythical ancient era, the film told a simple grandmother’s tale of princes and palaces, thrones and contenders, conquests and conspiracies, and battles and rivalries, freely referencing from ancient epics like Mahabharata. It cleverly weaved beautiful song-and-dance sequences and presented a breathtaking array of VFX (Visual Effects) and CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).
The hero (Prabhas), a tall, dark, handsome ‘cool dude’, playing the original Baahubali as well as his lost son, won us over with his magnetic screen persona and an easygoing charm. The rest of the cast played along very well. The story-telling was crisp. The action-emotion-romance-comedy-melodrama formula was perfectly in sync with Indian mindset and the surreal imagery had created a colorful fantasy world to perfection. The Telugu- original film, dubbed in Hindi, featuring non-Bollywood actors, smashed box-office records all across India. Most importantly the director achieved the most perfect ending ever! The audience kept asking the suspenseful question – ‘Why did Katappa, a loyal confidante of Baahubali, kill him in the end?’
Baahubali 2 shows no hurry to answer that question. It begins smoothly as a flashback when the original Baahubali was alive and was having a good time with Katappa! Thus begins yet another joyful ride of disguises, deceptions and duels. The film ups the ante in every department. For 2/3rd of this film, the director does almost nothing wrong. The story-telling is masterfully light-hearted and fleet-footed. Prabhas continues his winning act and Anushka Shetty (who played a withered mother in the first part!) spiritedly essays his heart-throb. As the golden hearted Katappa, actor Sathyaraj makes quite an impression, especially when he gets his comic persona on. The villains- Rana Dugabatti and Nasser are suitably menacing and cunning. With her hamming queen’s portrayal, Ramya grates on nerves though!
Great VFX and CGI continue to dish out some grand visions on screen. The sound and photography are top notch. The songs and dances perfectly meld into the narrative. Comedy, romance and action are aplenty till we finally get our answer to the Katappa conundrum!
From that moment onwards, melodrama dominates and the film loses steam. The stretched climax tries its best to stage the mother of all battles but by that time, all the tricks have been seen and savoured and there is nothing new on offer!
Please don't bring Haary Potter and Lord Of the Rings into comparison. Baahubali is as Indian as it gets, both in its strengths and its weaknesses! All the obvious flaws (Excess of everything being the most obvious!) notwithstanding, Baahubali is still a pioneering triumph for Indian cinema. It is a an epic fantasy told with panache and grandeur. To envision and execute a film of such a big budget, cast and canvas; to use such vivid imagination; to conjure such a big bagful of cinematic tricks; to show such technical excellence, and to connect to and conquer a pan-Indian audience is a huge achievement by any standards! S.S. Rajamauli joins the pantheon of great film-makers with these twin offerings, which have made people suspend disbelief like the good, old days.
Ram Gopal Verma’s tweet terms all those who do not appreciate Baahubali as psychologically challenged. For once, I feel like supporting RGV. Well, I won’t go that far but perhaps such cynical detractors have lost the child in their heart, who would have enjoyed a grand fantasy epic any day!